Rosa Lyster: Animal, Vegetable

The complete essay can be found here.

When I was in high school, the cutting edge of Armchair Diagnostic research was focused on people believed to be Pathological Liars. One day, no one knew that there was supposed to even be such a thing as a Pathological Liar. We thought of it as just “lying”, the thing that people did when they were bored or strange. The next day, a quarter of our associates were found to be displaying the clinical characteristics of the hardened case.  The idea that someone was lying not because they wanted to but because they needed to is, for some reason, extremely easy for a teenage girl to understand. That’s how we explained it to one another: “It means that you like have to lie. It means that somewhere deep inside, you just need to lie.” Our eyes widened. Wow. No one knew exactly what the word “pathological” meant, but this did not prove to be a barrier. I would say more that it acted like a whip on an already motivated racehorse.

Saying it made it true. There was this girl we knew who told us she had to wear prescription glasses when clearly her eyes were 100% perfect and probably she could see in the dark. Her name for this essay is Julia Guy. She had briefly gone out with this nerd we knew, and then broke up with him at a party. The story was that she tore his heart into tiny strips. We admired the savagery with which she sent the nerd on his way, and thought about making her our friend. But there was doubt from the beginning. There was something unreliable, we thought, about Julia Guy. We narrowed our eyes slightly when she came up in discussion. We tilted our heads to the side. Julia Guy was mostly unsettling to be around. She had a rabbity sort of kinetic energy. She moved like a character in a Japanese horror film, able to travel from one side of the room to another without seeming to use her legs. Julia Guy was always zooting up close to us.

We had our doubts about her for a variety of other non-reasons, but there was nothing we could really pin on her. The main issue was this: we could not decide if she was our enemy or not. If she was our enemy, why was she so nice? If she was not our enemy, why did she persist in having crushes on the boys that we had crushes on? Why, also, did she act on those crushes with such devastating efficiency?