Bentley did not wash her hair. Just sprayed the de-pigmented white strands into a dollish swoop curtaining black-lined eyes. Such drawn peerers were these, looking both dull and remorseless.

In a sticky twilit park, after a dinner of pizza and ice cream, we ambled through mosquito clouds to rid Bentley of her professed “heavy” feeling. I walked beside one of the group, brimming with cloudy thoughts, and watched her: her hair, frizzing with a peach-like sheen, fuzzy with untouchableness; her bones, carving lines in a thin spaghetti-strap top and a high-waisted secondhand skirt made of wool; her showing roots, almost as dark as mine, the solitary link to a rounder woman in wedding photos hung high up on their crayoned walls; her child-size tights, stretched out in shadowy patches that her three-year-old daughter kept plucking at.

Little Emma’s hair, also blonde, was not often washed either. They told me this, proudly. In the stale city air, it became Temple-like, full and bouncy,  as she sweatily darted from pair to pair of us, demanding in monkey words to be swung high into the darkening sky. We took her sweaty, swollen hands and swung.

She did not cry out at the sudden bike turning the corner into her. But Bentley, moving more quickly than I had imagined she could, snatched Emma up by the underarms. She dangled the plump toddler down the length of her own small body, until the bicyclist had passed.

Then one tired plop: Bentley set her back down. A hand clambered to her forehead. The white strands had flown, for a moment, free.


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