Eustace carries Rooney’s liver in a jar tied to her belt with a rope made of discarded dental floss. She lets her hang onto it, sometimes, but when she asks, earnestly, Mom, could you maybe put this back inside me? I think I might still need it. Eustace just shakes her head in a resounding no. Rooney pouts, but Eustace pays her no mind because when was the last time that paying her mind did anyone any good, anyway? Sometimes she fingers the floss-rope and wonders when was the last time she could really get in there and floss for real, to fight back against the decay? Had to at least have been back before Rooney, anyhow.
Rooney turns twelve next month and she’s hoping that Eustace will bake her a funfetti cake with strawberry frosting and rainbow jimmies. More likely than not, she’ll fall asleep on their dilapidated couch with a lit joint dangling from her lips. She knows there isn’t any cake batter left around town anymore. All that disappeared a long time ago, but she thinks that maybe if Eustace tried looking in one of Grandma’s old binders she could figure out how to do it on her own. When Rooney asks about it, Eustace looks at her like one of the three headed medusas in her Spartemis comics. Says, I turned forty-three last month and ain’t nobody made me no cake.
Rooney’s dad left when Rooney was still in Eustace’s stomach. Good riddance, she always says, whenever she brings him up. Rooney rubs the scar in her side and wonders if her dad has the same one. If Eustace kept his liver in a jar tied to her belt too. Thinks that he must have taken it back when he had gathered up the courage to finally up and leave her. She doesn’t even blame him for running away, she just wishes he’d have waited until he could take her with him. Eustace, noticing that Rooney’s in another one of her blissful thought-reveries, swats her daughter on the head with an old, yellowing newspaper. Says, What do you think you’re doing, brat, disappearing off into the stars like that? Time to make your mama somethin’ to eat.