Once Upon a Daydream
Ashley, 18, sleep deprived
Combinations we’d never even dreamed of:
Names too long to remember.
Dark chocolate ice cream with raspberry
cheesecake pieces and caramel bonbons,
sweet cream ice cream with bumbleberry compote
and jordan almond fudge chunks.
After rinsing our mouths with toothpaste
and slicking lip gloss over our teeth
like a film of wax, we pounded the two miles
of sweating concrete every Wednesday at eight p.m,
an army of cheap earrings and thin ankles.
We didn’t ask our mothers if we could
shave our legs, but left shreds of bloody
toilet paper like one hundred tiny flames
in the trash can for them to clean up. We wore
our t-shirts low and swinging. We ogled at the brass
chins of boys too distracted to flirt back.
We filched twenties out of our mothers’ purses
and our fathers’ worn leather wallets and blew them every
week on portions of red velvet cheesecake
supreme so big they seemed impossible.
On Sundays, we went back after swimming
in the local pool, clad in the bikinis our mothers
did not allow us to buy. We liked the way
our salted hair swung damp over one shoulder.
We liked the way this left wet spots on our t-shirts,
liked any mark we left on anything.
Workers clad in red aprons scooped ice cream
and poured caramel and bleeding
maraschino cherries over chocolates and
thick sauces, mashing them together with two
silver spoons, turning and twisting this glob
so loudly it made our teeth hurt.
All of us thirteen and shining in our new bodies.
Our hands still pink and bruised from the
chlorine clutching cardboard cups disintegrating
under the waning heat of the Midwest.
None of our mothers were dying of cancer. None
of us worried about our children perishing in motor-boat
crashes or freak accidents at bowling alleys.
The gangly workers used to go down the line
of plastic trays: sweaty gummy worms,
cookie crumbs big as pennies, red and white sprinkles,
dark and white chocolate chips, caramel sauce
glazed over from the air conditioning, and each
time they would ask us if we wanted the topping,
spoons already full and sloping.
We nodded, eyes bright and hungry.
We said yes to everything. We thought
what magnificent women we’d be.