Strawberry Snuffles
Claudia Smith

Mother, I am scared. I hide outside, at the neighbors' house, drinking Tang and watching Hot Fudge after-school cartoons. She is there, in my room.

Strawberry Snuffles is under the blanket, hiding.

"Tell her to come out," you say. Come out, come out, Strawberry Snuffles! Your husband, my father, smirks. Strawberry Snuffles shirks her duties. She smells like a plastic toy straight out of the box.

And her hair! A long brushed mane flows, clogging the drain with: violet, magenta, mauve, rainbow bright. She is so girly, you know. She blinds us all. I am for a cave, for the smell of dirt, sweat, or real flowers. Strawberry Snuffles, your eyes are like pies in your pink face! You are a disgrace to your kind. You smell like an old lady's bathroom. Wipe your nose and stop ferreting around in other people's bed linens.

A rat is more honest.

A doll has better manners.

I heard her! She is giggling scurrying behind my eyelids.

Cut her out.

If you take liberties with Strawberry Snuffles, remember. Mother, you taught me that learning how to cut properly can mean the difference between unevenly cooked dishes and poor flavor. You taught me the slice, the chop, the back-slice, the rock-chop. I am holding steady, curling my fingers into a claw and tucking my knuckles, the way you do.

Claudia Smith's most recent book is QUARRY LIGHT, a collection of stories.

Read more of her work in the archive.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Melly Kay.

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