Editor's Note





Contributors' Notes

Tarnished Girls

Sara Lamers

I: Jon Benet Ramsay It was more than the weight of that hair that made it difficult to hold her head high. At least Christmas morning they let her stay pajama-ed. She stays in the year she got the Barbie Dream House. It was perfect, the way Barbie fit at the dining room table, the way the doors of the closet glided on a little track. The way her feet crammed inside the plastic shoes. Perfect how tall she stood. Why, were Barbie on stage she could peer over the heads of the crowd. She could nearly make out the faces. If it weren't for all that light glaring back. II: The Dionne Quints Interchangeable. That's what the nurse knew. So she did what was easiest: lifted the same bundle five times to the window, to the onlookers below. How they cheered. How they never tired of the thrill of five babies, five girls at that! See them grow to settle into this roadside attraction life, see them grow to know their own names only in relation to the others, only as a string of sound: Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Emile, Marie, syllables blurring so that each will ask which one am I again? Which one? III: Mary Yates Later she knows: somewhere her mother must have gotten stuck in girlhood for good. Her children her dolls, bright eyes, fragile eyelashes and fingers that fumbled with buttons. The brothers all went first, and Mother's hands made quick work. And oh, wasn't drowning so much like baptism anyway? A crest of water, its flutter against a crease in each brow. A little like slipping away.