Inevitable Lakeside Poverty, With Love
We were all femaling. Doing hair flips, stomachs flipping. What was it about those adventures that was so female? I know: the flying. I know now: the corn. The first part was the micro financing. The microcosm-ing. Then the Guatemalan afternoons. We developed rules for ourselves: spending this many quetzales a day. This many eggs flipped a day. One head of lettuce a week, disinfected. But eventually, everyone got infected. The inevitability of infection is why you shouldn’t worry about infection. Lost my Ray-Bans at the gas station during said inevitable sickness. The gas station was the most American thing. No, the most American thing was the water. We hung ourselves: over the sides of boats. Out the sides of busses. Busy? No. Happy? No. Doing hair flips again, stomach flips more often, flipping out over lakesides like those American aqua-obsessors. Spending time on inevitable loneliness. Spending quetzales on banana lakeside shakes. Drinking them in, gulping, like we drank in the many many boats.
There was a chess game with pieces as tall as us. I could see it from the gymnasium window; I was hustling on the bike. I was sweating, moving the pieces around in my mind. Horse two up one over. Queen diagonal, along the horizon line. The other girls were doing crunches. Bam Bam Bam. Crunch Crunch Crunch. Such a girly Guatemala. Such calculating moves. We were weighing ourselves, combing through equations, doing an absurd amount of math. The numbers! The queen! A bus as packed as our back packs, our bodies out the side. Rode the bus to nowhere, just to hang out at some market. Then we were all hung out on Negro Modelos with Jorge, the surrogate son of the Dutch woman. We were all flipped out on cocaine one night with the cult members, and finally two of us hugged each other. At other moments we were too close to hug, but the cocaine and the cult members made us count ourselves as farther away.
What was it about Dońa Helena’s bungalow that was so goddamed feminine? All it had was cabinets, drawers, places to put things. Female cabinets: is that inevitable? Cavernous places to hide? Sheets that slide off the corners, exposed mattresses, terrors in the night. When the sheets slide you are inevitably infected by poverty. You’re flipping over your pillow. Flipping your lid. You’re in a cocaine den and there’s ice in the ice cabinet. There’s a disco going on outside. And the other girls are doing activities in the other room while your bed sheet betrays you. By crawling under your skin. By creeping off its corner. Your cavernous cabinet of a mind going flying. Your cavernous cabinet of a mind microcosm-ing. A corn kernel. A gymnasium. A far off filthy place.
And then: we were flirting so much with the circus performer. The one who did back flips. The one who flipped oranges into the air. We were juggling, too, but in a mental way. Juggling Pablo with Americans, weighing them. This many pounds of lakeside versus this many pounds of familial familiarity. Flip flopping in our flip flops, looking down. Dońa Helena grew angry when it grew late, and so we snuck in, tip toed, soft pawed, cried. The inevitable loneliness of flip flops. The exposed feet. The barefoot back flips and the flippers of the fish. The lakeside. The fallen orange. The most American flipped out thing.
Meet up at the cabana and Negro Modelo yourself into anti-loneliness. The surrogate son of the Dutch woman acts sexy with the one of us and not so sexy with the other. He flip flops. And female jealousy reflects in the reflection of the lake, calculates like a move, a chess piece as tall as the one of us. We do not hug each other. We order these and this from the cabana person. We cabana into the Negro Modelos. We hang ourselves from the edge of the other one’s sentence. We make inevitable exits at inevitable times. We flip on the lights. We flop on the bed. We do not converse, because all has been said. And the night terror comes inevitably late and the Negro Modelos make inevitable headaches. The poverty sheets, inevitably poor. My poor flip flopping mind going Bam Bam Bam. My poor infection going Crunch Crunch Crunch. My poor Guatemalan woman who I microfinanced into credit and my Dutch lady hugging me soundly safe. My chess piece playing me. My surrogate Jorge. My dream time stabbing. This egg flipping naturally. My brain time, my flipped out mind, my pillow turning over in the poverty bed. My little hard hands going country hungry, pulling the sheet up north.
Molly Prentiss Molly Prentiss lives and writes in San Francisco, where she is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative writing at the California College of the Arts. She has been published in Glossolalia, The Plaid Review, Saveur Magazine, and others. Molly also enjoys working in visual art, and both her writings and drawings can be found at: mollyprentiss.blogspot.com