The girl sat in a chair in the kitchen of a small house in an unincorporated corner of Anaheim, a bed sheet tied around her neck. Polyps stretched and reached from the pores on her face, the skin there twitching and pulling taut. Their slender tendrils writhing, flicking, and teasing at thin slits of light slipping in from where the curtains were drawn and pinned shut. And a boy, not much younger than the girl, stood across from her, a pair of his mother’s scissors trembling in his chubby fist.

“I think this is going to hurt,” the boy said.

The girl nodded. “Yeah. Do it.”