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Story by Gail Siegel (Read author interview) March 15, 2008

Rhonda says her favorite American Idol is the boy with the slick hair and JoJo says hers is the fat girl with the tight dress. Laurie doesn’t have a favorite because Mama and Jake don’t have a teevee. Laurie is stuck with Rhonda and JoJo at a table in the art room so Laurie sucks a loose thread on the frayed cuff of her sweater.

When they stare at her, waiting for her favorite, Laurie whispers, “We don’t have no teevee.” Rhonda clucks her tongue. “So? You can download it to your iPod or your computer.” JoJo makes the same chicken-y sound, and shakes her rubbery face.

Laurie’s favorite number is ten, so she rakes her art supplies into piles of ten: ten red beads, ten Popsicle sticks, ten crayons.

Rhonda passes her lip gloss to JoJo so they both smell like coconuts. Laurie doesn’t know if she smells like anything, but her fingertips smell like crayons.

On the sheet in front of her, she will draw ten doll-eyed girls holding ten blue balloons with a ruby bead in the center of each. She will glue a frame of Popsicle sticks along the edge. One of the crayon girls has a deep pocket in her dress, and an iPod in her pocket; it’s the girl with the prettiest hair. Nobody can see it, but Laurie knows it’s there. She adds butterfly bows on the balloon strings, as if they were kites, and never lifts her eyes from the paper.

About the Author

Gail Siegel’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in lovely places including Brevity, StoryQuarterly, 3:AM, Quick Fiction, Salamander and Post Road.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty
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