Every year for our September event my mother buys two sundresses. One for her and one for more older, shapelier, prettier sister. She used to buy three but by the age of twelve I was already a lost cause in the “little lady” department.
Eight years later, an adult, and I’d thought I’d make my own attempt. She’d bought the two dresses, my sister had let me know, coral and red. So I picked one on my own, a soft yellow. I’d fight right in, our own little flame.
The evening rolled on and they went to their rooms, the dresses laid out, and I went to my own. Mine silently, unknowingly hanging, limply in a dark closet. They emerged in their dresses, tan, dark hair, chocolate eyes. I emerged. All pale, knobby knees, flat breasts. A bloodied band aid and a scrap on one knee. A bruise and a scar on the other. And the dress. Just the same as it had been in the closet, hanging limply, lifelessly.
My mother sighed, in that way she usually does while dealing with a dirty, gap toothed child. “You look like a child playing dress up after a day in the dirt. You look like an eight year old boy.” And I thought for the first time that perhaps I should’ve been. Maybe life would’ve been easier.