Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Louisa. When she opened her mouth to talk, nobody listened. People said ‘Be quiet now,’ but she kept on talking. Then they said ‘Mind your manners! Don’t interrupt.’ So she spoke even more. ‘Enough of your lip, young lady!’ said the grown-ups. ‘Bloody godammit, let me talk!’ cried Louisa. At that, they said, ‘Watch your mouth, young lady. Or you’ll get it washed out with soap.’ Her parents warned others, ‘Be careful what you say around Louisa. Little pitchers have big ears.’
Louisa felt very conspicuous, with her set of big ears and zippered mouth. But she kept it that way, because she didn’t like the taste of soap. Behind her teeth gathered a deluge of words, jostling to escape. One day, when she was six and the grown-ups were out, Louisa invited the boy next door over. She liked him for his adorable, sticky-out ears. She climbed into a closet with him. Closing the door, they sat down on the lumpy shoes and Louisa kissed him on his lips.
They kissed for a hundred years in that closet and Louisa felt a pretty little mouth grow between her legs. ‘Won’t you talk to me?’ said the mouth. It had the sweetest pink lips and was nibbling a tiny strawberry. ‘They tell me I’m a terrible chatterbox,’ continued her mouth below. ‘Really? You too?!’ said Louisa, with her mouth up top. ‘Let’s be friends, then. We can play word games.’
So they did. And they giggled, sang songs and whispered secrets. ‘Let’s be friends forever,’ said Louisa. ‘You betcha!’ answered her strawberry mouth. Oh, Louisa loved her lippy girlfriend.
Sometimes they stick out their tongues at one another. Or they shout rude words and roar with laughter. When they feel sad, their lips crinkle and they cry together. Louisa’s mouth up top cries tears like seawater, while her mouth down below cries juicy, crimson ones. Now and then, they invite the nextdoor boy back to play. More often than not, they keep their games to themselves. Sometimes they talk, all at once in a crazy jumble. At other times, they sit in quiet camaraderie. When they can hear each other think perfectly, then they don’t say anything at all. Not a word.