After Michael Ondaatje's "7 or 8 Things I Know about Her -- A Stolen Biography"
By Makai Andrews
I’ve never seen her hair in the same style twice. Yesterday, it was one tight
french braid that ran down her neck, blonde highlights twisted into thick loops that
looked like the ropes pirates used on their ships. Last week, she had orange tips.
Before that, two buns, one on each side of her head. She says she can wash out the
color and comb it back before her parents get home. Tomorrow, she’s planning two
long pigtail braids. I want to feel like I’m at Woodstock.
Her boyfriend is from a different part of town. He gets bused in every day
from the south side. He has metal bars over his bedroom window and grease stains
on his t-shirts. Once, she wanted to bring him home to meet her parents, so she
pulled him into the school bathroom and locked the door. She sat on the sink and
washed the gel out of his hair, combing it back with her fingers. Her house had a
security code and a water fountain in the entrance. She peeled off his grimy shirt
and replaced it with a red button up; his dirty jeans with black dress pants. Sneakers
with oxfords. People came to her house to trim her hedges every other week,
rotating time slots with the men who came to clean the pool. She washed her own
hair and combed it back. He reached out to touch it like a man seeing a virgin birth.
That was the only time I ever saw her hair down. She took off her leather pants, her
Joan Jett t-shirt, and put on a white sundress. It was spring.
There are cigarette burns on the backs of all the books she didn’t like the
She found an arrowhead on a hiking trip. Spent all afternoon sharpening it on
a rock. Got one of the guys in woodshop to drill a hole on the bottom end of it so she
could hook it onto her keys. She sharpened it behind the bleachers on the football
field, polished it on the edges of her desks at school. She rubbed it through her
fingers during Calculus. When she didn’t want to be in class, she would let the edges
slice the inside of her palm, and slowly hold up her hand to the teacher. I’ve run into
some trouble, can I see the nurse? There are hundreds of scars on the insides of both
She talks about going to music festivals. Talks about jumping into the crowd
and letting them carry her body from one end of the masses to the other. The
people’s hands on every inch of her body, desperate to keep her up. Says it’s best in
the summer, when the sun is hot on your face and it feels like you’re wading in the
ocean. But sometimes, she says it’s more like they’re carrying her dead body
towards the grave site. The smoke from the cigarettes is like the smoke that comes
off of a gun, letting the world know she’s dead. Says she’s never felt more alive.
Makai Andrews was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and is now a junior creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in flash fiction, short story, personal essay/memoir, and poetry. She was a finalist in the 2015 Albion College Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest, and her work appears in Lip Magazine. She first recognized her desire to be a writer after reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Some of her other favorite authors include Marya Hornbacher, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Megan Stielstra.
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