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Hello Body. 11.


Adam Coleman Photography

I’m 12.

My father wakes me at 7am in a panic.

Saturday morning.

What happened?

Are you okay???

He can barely produce the sounds that make these words.


And me,

I’m wiping sleep and left over dreams from my face.

My cat goes sprinting down the hall.

I leap from the sleeping bag and pile of stuffed animals on my trundle bed,

adjust my curiously provocative set of Winnie the Pooh pajamas.

I tell him I don’t understand.

He continues to ask the same questions.

Disjointed sentences that fall like anchors

from a frightened mouth.

Something about his car.

Something about shaving cream.

What happened to me.

Did someone hurt me.

Am I okay?


The evening before, the boy up the street had rang the door bell.

He’d stood in the doorframe,

hands shaking,

and managed to slip some words from between his lips.

I was wondering,

He said

Would you wanna,

He said.

Would you wanna go out with me?

He said.

I like you.

He said.


I told him there was someone else.

Someone I’d been spending the lunch period with.

Holding hands, eating ramen noodles from the cafeteria line.

I’d been claimed.

The someone else’s friends,

They’d gotten the scoop.

An afternoon during P.E.

They’d lifted my tiny frame.

Thrown me into a wide open

glistening

silver trash can.

Some girls yelled some profanities in Spanish.

Fended them off.

Another boy hollered,

Nice zit,

As I ran past him on the track.

Skank,

Another whispered as he passed me in the hall.


I’d let the someone else kiss me.

Or hadn’t moved out of the way

when his lips came toward me

between classes.

Mouth full of slimy braces.

I braced.


I told the boy at my door I couldn’t.

I was nothing if not loyal.

I was taken.

Sorry.


The boy sauntered back up the street.

His fists clenched and swinging around his hips

in fits and starts.


That night. A band of boys.

They gather outside my bedroom

window.

Facing the street.

They paint the words,

I f*cked your daughter

across the windshield

of my father’s car

in shaving cream.


Toilet paper wars had been at play for months.

Saturday mornings met with a pile of TP on the bedroom floor.

Thrown there by an exasperated parent.

And a troop of sleepy-eyed girls

instructed to clean the mess.


This time eggs had cracked

against the stucco of our home.

This time a message.

Spelled out and drying in the sun.

I f*cked your daughter.

A lie

Or a warning

that will loom

in the space between my fingers.

Between my sheets.

Between my legs.

Over my shoulder as I walk the street

at night.

As I pull on my docs with the steel toe

on school mornings

against dress code

like the straps on my dress

for years

to come.


The boy.

The boy up the street

has not yet grown a single hair on his chin.

He lives with a single parent.

His mother.

I just keep wondering who he got the shave cream from.

How I’d managed to sleep through the laughter

outside my window.


This is where I’ll learn to say no

at the risk

of public humiliation,

the loss of a “friend”,

for the rest

of my life.

Damned if I do.

Damned if I don’t.

Damn.



Hello Body.


Are you still my own?

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