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[personal profile] lb_lee
The Making of Fifi
Word Count: 1000
Summary: Fifi finds herself just in the nick of time.
Notes: This is for nevacaruso, who prompted and sponsored this fic from Selfathon.  It takes place in the Big YA Multi Problem Novel that we joked about a couple years back.  Here are sketches of Eddie and Fifi from later down the line!


Everyone in Ofelia’s head imprinted on something at the moment of their birth… usually a musical.  (The parents allowed few secular movies, but the one thing stronger than their religious fervor was their love of musicals.) For Annie, it was the Broadway musical of the same name.  For Eddie, it was the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.

For Fifi, it was Sandy at the end of Grease.

She remembered it clear as day.  The event that created her had just ended, and as she lay on the floor, she saw Sandy sashay across the screen, all big hair and tight pants.  She looked strong.  She looked confident.  As she sang and danced with John Travolta, Fifi wanted to be her.

So she was.

Fifi was not much good at schoolwork.  Ofelia and Eddie tended to take care of that, though Eddie often got into fights.  Choir, however, was Fifi’s class.  No ifs, ands or buts.

She couldn’t sing like Sandy yet—or even Ofelia, who had a beautiful never-used voice—but she was sure she’d get there eventually.  The family wouldn’t get her a guitar, but she was allowed to take lessons on the church organ.  That, at least, was an accepted activity.

Even though gospel was not what she wanted to learn, Fifi loved that old organ, and the old organist.  He was small and stooped and never raised his voice or lost his temper.  He taught her to love gospel as rock’s grandmother.  He was a soft, sad man, an island of gentleness in the harshness of the church and the communal mind, and Fifi loved him.

One day, the organist was gone.  A stroke, people said, in his sleep.  A quiet, peaceful death for a quiet peaceful man.

Fifi sobbed and sobbed that night.  Ofelia tried to comfort her as best she could, but was better at being sad than healing sad, and Eddie just lurked, awkward and silent around things she couldn’t bludgeon.

When Fifi finally calmed down, Annie said, “He’ll be in your heart.  He’ll live there.”

Eddie snorted, but Fifi thought it was a smart thing to say.  Zachariah Bottleton was gone, but she could still be him.  Soft, gentle, and patient.

It helped.

Johnny was the sharpest boy Fifi ever met.  His eyes were scalpels, his voice a cutting edge, slicing through all prevarication and defenses.  Within months, he had learned that Ofelia didn’t have moods, but others, given Fifi and Annie their names, and taught them to talk to each other, really talk to each other.  He seemed to know everything.

Eddie hated him.

“Creep,” she grumbled as Fifi practiced the piano. “Asshole.”

Fifi shrugged. “He just wants to do me.  Everyone does.”

“Do you want to do him?”

Fifi shrugged.  People did her sometimes.  It was just what happened.

“Do you like him?”

“I think he’s smart.”

“I think Adolph Hitler was smart.  That doesn’t mean I like him or want to do him.”

The thought had never occurred to Fifi.  She’d always figured that appreciating was liking, and liking meant doing or their feelings got hurt.

Until recently, she’d mostly seen Eddie the way everyone else did, sullen and difficult and not very good at dealing with people.  But now… well, she wasn’t sure if she liked Eddie, but she certainly appreciated her.

“I guess I don’t,” Fifi said wonderingly. “I don’t want to do him.”

Good,” Eddie said, and she sounded not just satisfied, but relieved. “And now that you and me both know that, we won’t let him claim you do.”

Fifi smiled and began playing ‘Feeling Good,’ because she did, and because it was Eddie’s favorite.  It was good to be sure of something.

After their talk in the practice room, Fifi found that not only did she not want to do Johnny, she didn’t particularly like him either.  His constant stare, his habit of putting a hand on her knee, irritated her.  And while she knew that Eddie would bite his head off if asked, she didn’t want Johnny to hate Eddie more than he already did.

So Fifi said, “Please don’t do that.”

Johnny blinked at her. “Fifi, this is okay touch.  It’s okay to like it.”

Fifi resisted the urge to be Mr. Bottleton, smile and nod and agree it was okay.  She resisted the urge to be Sandy, becoming what her boy wanted.  She tried not to be anyone and thought hard so she was absolutely sure when she said, “I don’t like it.”

She could feel Eddie over her shoulder.  Not jumping in, not yet, but present if Fifi needed her.

“Fifi,” Johnny said, “don’t treat me like the enemy.  I’m your friend.”

Fifi was getting confused, so she took Johnny’s hand off her leg herself, since he wasn’t doing it.

“Fifi,” Johnny said, and his voice held a note of warning now, “did Eddie tell you to do this?”

Fifi tried to cling to herself. “I don’t like it,” she repeated.

“We’ve been over this.  The people who hurt you are gone now—”

Eddie made as though to move, but Fifi held up her hand. “No,” she said.

Johnny jerked back as though he’d been burned. “Eddie, is that you?  It’s passive aggressive to let others fight your battles for you, Fifi.”

But Fifi felt safe with Eddie behind her. “Go away,” she said. “Leave me alone.”

“Don’t listen to Eddie!  She hates me!  She’s trying to sabotage us!”

“Shut up, Johnny!” Fifi shouted.

Johnny did, shocked.  Eddie beamed like the sun.

Fifi resisted the urge to apologize, to take it back.  It’d felt good to snap.  She got up and walked away.  That felt good too, even if she was a little shaky, and Johnny started talking, but she left him behind.

Somehow, she made it back home, where she flopped on the chaise with a whoosh and stayed there, while Annie and Ofelia babbled and fluttered around her, trying to make sense of this new development.  Eddie just stood there, smiling wonderingly at her.

“You,” she said, “are great.”

Fifi felt great.

Date: 2015-04-12 03:13 pm (UTC)
ljlee: (fight)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
I see what you meant when you said you despised Johnny too much to write part of a book from his perspective. He's quite a piece of work, isn't he, using supportive-sounding pseudo-psychological babble to isolate and gaslight his victim. This type of asshole seems to be cropping up a lot lately; [personal profile] attackfish and I were just talking about a similar phenomenon, a person who insists they'd never devalue the experience of an abuse survivor--and then goes right on to tell the survivor that she can't possibly know what she's talking about when it comes to abuse because she's been abused.

It was heartbreaking that Fifi saw sex as something that just happened to her regardless of her will, and moving to see her stand up to Johnny and send him packing. My only issue is that this seems too... compressed? I'd have liked to see Eddie and Fifi's relationship developing, and Fifi learning to assert her boundaries. I think these events took place over some time, at the culmination of a series of interactions and choices, but in this short format I didn't get a sense of that. Still, I liked the arc of Fifi's character.

Great use of the title, too, that Fifi's "making" is more than her traumatic birth and that ultimately she made herself with her choices and courage. You might never write this book, but I enjoyed seeing Eddie and Fifi in action even in this truncated form. I even found Johnny enjoyable, in a love-to-hate kind of way.

Date: 2015-04-13 04:08 pm (UTC)
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
Yeah, in this story I REALLY had trouble with the wordcount limit. I've been having that trouble a good amount lately

That sounds like a good sign! When you start to come up against limitations that's often an indicator that you've grown past the medium or format and it's time to move on. That happened for me when I started to find fanfic constricting because the existing canon didn't fit for the story I wanted to tell. I still find fanfic loads of fun, but I realized I need other creative outlets too.

Jeff, for instance, was very fond of using halfassed psych rhetoric as a way to justify his own behavior. He liked to frame his raping as a kind of therapy.

Ewww... for him or for you, or both? From his letter that you posted I'm guessing him, but I wouldn't put it past him to put it as a way to cure your supposed sexual dysfunction. So either he used you as a therapeutic tool, or sought to cure the "disease" of a child's not desiring him with sex. Either way there are not enough icks in the world.
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