“Exactly how they want you to be” by Julia in J’s Attic

Friday May 10, 2019
9:49pm
5 minutes
Martin John
Anakana Schofield

She sits, pretty, mouth closed, because pretty
She is 7, going on 8, she is the middle child
Her younger sister is wearing white beside her
She is wearing white
Her sister youngest is beside her wearing white
They are all to be seen, not heard, no peeps, no sound
Mother does the talking
Mother always does the talking
Mother talks circles around Father
Father says little but is feared most
She is sitting, not speaking, no peeps, wondering
Am I Allowed To Go To The Bathroom?
Am I Allowed To Ask If I Can Go To The Bathroom?
Am I Allowed To Need To Use The Bathroom?
The clock ticks a slow death, a burn, a punishment
She is counting everything she knows how to count:
chickens, lashings, siblings, six of each
times she woke up from being unconscious:
three, and one she is not remembering
The adults are eating, maybe laughing, but none of them see
They don’t see three pretty little dolls sitting on the couch
Three pretty little dolls, dolled up for the sake of looking at
Three pretty dolls too afraid to move or be heard
She sits still with her hands clasped in her lap, knuckles itching
The way a nightmare might