Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maybe if we pretend this isn't happening

Oh, but right, I didn't mention: every time we go anywhere, everyone stares. I mean everyone. At the laundromat it's mostly the kids who talk and point and laugh, until finally one of them comes up to us and says: Are you from Boston? Like it's some faraway place, maybe somewhere around the Bermuda triangle.
These kids have heavy East Boston accents, almost like Southie but maybe a little more nasal. I'm starting to like these neighborhood accents, even if they often come attached to awful people. And sure, I could point out to these clueless kids that hello, East Boston is really just a neighborhood in Boston, okay? It's not like it's its own town or anything. But instead I just nod my head — sure, we’re from Boston.
This kid looks impressed. And then she actually tells us her name, Mary. I say I’m Mattilda, and I hold out my hand but she says no, Mary.
No, I say – my name’s Mattilda. Ew, she says — that's a girl's name. And then all the kids rush out of the laundromat like we're giving them cooties. Truth be told, we are using the hot cycle on the washing machines, just to make sure we don't have crabs again, but what were all those kids doing in the laundromat anyway? Isn't there somewhere better to hang out?
Abby and I go back to doing laundry and then standing outside where it's not quite so sweltering, pretending everyone isn't looking at us. Latinos in one direction, Italians in the other — another segregated Boston neighborhood but I guess everyone's united about us: we don't belong. Although it's the Italians who get aggressive. Like those drunks in the square, waving their fists and yelling something involving a lot of fuck, and maybe some faggot – but wait, they’re kind of queening it up — oh, I get it, they think they're making fun of us.
Then we’re on Maverick just off of the square and someone starts yelling hey, hey from behind us, but we’re not going to fall for that one. Then a bottle flies right over our heads, hit someone’s wall and smashes on the sidewalk just a few feet in front of us. Maybe if we pretend this isn't happening, it isn't happening. Some women opens her door and looks out at us like we’re the problem. I look her right in the eyes, and she closes her door. Then some guy with greasy hair comes out of his house up ahead rubbing his eyes like he can't believe what he's saying, and then he just starts screaming what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck are you doing in my neighborhood?
Actually it's our neighborhood too, I say, and he says what, what did you just say? What?
I say we live here too. Honey.
And he spits on the ground like he'll choke otherwise, then rushes back inside and you can hear him going up the stairs in heavy shoes. We keep walking, and just after we pass his house there’s a really loud noise behind us, kind of makes me jump inside and I'm still trying to act like I don't notice but Abby’s already turned. Mattilda, she says, that was a cinderblock. I'm looking at her and she’s biting her lip and we’re both holding onto the laundry cart and pushing from different sides because otherwise it starts to collapse. This is ridiculous, I say, but then I can tell she's about to cry so I reach over to touch her hand even though I know maybe that's not the safest thing. But what is the safest thing? It's not like anyone hasn't noticed that we’re queens. So we push the laundry cart the rest of the way just like that, with my clammy hand on top of Abby’s sweaty hand, frosted blue fingernails on top of fuck-me fuchsia. At one point Abby starts to shake like she's going to cry, just before we get to our doorway, so I stop pushing and look over at her. Her face is all pink, glassy eyes and just a hint of dark eyeliner contrasting her reddish blonde curls and freckles and I noticed the light is really beautiful right now.

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