We bow our heads so my dad can bless the food
we are about to eat. When he finishes, I mouth
with the rest of my family so as not to look suspicious
and we start to fill our plates.
My uncle and cousin at the far end of the table
are fighting over deviled eggs. Grandma and Rudy
are making some loose compliment about
the quality of the meal when my aunt says
Courtney, where’d you get
those boobs from?
Obviously not from your mother.
My dad clears his throat through a mouthful of
dry turkey and my mom and I study
the tablecloth. And now we are two
frogs splayed across the table,
bodies open and ready to be dissected –
Her question hangs in the air like a scalpel.
They don’t know that ten minutes after the meal,
I’ll kneel at the toilet, trying to pull these growing
things out of me by reaching down my throat,
or that last week I didn’t eat in hopes that they
would just deflate, fall away like two
forgotten balloons. I don’t tell them
that the girls at school whisper slut
at me whenever I walk by,
that their rumors follow closer than my shadow.
Or about my seventh grade substitute teacher,
who sat on my desk, turned and showed me
exactly what tool he wanted to teach me with.
The first time my C’s were valued higher than A’s.
But shame does not pair well with dessert, so I chew
and swallow and try to excuse myself when my mom says
I don’t know, but I’m happy she didn’t get mine.
I guess that’s something I’ll understand
when I’m older.
© Courtney Tala
Courtney Tala is a twenty-five year old from Virginia Beach, VA. She is currently a student in the MFA Creative Writing program at Old Dominion University. She is definitely a scorpio. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with a book (or a drink, or both) in her hand.