(C) 2017, Santino Prinzi
Last week, Mum’s friend Tanya tried to pry my old Barbie from my hands.
“You shouldn’t be playing with that.”
But I didn’t let go.
The same thing happened at school during show-and-tell; Mrs Smyles told me I was supposed to bring in one of my toys and not my sister’s, and I said that I didn’t have a sister. She took away my Barbie, but Mum got it back for me when she collected me at home time. Mum made me wait outside the headmaster’s office while she yelled at him a lot.
“What are you doIng?”
Mum walked into the living-room, her eyes-wide and eyebrows raised high. She looked at Tanya the way she looks at me when I’ve done something naughty.
Tanya gave my Barbie another hard tug. My Barbie’s arm snapped out of its socket and I fell down. My Barbie and her arm clattered to the floor between the two of us. I scrambled them; I couldn’t put my Barbie’s arm back into place. Mum helped me up and kissed my boo-boos, but it was on the inside I was hurting. I didn’t know why Tanya was being so mean to me.
“What do you think you’re playing at?”
“Those toys aren’t for…” Tanya stared at me, then at My Barbie. “He’ll turn out… funny… you know?”
“You know what I mean. He won’t be like the other boys.”
“And if he isn’t that’s perfectly fine.”
“Those people aren’t right.”
“I think it’s best you leave.”
Tanya didn’t say anything else. She left without Mum showing her the way out, without Mum waving from the front door as Tanya drove away.
I tried and tried but I still couldn’t fix my Barbie. She looked different with a missing arm. Mum took the broken piece away from me, said I could choke on it, and bought me a new Barbie. I didn’t let her take away my one-armed Barbie though; she was perfectly fine to me.
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Santino Prinzi is Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day UK. His debut flash fiction collection was published by The Nottingham Review Press in September.
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