I have a few upcoming published nonfiction pieces, and this one, “Heavy Fruit,” was recently released in So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art, which is based out of George Mason University in Virginia. Having my work (as in my highly personal nonfiction work) out there for the world to see is nerve-racking, but in a good way. Being published is something I’ve wanted for a long time, and being back in grad school has helped me get there. Since this piece is now officially in the journal, I thought I’d share an excerpt of it here, too, and I’d love if you’d visit So to Speak and read the full essay, as well as the rest of this issue.
I finished my lunch and emptied my tray in the cafeteria. I was no longer just a weak 6th grader, but had moved up in the world to 7th grade and was experimenting with eyeliner, so things were looking up. I walked outside to the gravel lot behind the cafeteria where everyone would goof off until the bell rang for the next class. Some kids would sneak a smoke between the buildings, and I always thought it was gross how they all shared one cigarette, just passing it around from mouth to mouth. My bright yellow t-shirt was new, and I felt pretty wearing it, as it set off my dark hair. I watched my friends flirting with their boyfriends of the week, and as I moseyed around the lot, a boy came up behind me. I heard his voice before I saw him, sniggering with his friends, and I felt his skinny, pale hand grab the back of my bra strap, where the clasps met under my shoulder blades. He pulled it back to snap it against my skin, but pulled so hard that I fell backwards onto the graveled ground, knocking the wind out of me.
My laugh was too loud as I shook the gravel out of my hair.
After graduating college, I was asked to be in three different weddings in the same summer. The freshman fifteen had found its way to my body, plus thirty more, and my breasts seemed to keep growing. I knew I’d have trouble shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and dreaded the process of finding something that would work.
In the cramped dressing room, none of the samples would fit. I pulled and tugged, but nothing would fasten. The girl at the dress shop finally sized me with her tattered tape measure, and informed me the size I would need would cost more.
“Since it’ll use more fabric than normal,” she said.
That summer, I spent $600 on dresses I’d never wear again, and $50 on a copay for a consultation with a plastic surgeon.
Read the full essay and the fall 2017 issue here.
Artwork by Amina Re.