My aunt French braided my hair at a family party, and I dreamt myself beautiful sitting on the floor as she pulled on my hair. I was desperately disappointed when I looked in the mirror and saw the shellacked rows of hair. My blonde hair was black and shiny with hairspray. I was crestfallen, an ugly child who had dreamt her face rosy and her hair elegant. Somehow I had ended up even uglier.
She dropped us off at the dance. This was not going to be my night. I knew it. “I have a feeling this dance is going to suck.” I thought I sounded grownup and fashionably resigned. My aunt disagreed. She turned around and quickly slapped me across the face.
A slap is hot and red. I blink in surprise and in the space of that blink, a slap borders between pain and pleasure. My brain is confused and waffles between the two until my cheek heats up and the red washes over my face. I quickly cover my slapped cheek with my hand. Maybe to protect and comfort myself but more likely to cover myself because with the slap I know quickly and without doubt that truly my very presence summons great anger and disgust in others. My face is mapped over with needle pricks.