Everything at home was pink. Porcelain painted in lilacs, yellow light bulbs coated in dust, standing beneath a lace shade, blinking anytime someone left the room. Glass swans swam in a perfume lake. They hit their heads on bracelets wrapped in gold, and tiny crystal earrings that hung too low. Ballerinas danced to music boxes just to stay alive. There were mirrors everywhere, always reminding me that my makeup was smudged, that my necklace was crooked, that I wasn’t pretty enough to be the prom queen.
He liked to feel my breasts. I didn’t want him to lift my skirt up, didn’t want him to see the scars on my thighs. I told my mother it was a shaving accident, told myself it was because I drank a bottle of wine in the bathroom, made my mind fuzzy and gave my thoughts to my hands. He kissed my neck too hard, touched my nipples until they bled. But he played football and drove a Chevy, won Homecoming King two years in a row, and he didn’t mind my pink-striped sheets or the hand-me-down bras I got from my sister, with their faded straps and jutting wires.
We spent most of our time in the old football field, sprawled out across sunburned grass. The ground was veiled in abandoned cigarettes and I liked to finish them off while I waited for him to show up. Let them dangle from my lips as he waltzed his way to me from the parking lot, his crimson letter jacket bleeding into the tree line. He never said hello, never whispered my name, just pulled my face to his and twirled his tongue across my teeth. It was something about the way the sky moved above me, about the smoky taste of someone’s mouth running circles in mine, about his eyes tracing the mountains on my chest over and over. It made the earth spin, made my body numb, made me believe that bliss was something you could drown in. It helped me forget about tutus and pink lemonade and the ribbons my mother used to tie in my hair, about all the things that made me a girl. He tugged at the lace below my stomach, yanked it down over my knees. Finally, I could breathe, and my scars could silently fade into the beaten earth.
My mother always told me I should wait. She told me the right one would come along someday, that I just had to be patient. When I was thirteen she sat me on my bed, on the floral quilt she bought me for Christmas two years before. Her hands were swollen with years of washing dishes, cooking pot roast, and pleasuring my father beneath their silky sheets. She had lipstick on her front tooth, and her makeup didn’t hide the wrinkles beneath her eyes, leaving her looking like every other mother, tired and broken. Just like your father, she gushed, holding her hands to her heart. I cringed knowing that my father slept with whores every Tuesday night in the back of our station wagon outside the In & Out Burger. He told her he was at a PTA meeting and she never questioned a thing.
It didn’t take me long to decide that the right one was just a lie mothers told their daughters to protect them. At night they’d pray we’d believe it long enough to keep ourselves away from their mistakes, and maybe, just maybe, they could live through us. Make potato salads for picnic parties, toss our toddlers in the sand by the lake, and catch the twinkling gaze in our husband’s eyes. Finally believe in a love they’d never seen. But I knew I’d marry a man with a job, he’d think I looked sexy naked, we’d have children and my middle would bloat. He’d grow tired of me and pay other woman, younger woman with blonde hair and thin thighs, to blow him behind the monkey bars at the park. So I stopped believing in pink. Stopped painting my face in powder, stopped wearing lilac sundresses and crocheted headbands, and at night I smashed my porcelain dolls against the hardwood floor until I couldn’t tell they were smiling.