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in ache

Story by Melissa Llanes Brownlee (Read author interview) March 21, 2022

Art by Markus Winkler

she shuffles in flea market slippers too big for her flat walk-on-lava feet you going grow into dem no worries she veils her tears in a hand-me-down hasn’t been quite white in a while mu’umu’u you gotta wear dat to church so stop making any kine or you going get it she feels adult in her first brand new blouse-not-shirt she buys from the Ben Franklin sale rack you better wear em to school and take em off when you get home or else she handwashes and hangs it oh so carefully fingers tracing edges of blue and white scallops you stay stop daydreaming and finish da laundry she shows it off once a week imaginary books on top of her head and her back model straight you better stop wearing it your chichis stay getting too big she buys heels with backs rubbing her skin raw blood dripping you going need band aid but not going for help you she pinches her toes hard to fit you going get hamajang feet a lesson she learns in ache scrubbing the dried mess of her mistakes the leather ruined forever

About the Author

Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer living in Japan, has work published and forthcoming in swamp pinkCraftMoon City Review, Fractured Lit, Wigleaf, and The Threepenny Review, and has been honored in Best Small FictionsBest Microfiction, and the Wigleaf Top 50. Read Hard Skin (2022) and Kahi and Lua (2022) and look out for Bitter over Sweet (2025) from Santa Fe Writers Project. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at melissallanesbrownlee.com.

About the Artist

Markus Winkler is a photographer from Germany.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-Five

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