I am a happy orange-haired girl playing with dolls. Playing store and house. Playing with Mommy's hippy clothes from the closet. I label them and price them, set up shop. I sell the clothes to myself and package them carefully in plastic Kroger bags. I have twelve dolls named Barbie, all identical, save for certain hairstyles and clothing.
I sway my shoulders and move the dolls back and forth to a song filtering in from the next room. Stevie Wonder. The dolls are old and ratty; one is missing a foot—chewed off by my little sister. The feel of lightness made heavy digs into the pit of my stomach. Light made heavy. Always a dull thud down low. Always a scratching at my insides. Silence like Superstition.
Very superstitious, writing's on the wall. The lyrics drowning behind twanging too loud, inside brass and bass drum pedal-squeak, under electronic riff. Too loud and my head is too heavy from the sound of that song. My body painfully out of place. Something is hiding. Something is creeping. And I am not okay. I wrap myself in clothing, pull the fabric tight to my chest. Pinch my nipples angrily through the cotton. Too much. Is it wrong: with no one to molest me, I molest myself.
I begin to strip. I am ten years old. All games turn to rape. I tear Barbie's panties off and wrench her legs to the sides of her head. Ken looks at me eagerly.
Staring mute at her breasts—large, tapered, smooth—it is what is not there that leads me astray. It is the missing nipples which beg me to find them; the missing cracks which invite me to make them.
A tingling down below. A dark smack of pleasure and quiet. A pain, impossible need. I rub Ken against her, break her legs to make room for his hips, scissor her blonde hair off. We ravage the Barbies.
I make the universe. I control the s-e-x. Barbie likes it. She is using Ken. She is insatiable, desirous. Shh, whisper now: f-u-c-k.
I utter the word, quiet and low. Silently. Eyes turned down, a far away look of suspicion. Fucking. I want to lay under the mulberry tree with Bobby Tucker, to feel his body pressed to mine, on top of me, still and curious.
I dress the remaining dolls: high heels and a ball gown; a bikini top for one, tiny shorts, plastic flip flops, and earrings; a nurse uniform. They are so tempting in their little clothes. Ken greedily takes three dolls at once. He leaves them scattered naked on the floor.
Barbie wants to live with a different girl. A girl who takes her to tea parties, beauty pageants, and swimming with Skipper, Midge, and Stacey in the pink pool with rubber lawn chairs and pocket-sized towels. Laughing with their graceful hands holding their long wavy hair off their perfect smiling faces.
My favorite has brown hair and eyes that are clear and green. I dress her carefully and slowly, in little white panties with lace edging, blue jeans, tennis shoes, and a pink T-shirt. We save her for last.
You don't wanna save me, sad is my song. The pink T-shirt is barely on, stretched tight over her protruding breasts, before I am pulling it off again. When all is done and Barbie and I are both down to our underwear—skin to skin, cheek to cheek—I watch her out of the corner of my eye. I sit cross-legged on the floor with my small body too big compared to Barbie's slender limbs. Ken is tossed aside; I will be her assaulter. She smiles warily at me, wondering if it is time for a change of clothes. She does not want this.
Title graphic: "Pink T" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2009.