Creative: Origin Stories


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

were married. 


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


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