Rain was pouring down and I could barely see where I was running.
Trees crashed behind me, I jumped over some rocks, and then cowered under a fallen trunk. The ground shook as a dinosaur as big as the house roared and tore its way to me. Flat on my back, I looked up into its big yellow eyes. Its jaws opened, with sharp teeth and slobber everywhere, “Stockton to Malone. The Mailman drives to the basket. Oh! Foul by Pippen! It’s too late in the game to be making those mistakes.”
Concentrating, I tried to make my hand trace the lines in my head. My eyes stayed closed as I pictured the abomiddable face in front of me. I traced its jaw, gave it eyes and claws, erasing and re-drawing, making it perfect. I waited for a minute on what to call it, and could barely keep the butterflies from flying out of me when I figured it out. I spelled “D-y-n-o-m-i-t-e!” and underlined it.
“Dad! Look at what I did!”
“That’s great. Can I have your autograph?”
I didn’t find the connection between my drawing and a long-necked Africa animal, but I got the feeling he thought he was saying a joke. I got the feeling like I should say something or ask him something, too. But I didn’t since moving goes fast and words go slow; I was already walking back to the table almost happy Dad saw my drawing. I only wished he knew it was T-rex.
When I sat down to do another one, Kelson and Bambi ran down the stairs shooting their nerf guns. I joined them. It was a lot of excitement when we made war. Soon they were getting hot and they took their shirts off. I was hot too, so I hurried and took off my pink and purple polka dots to chase Kelson down. Flying through the kitchen, my mom blocked in front of me and grabbed me.
“What do you think you’re doing? Get your shirt on right now.” She covered me again real fast like she didn’t want me to see something. It was bad, whatever it was.
“How come they take off their shirts and I can’t?”
“Because you’re a girl and girls don’t run around without a shirt. It’s nasty.”
“You just don’t. It’s nasty.”
I didn’t want my shirt on, it wasn’t fair. I wanted to have fun the same as they did, but now I didn’t because what Mom said.
“Ha! You got in trouble with a capidal T!” Kelson shot at me, laughing.
It made me too mad to even hit him. He was free to fight wars, and nobody made so many rules for what he couldn’t do. Whoever made rules for girls was ignerant because they didn’t know I could do everything boys could then beat them at it too. Beat them hard. I was stronger and faster. I had guts. Every time I won them I showed I was worth something, worth more, that I wasn’t weak and I had guts. I took my pink and purple polka dots and mad guts to the living room.
“Come here, young lady.” Dad held out his arm from his couch throne. I hesitated. Dad picked me up and laid me on his belly. He wrapped his arms around me, holding me on his stomach. “Are you my little princess?” he asked. I felt like I liar to Dad when I nodded yes. But I didn’t lie all the way. A piece of me wanted it to fit since he said it so nice.
My head lay flat on Dad’s stomach, relaxing and letting it fit for a second. I thought, I’m Dad’s little princess; over and over again when he breathed out: Dad’s little princess. I felt warm and kind of safe. “I’m going to have to get a shotgun when you get older.” As he brushed his hand through my hair, I looked up. He took his eyes away from the game, briefly. “Yup, going to need a shotgun for my princess.”
The Jazz won like they always did, and it was time for bed. Mom and Dad went upstairs. Me and my brothers nested in the living room with our blankets, staying quiet to go asleep. I rolled around a lot. It was really hot, so I put my Mermaid blanket aside. I sprawled out, starfish, exemening the lines on my blanket, bored and uncomfortable. Then I noticed something. Mermaid’s a girl. She’s not wearing a shirt. Mermaid’s a princess and she’s not wearing a shirt. I looked around. My brothers were sleeping. Everything was quiet. Mom’s esplanation didn’t make any sense anyway, so I didn’t put any stock in it. I re-covered myself with Ariel and wrestled my shirt off.
I didn’t like the feel of my skin on the carpet, and feeling my own skin was weird. I guess that’s how Mom meant by “nasty.” But I wasn’t weak and I didn’t like pink. I was stronger and faster, could do anything boys did and then beat them at it. I kept it off.
Dad’s little princess.
Falling asleep, I tried to figure out what Dad thought his princess would do so wrong that he needed a gun.