About the Writer
Cyn Vargas is the winner of the 2013 Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction. She has received a Top 25 Finalist award as well as an Honorable Mention award in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers contests. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing- Fiction from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Curbside Splendor, Hypertext Magazine, and elsewhere. She writes because it's her way of legally exposing herself in public. www.cynvargas.com
That Girl used to be my Best Friend
We double-dutched in seventh grade and beat the girls from room 209 to win that trophy made of wire hangers and cardboard then went for pizza, grease sliding off the cheese like syrup. We chewed the rim of Styrofoam cups, spitting at one another and laughing. Then from our identical porches only a few feet away, I saw the pink and black thread from your friendship bracelet coming undone. I waved goodbye as Henry rode by on his bicycle, throwing out a hello to you and you threw out a smile at him, forgetting to wave back at me before you went inside your house.
That Girl in High School
The boy I like likes you with those curls that bounce as much as your chest. Not at my locker, but at yours, leaning against it, how his shoulder must feel, heavy and sweaty through his gym shirt the color of a ripe banana. You smirk and bend. He watches and you watch him watch and I don’t look that good bending, I’m sure. My shirt doesn’t come out like that on top, my skin not smooth like glass, your laughter like waves on a cloudless day and mine like a car that won’t start. He likes you for all this. And because of all this, he doesn’t notice when I’m not around.
That Girl with her Mom
It wasn’t hard for the wind to carry her yells into my house: “You’re too fat. A size six is two sizes too big. Look at me. I lost forty-five pounds eating fruit for five months. Your breasts are too big. Don’t wear tight shirts or boys will think you’re a whore. I already see lines around your mouth. Don’t laugh so wide and don’t laugh all wild. Laugh like me. You know? Pretty. Be pretty and life will be easier. Only hang out with the pretty girls. Ditch the one next door. It doesn’t look good you hanging with her. If ugly girls don’t like you that’s a good sign. And those curls. The ones with the frizz at the ends like they want to attack passerby’s, the ones like your father. At least he had to shave his head to go over there. I’ll buy you a straightener. Your curls don’t know which way they want to go. I’ve seen better hair on a clown. Fix it or what will the other girls think?”
That Girl in Class
I had to tell you: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know whether I should say anything, but I heard your ma yelling at you yesterday. Again. I think she forgets that her kitchen window faces ours and my ma never closes the window because she doesn’t believe in artificial air. Anyway, I know we aren’t close anymore like in grammar school, but I want you to know that the way she talks to you is wrong. I remember her always being a little mean. I heard about your dad being over there. My uncle is deployed too. Your dad will be back soon, you’ll see. Anyway, I wanted you to know that you shouldn’t listen to your ma. You’ve always been the pretty one and you’re not fat and if you just stopped hanging out with those phony kids I think you would be happier. Yes, Mrs. Hutchinson. I was just talking to her about homework. I better get back to my seat. If you want to come over later, you know you can. I miss us hanging out.”
That Girl with that Boy
The burst of whispers in the hallway like a million sneezes say it went like this: “Come on. You know I love you. I know we’re young and all, but I’m always, always going to be here for you, baby. Don’t worry about it. My parents won’t be back for at least an hour. I knew in my heart the first time I saw you in gym class, I had to be with you. Let me kiss you right there. See? That was nice. You’re beautiful, girl. I bet all of you is beautiful. Why don’t you show me? C’mon. It’s ok. I won’t tell anyone at school. I promise.”
That Girl on my Porch
I found you there when I got home. Plopped in the same spot you used to be in when we’d watch the sunsets during the summer. I sat down next to you like we used to do, one-step below near your knees. You began to cry, but still looked pretty there although your eyes were as flushed as your face. “Why are you crying?” I looked at your bangs straight across your forehead, the curls drooping besides your eyes like moss. “School must be easy for you, though I know no one really knows your favorite color, or that you’ve had a crush on Henry since seventh grade or that although you don’t act like it in class, you’re smarter than a lot of the kids you hang out with. You don’t have to do anything with anyone you don’t want to do, you know?” You leaned into me, letting me hold you. I thought I heard you mutter something about being friends or being sorry, but that’s when your mother screamed out the window for you to get home. I never had a chance to ask you what it was you said.
That Girl and the Note
I found it folded in a triangle on my front step. It said: Thank you for yesterday. For talking with me, but let’s keep it between us. No one needs to know we talked or whatever. At school I passed by your locker, your hair straight like rows in church, you were talking to that boy, and the other girls laughed. You peeked at me and said nothing as I threw the note away in the garbage nearest you and made my way to class.