When I was eight, my family lived on a cul-de-sac and I still
played with Barbies. Especially in the winter when playdates with
friends required my mother to dress me in a snowsuit and to scrape
ice off the windshield until her knuckles turned white.
It’s just easier if we stay home today and you play with your Barbies.
I sat on the laminate wood floor of my bedroom and laid Barbie
and Raquelle’s naked plastic bodies next to each other in a bed
made from a cereal bowl and a mismatched sock.
Barbie and Raquelle were enemies on Life in the Dreamhouse but
Raquelle was the same size and body type as Barbie so she could
borrow all her clothes. I thought it just made more sense if they
I left Barbie and Raquelle spooning in the cereal bowl next to my
own bed as I fell asleep. In the morning, they were clothed and sat
on opposite sides of my dresser.
The first time I played truth or dare was underneath a plastic card
table in my best friend’s basement for her twelfth birthday party.
She dared the boy sitting next to me to kiss me on the cheek and he
did. I wanted someone to ask me, Truth. Did you like it? So I could
say, No! But no one asked me that and then I was dared to kiss him
on the cheek back and I did.
On my bedroom floor, at fifteen, she tells me about all the girls she
has kissed. I look down in blushed embarrassment. She reclines
back onto the burgundy carpet, stretches out legs, rests twiddling
fingers upon her stomach. What? Would you be looking at me like
that if I was talking about boys? I laugh. Shake my head no. Ask
her where she wants to bike today.
I wish she knew that when she hugs me goodbye, I search
the scents of her perfume—lavender? Sandalwood? I beg
my mother to take me to Macy’s. I hang over every display
bottle until my head is helium. My mother browses the
nearby shoe section.
It’s Alien by Thierry Mugler—jasminium sambac
with hints of woodland cashmere. I drench my
pillow. In the morning, my mother tells me it’s
trashy to sleep in my perfume.
The first time she touched me was fingertips brushed casually
across mountain-ridged shoulder blades. She reached around to
help me open the wine.
Coiled, lustrous steel gently broke the surface of the cork — just
like it was supposed to. Each sharp turn of her wrist was a little
quicker, drove a little deeper until the narrow tip nearly reached the
opening. Juiced labor waited just beneath the porous surface.
As she slowly pulled the cork from its position pillowed between
the lips, she told me I looked like I had never seen someone open
a bottle of wine before.
I hadn’t, not like that.
All I had known was dorm room keys, two lighters held close to a
glass neck, wine bottle punt slammed against his toweled thigh.
Header image by Phoebe Nerem
Read in Spanish