Iowa Writes

CHLOE LIVAUDAIS
Locked (Part 1)


Brooklyn wears blue silk pajamas with the top unbuttoned and waving. The pants are so baggy and smooth that she must pull them up every few steps with her right hand, and when she touches her exposed belly button she laughs coyly at us as if asking Oh how long has this been open? I am wearing a short red dress that belongs to my sister Bonnie, and the front is baggy because there is nothing where there should be breasts. When the group of us stands in a line to lip-sync "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, I am supposed to be Ginger Spice because I am wearing the red dress and I know all her lines. To my left, my cousin Stormy has her hair stuffed into twin pigtails that flap behind her like the sleeves of an old sweater. I dance next to Brooklyn because it is my birthday slumber party and because she is the most beautiful. We are all thirteen years old.
        Stormy, because she is Baby Spice, opens her eyes very large and sucks on a multicolored sucker she found at the back of the kitchen pantry. When we come to her part in the song she has to slurp the candy back and clear her throat, which makes Brooklyn roll her eyes because We're going for real here guys. Courtney, whose feet are swelling over pink high heels like run-off from a waffle maker, watches Brooklyn instead of the camera, her hands clenched and white. At the end of the group, Whitney's Sporty Spice spins a baseball cap around one index finger and twists a spiral of gum around the other, which she stretches out in a long rope of wet pink. I try some moves of my own, jumping up and wiggling around in the dress and running my hands along the flat plains of my hips. It is Brooklyn, however, whose silk pajama bottoms catch the light in a way that is almost like water, the three tiny studs on her left ear whirring in a cloud of gold as she moves. She is the first to make a peace sign with her right hand (a move decided in advance) and lift it into the air at the end of the song. The moment after we yell out "Girl Power!" we drop our hands, though she continues to pose, her hips pushed forward, eyes on the camcorder, the brown hair at her neck swooped out like a cat's tail. Dazzled by her, we find our way back to our places and stare at the camera until Brooklyn pulls up her pajama bottoms and suggests that we go again but this time louder.

Brooklyn wears blue silk pajamas with the top unbuttoned and waving. The pants are so baggy and smooth that she must pull them up every few steps with her right hand, and when she touches her exposed belly button she laughs coyly at us as if asking Oh how long has this been open? I am wearing a short red dress that belongs to my sister Bonnie, and the front is baggy because there is nothing where there should be breasts. When the group of us stands in a line to lip-sync "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, I am supposed to be Ginger Spice because I am wearing the red dress and I know all her lines. To my left, my cousin Stormy has her hair stuffed into twin pigtails that flap behind her like the sleeves of an old sweater. I dance next to Brooklyn because it is my birthday slumber party and because she is the most beautiful. We are all thirteen years old.
        Stormy, because she is Baby Spice, opens her eyes very large and sucks on a multicolored sucker she found at the back of the kitchen pantry. When we come to her part in the song she has to slurp the candy back and clear her throat, which makes Brooklyn roll her eyes because We're going for real here guys. Courtney, whose feet are swelling over pink high heels like run-off from a waffle maker, watches Brooklyn instead of the camera, her hands clenched and white. At the end of the group, Whitney's Sporty Spice spins a baseball cap around one index finger and twists a spiral of gum around the other, which she stretches out in a long rope of wet pink. I try some moves of my own, jumping up and wiggling around in the dress and running my hands along the flat plains of my hips. It is Brooklyn, however, whose silk pajama bottoms catch the light in a way that is almost like water, the three tiny studs on her left ear whirring in a cloud of gold as she moves. She is the first to make a peace sign with her right hand (a move decided in advance) and lift it into the air at the end of the song. The moment after we yell out "Girl Power!" we drop our hands, though she continues to pose, her hips pushed forward, eyes on the camcorder, the brown hair at her neck swooped out like a cat's tail. Dazzled by her, we find our way back to our places and stare at the camera until Brooklyn pulls up her pajama bottoms and suggests that we go again but this time louder.
        When we have run out of blank tape, we dig into the leftover birthday cake, the lipstick peeling off our lips and onto our forks. Whitney sits with her legs sprawled out in front of her on the floor, and pushes her hair behind her ears just to hear the tink-tink of the bracelets on her wrists. The first knock at the front door is covered up by the music that is pulsing from the stereo, but the following knocks are more erratic, off time with the beat. Our heads spring up like birds, and each of us looks at each other. Did you hear. . .? What was that? The knocking continues, becomes louder, and I think I can hear a voice yelling something on the other side. We are all standing now, and Stormy is holding onto my arm like she hasn't done since we went through a horror house together when we were very young, the sleeve of my pink Rainbow Brite t-shirt wrinkling under her sweaty hands. Brooklyn is standing next to me, her weight shifted onto the balls of her bare feet. She is scared too, but she is also smiling at me in a way that says It's your house. You lead. Her warm fingers are nudging me ahead of the group, and I am suddenly aware of the sound of my own breathing, which smells sweet with sugar.
        There is a man on the other side of the door. He is young, with long dark hair swept over his eyes and a khaki jacket over flannel. He is knocking on the door with his hands, which makes a loud slapping sound on the door, like fish flailing on a deck. I see his face on the other side of the glass panel, and from somewhere behind him a cloud of orange light. It's difficult to hear what he's saying over my own breathing and the whispers behind me and the tugging of my dress, which only now seems too short. The group of us stands at the top of the stairs and looks down at the man on the other side of the locked door. I feel exposed, as though I am standing there naked in the hallway. I want someone to open the door for him but the idea seems too dangerous to imagine, as if there are other men hiding just beyond our view, scrunched down in the bushes like ground bees.
        The man is yelling something that sounds like help, and I think he is sweating, even though it is January. I realize that I am still standing at the head of the group, and it feels so wrong that I look towards Brooklyn, wanting her to make the decision. But she is laughing, the noise a very soft wheezing, like the springs of an old mattress. She looks over at the man and at us and then back at the man, saying This is crazy. Isn't this so crazy? I hear Courtney try to imitate the laughter, a heh heh heh from the back of her throat like a car starting up. Whitney is giggling beside her, though the fingertips she has stuffed into her mouth muffle the sound. Her eyes dart from Brooklyn to the doorway and back again. The man is still yelling, and the glass in the panel is shaking from the pounding. I try to laugh as well but the sound is lodged in my throat, and I can't quite remember how to get it out. Brooklyn grabs Courtney's wrist and flings her towards the door, giggling hysterically when Courtney lurches backward, almost falling; she does the same with Stormy, and since she is still clinging to my arm I also lunge forward onto the second step of the stairway. With a sweep of her leg Courtney upends Brooklyn at the top of the stairs, who goes sliding down all silk and smooth legs and a wump wump wump of laughter. With a thump Brooklyn hits the door, her legs outstretched above her head. When she looks up at us she is still laughing, her breath coming out in jagged gasps.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


CHLOE LIVAUDAIS

Chloe Livaudais is a third year MFA candidate in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa.  Her work has been published in ReCap, Qu Literary Journal, and is forthcoming in Little Village.  She is originally from Auburn, Alabama and currently lives in Iowa City with her husband and two cats.

Locked will appear on the Daily Palette in 2 parts.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 2!

This page was first displayed
on September 29, 2015

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