Emmie came back after summer with a white bow and a pink dress, done up like
Sunday. All the boys and girls wanted to know– where’d you go, Emmie, to brown like that? Where’d you go to tan? Nowhere, says Emmie with a laugh. I went nowhere. And that was the truth.
Emmie lives in the big house on the little hill, three streets away from school. She never wants to live anywhere else, she tells me. The house has a tree out front, real strong and doubled over like an old crone and ripe for climbing on Thursdays after we shed our socks and books, lemonade all sucked out from twisty straws in her kitchen. In the mornings I wait for her under it and she walks to school with me, white bow and brown bag and plastic charms on zippers bouncing lawlessly behind us.
Sometimes, when she’s in the mood, Emmie walks just so, with her shoulders back and her hair swinging like fire behind her. Like little bits of flame, all teasing and ready to gobble you up and spit you back out. Then people pay attention. Emmie with her white bow and black flats can walk the hallways like a queen, nevermind her shortness, thank you very much. She likes it when people watch. It’s in the hips, she confides to me. You make them swish right, and then nobody can look away. Nobody. And that was the truth.
Emmie doesn’t make her hips swish for the boys. If she wanted them, she would have them, but she doesn’t. She could have gone behind the tree in the schoolyard with them last Friday like they asked, and given them her white bow and soft lips like they begged too many times, but instead she planted herself on the cracked concrete and folded her arms and shook her head stubbornly no. She doesn’t want the boys, she tells me as we sip our lemonade. They’re not the ones that make her walk the halls like fire. Like little bits of flame. Like a queen.
Photo Credit: Jessica May