A HISTORY OF TWO
Be honest, I said, and you answered with a citron tongue. Hard lemon candies slick and sour. You were the one everyone loved to look at. Mirrors still turn towards you when we walk. Why has your laughter been so generous lately. If friendship is a room, this ceiling is much too low. It was there that I knew the tang and sting and flounce of it all. The starch of our plans sometimes scratched you like obligation. Our smoked almond irises. The woman reading aloud in this candlelit room tells about the time a boy took you to the moon and left you there without a ride back. You walked my jewelry home. A wish for a higher ceiling, more space between us. Our sly jokes skipping, but you forgot to call me for a year. Lemon pangs encased in sand. Then we forgave on subway cars, on the phone, on bristolboard and barstools. The savour of my laughter interrupted by moles, grains of wedding rice, scattered across your belly. My handwriting was once influenced by yours and that is the most embarrassing and loving thing about me.
GIRLS AT LARGE
A whole life with girls, I mean women. All the women I know got to be that way because they were girls with serious faces. The men keep coming and going but the girls are a staple, a chronicle. A need, not a want. “Homosocial communities are the norm throughout the East, organized around customs like purdah.”
In Canada the girls are everywhere. In high school, they circled each other’s waists with their hands, insisting on smallness. Hair always collapsed from tails and buns and braids at the right moments. They did not need to flirt, these girls. They simply tilted their heads when they laughed.
Some of the girls are nowhere. They live in large caves where their thoughts echo back at them every hour, on the hour, like church bells. They have faith in loneliness, that it will teach them something, that it will cleanse the blood. The wafer like a bedroom slipper. The sad bottom of a beer.
My girls sit like an armchair ring of advisors inside me. Hopeful skeptics, a determined sort. They flop and flail as the men come and go, run amok in my body when they finally find the things they want to say, two weeks too late. My girls cry on other brown girls.
When did brownness become a virtue in girls? When did it tune and pluck and vibrate them to the strings of other people? The girls I know with serious faces also laugh, and their laugh is a drum so thunderous it scares everyone into looking.
Rudrapriya Rathore recently completed her English and Creative Writing degree at Concordia University. She won the Irving Layton Award for Fiction in 2014 and has worked at Soliloquies Anthology and Yiara Magazine in the past. She lives and writes in Toronto.