slow dance to sad songs. buy our first training bras. lose their cool. let us try on their Saturday-night clothes, fill our arms with bracelets, spray Jungle Gardenia behind our ears. complain about our fathers. insist we develop hard hearts. You’ll thank me later. sometimes forget we’re in the same room. tell us we can’t reach the stars, but we can have the clouds below. pick up extra shifts to pay the light bill. ask us to rub their sore feet. warn us not to get into cars with strangers. Don’t fall for that missing dog trick. Second oldest trick in the book. What’s the first trick? When he tells you he’s not going anywhere. cut the green part off the food-bank bologna. watch Law & Order marathons late into the night, the dun dun lulling us to sleep. teach us how to do our own laundry, how to smile at the landlord as we hand over the short check. never cut us any slack. make it all feel like too much. tell us they’re sorry they’re so cynical. We look it up: distrustful; suspicious. miss our fathers. cry out it’s too late for them, but we’d better learn now how to throw the first punch, how to let everyone know we’re not to be messed with. are bursting at the seams. are fraying at the edges. are coming apart.
L Mari Harris’s stories have been chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 and Best Microfiction. She lives in the Ozarks. Follow her @LMariHarris and read more of her work at lmariharris.wordpress.com.