They’ll turn her gay. Those girls she hangs out with,
wearing suits to dances and cutting their hair short.
The room is dim, blinds closed as always,
something about a glare on the TV screen.
Papa is telling me about the girls who are
infecting my cousin in between bites of
fruit and cheese, neatly sliced on his plate.
She dresses like such a boy. I hate the way she
dresses. I hate the slit she cuts in her eyebrow. I
wouldn’t let her out of the house like that if she
was my daughter.
The TV blares on behind me, playing
reruns of old westerns. The cowboy
hero lifts the damsel onto his horse.
He rides off while she is still adjusting her
layered dress draped sidesaddle. Her hat
blows off in the wind. It lands in the dust.
I take a bite of the plum Papa cut for me
and let the skin snap between my teeth.
We all thought she was so hot.
My date sits across from me at the round
cafe table, describing how he and the boys
drooled over the girl in his class. I cup
my hands around my hot chocolate mug
and stare at the mural on the wall
over his shoulder. The painted girl
is kneeling on the grass holding a daisy
between her thumb and forefinger
admiring it without tearing from the earth.
She kicked her legs on the chair in front of her
and- you wouldn’t believe it – her legs were as
hairy as mine! As soon as we saw that, we were
all like ew, nevermind.
He laughed, shaking his head, his hair
bouncing slightly under the layer of gel.
He got up to refill my water cup. The painted
girl’s painted hair is the same color as the wheat
field behind her, the same color as the sun.
She has a hint on a smile tilting on her lips.
I crossed my legs under the table and wondered
if the boy’s story was from before or after we started dating.
Hey sweetheart, you need help with that?
My coworker is leaning on the shelves in the back
of the store, where we keep the 500-gram fireworks.
He ignores the new truckload of boxes
but offers his calloused hand to me
as I carry a ladder to the front of the store.
The box next to his elbow is the firework “American
Beauty”. On the packaging is a woman in leather
laying on a black motorcycle, her skimpy
clothes barely more than undergarments,
her bedroom eyes staring blankly. I decline
his help and walk past him and the motorcycle girl.
Well, there’s no need to get huffy. I was just offerin’.
The stock boy two years younger than me passes by
straining under the weight of “Green Envy”
which displays an angry red-headed woman
with only leaves to cover her, and “Sexy”
which shows a woman in only lingerie
and feathered wings. The man yanks his baseball
cap further over his gray ponytail and leans back
against the shelf, nothing to offer the boy.
The glossy women on the fireworks boxes watch
me wipe gunpowder from my brow
and climb the ladder, unassisted.
My roommate sits cross-legged on her bed,
tapping her slender fingers against her cheekbone.
I look up at her, her paint-splattered freckles,
her dyed maroon hair tucked behind her ear.
She stares back at me, eyebrows knit together.
I don’t know. I can’t think of a time someone treated me
differently because I’m a girl.
By Ally Blovits
Ally Blovits is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University studying creative writing and theatre. When not in East Lansing at MSU, Ally lives in Grandville, Michigan with her parents and her twin brother. Ally’s work has previously been published in Apiary Magazine, The Sheepshead Review, and LAMP poetry collection.