How Barbie Came to Live in Our Barn
We found her face-up to the sky, naked, some hundreds of footsteps deeper
into the Concord woods than my cousin and I were allowed to
be. Probably we wouldn't have spotted her if the rains had
not turned the leaves such a dark humus. They had though, and
her fair plastic skin lay obvious against the ground.
We picked the brunette rot from her blonde hair, traced her pert
cheekbones with our fingertips.
What was Barbie doing out here? we wondered. Had she run away? Maybe
she had read Walden; we weren't far from the pond, perhaps
she also wanted to live there.
She was the size of our mothers, and Ana crooked her arms under the
armpits while I held the ankles on the way home.
Mom cleaned her up and volunteered her most petite dress.
The barn can be her home, she said. And we made her furniture of hay.
We tea partied; Ana and I measured ourselves against Barbie. She was so
pretty! We wanted our chests to fill out, and our thighs to
taper into our knees as narrowly as hers. We imagined
ourselves, grown up and handsome; we tried to. The sight of
Barbie lived with us up through high school. She sat aloof on a bale,
wearing the same dress long since faded, in the barn become
hang-out. Often I laid down my head in her lap and hollered
Cat Stevens lines at the mice. She smelt of forests, cigarette smoke,
and Avon scents, a heady combo that made the wallpaper
dance if I lay there for too long.
The barn was wallpapered with old international newspapers Daddy had
picked up on business abroad, and I wondered if after so many
years, Barb had not begun to understand those headlines in Mandarin
and Arabic. I imagined she'd left for somewhere after she disappeared. I saw
her elsewhere, in the medina, buying henna for her black
Chantel is a senior
undergraduate student in anthropology; she believes the people in ethnography and the
characters in literature are both rendered by authors seeking to
establish a place where strange Others make sense. She has work
forthcoming in Pank and Fantasy Magazine.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200901barbie.htm
Detail of design on main page courtesy
of Cherry Soda.
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