How Barbie Came to Live in Our Barn
Chantel Tattoli

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 us fuzzed.

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 hair.

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.

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