Most say girls stop playing
with Barbie when their
friends do. I didn’t
because I was the older sister
and our attic, renovated
in creams and whites,
had become a
I stopped when my
sister held a Tommy doll
to Barbie’s bare breast
in front of mom and attested
to knowing that this was
how babies were fed-
that I had told her.
I stopped when I feared
she would discover the way
I put Barbie on top of Ken in
bed and I tore apart
the Velcro pads sewed onto the back
of her shirt to keep
Now, I realize the sound
of Velcro departing Velcro is that of
a pad being pulled off
panties. It’s something I should have
been able to pick up on then, because
I still wore belly-button high
Barbie underwear when I
stopped playing with Barbie.
We fell asleep in a room that was 65 degrees
at the highest – mid July,
around 11:15 pm.
I was wrapped in your zip-up, maybe
your sweat pants.
I was buried underneath hotel sheets
and a stupidly thick comforter.
I had puked up pink vomit
and called it a night.
The next morning of our vacation
you told your parents that we
We drove to a dive:
The Athen’s Diner (on the placemat
it goes by another name).
It was only us and a few tables packed
with old men drinking coffee.
We moved onto the city to: decorate our clothes
with museum badges, eat matching meals
of Cape Cod chips and grilled cheeses,
before inevitably arguing with the GPS
on where our next destination was –
back at the hotel, so that we could hang
the sign from the doorknob
and try sleeping again.
Shop Rite Cart
I overheard you talk
of Cheerios and wanted
to know if your mother
slipped you into a school dress
and combed your hair
before breakfast in a kitchen
that had not yet had an avocado
colored phone from the 70’s.
The dinner you place
in a Shop Rite cart,
I can only assume most of it
Parents now long passed
siblings married and responsible
for the ones pointing at the shelves
as the cart wheels click along.
You showed me a photo of you
at a coworker’s retirement lunch in
which my only recollection is
the black sports coat. I’d been
with you the morning of. Waiting
for the others, you pulled your
hair back with a comb
like James Dean.
I wonder now if there was a wine
glass in that picture that was
yours. Tipsy, I’d imagine
you flushed and shy
gently wrapping your fingers
around my elbow, humming
the theme song to Mister Ed,
the only song I knew of that you
committed to memory.
Carrie Tolve is from northern New Jersey. She spends most of her time divided between work, binge watching Parks and Recreation, and reading. She has been published in Mock Orange Magazine and has work in the upcoming issue of The Meadow.