Wendy Bertoglio


Just What I Was Afraid Of

It was back when happiness was only found in multiples

Sweet sameness

The music, the pens, the fringe on too-short cut-offs

Same clip of development

My memory radiates around this moment, but not far

I can’t remember why I was in the hall alone

With the rose tiles flanking my exposition

My subtle application into the ranks

Of flirting with boys and feigning annoyance with maxi pads

Of wearing mascara and face powder

That would be washed off before the walk home



She stomped toward me

With her oversized shirt that hid the baby fat

That wasn’t going away

She was not kind or good, but she tolerated me

I was grateful for this

Her parents owned a ranch

It captured our hope for an invitation

To stop by and go on a ride sometime

She saw my display

Visible in the right light under my white shirt

I remember a smirk, maybe an eye roll

I could be making that part up

She flipped her head around after she passed

Her high ponytail of hair twisted to slap her face

Like hitting a pest as she spoke

By the way, you don’t need a bra

I remember how I felt because I feel it now

Shallow breaths of shame

Stopping in the bathroom and shoving it to the bottom of my bag

Where it stayed for weeks

Gathering pencil marks and crumbs

I entered my classroom just as I had on other days



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