1. Feel: Felt
Felt is fibers that have been rubbed and cooked and stretched until they are deformed, and by their deformity they have become intertwined. By being intertwined, they have become thicker but less flexible. Felt does not stretch. Wool, nylon, cashmere, rayon: it doesn’t matter. Felt is thick, heavy, dull. It gets wet and stays wet. It grows mold.
Children cut felt with safety scissors into the shape of hearts and glue on sequins and little pompons. They give each other these felt Valentines if they feel like it. Some teachers make every child give every other child a felt heart, but children have ways of making it known whether the gift is heartfelt: the snicker, eye roll, rude noise once the fat girl has turned away.
2. See: Saw
A saw cuts wood, but thanks to the numbing and insensible action of modern anesthetics, people don’t remember that surgeons cut bones with saws as well. They cut bones with saws, skin with scalpels, and the layers of connective tissue that form a network within the body, they sever with scissors. Some of these look like children’s safety scissors. Some of them do not.
Surgeons cut into bodies with their owners’ full knowledge and consent, cutting, suctioning, ripping, and extracting things which people hope will make them better, change their lives. Do you like the response when they see new hairstyle or a new dress? Just wait until you see eyes light up at your new nose, lifted belly, and pumped-up ass! People form a judgment of you in less than three-quarters of a second of seeing you for the first time.
Fun fact: The scissors surgeons use can also be used to cut out hearts.
3. Smell: Smelt
There will be a day when your panties turn yellow and you don’t know why. Your crotch will burn, especially when the boy who never looks at you is near. Your long bicycle rides alone will be a solace and an escape from the percolating pressure in your pelvis. The pumping of your thighs as you pedal makes them throb like iron. The moisture has an odor. You are afraid he can smell it. You want him to. You know he knows; you know he doesn’t know. Later, you will realize that boys mature later than girls, and he had no idea; he never caught a whiff and if he did, he probably thought it was the smelts at the fish market next door, where the crabs clambered up each other’s backs and pulled each other down, so none could escape.
4. Hear: Herd
Cows produce methane when they fart and we are given to believe it will lead to the end of the world. The rude noise made when the fat girl turns away often sounds like a fart, and everyone reacts when they hear it with silence or nervous laughter. They are part of the cow herd. The truth is that there is no danger from cow farts, there never was; what causes the world to end is the sound.
The sound, and the silence. The silence is the silence of the ones who were thoughtful, but stand, corrected, following unspoken orders. They will not make eye contact in the future, now that hear has become herd. Their faces become bovine.
5. Taste: Tasted
In the sense that it does not change when it becomes the past, this sense makes no sense. This sense is the sense which only lets us know when we transform its object within our bodies. This sense is the most private sense. This sense does not need to change to toast, test, tossed, when it has passed, because it is never really past.
The fat girl’s brain lights up like a Christmas tree, all dopamine, when the taste of chocolate cupcakes or fruit punch soda hits her mouth. At that moment, one or two of the herd will meet her eyes as though she was human. They see her joy, and raise her ante with disgust.
The flavor works its way into the fibrous network of her body, grape-like globules under the skin of her belly, butt, thighs, arms, cheeks, and chin. The taste is always with her, but she is the only one who is unaware of it; for her, it dies like a bell that’s rung, like a flash of lightning.
It’s the only way of knowing left to her.