Here’s Why: Short fiction by Anne Leigh Parrish

May 20, 2016 | By | 1 Reply More

Here’s why.

You slump, shrink, curl down in your seat, never stand up straight. As if an arrow might pick you off. Not an arrow, a bullet. Not a bullet, a blow. Not a blow, words. Not words, looks.

Here’s why.

You’re a freak. Four inches in one year? Your father’s colleague says he keeps looking for the stool you’re standing on. Oh, and too bad about that limp. Too bad you’re pigeon-toed.

Here’s why.

You hunger to be a little girl, petite, with tiny hands, and a snappable bone. Those girls are legion. You want to absorb them, eat them up, until you become them. Only some want to become you. I wish I  could see over! Can you lift me up? Your clumsiness attempts, and fumbles. The little girl has some heft to her after all. You clomp off, away. She finds another friend. You don’t.

Here’s why.

You dance with the tallest boy in the sixth grade class because he’s the only one you can look up to, some sad soul in a plaid shirt who can’t tell right from left.

Here’s why.

Your big sister hates you, because she’s only five foot four. On those three inches – the ones you have and she lacks – is written the twisted history of your relationship.

Here’s why.

You cry in a closet, the closet in your father’s house, the house he has with his new wife. What are you doing in the closet? Looking for something to wear. The brown and black shirt strangles you. The panty hose in the top dresser drawer only make it thigh-high. She’s a tiny little thing, as your father loves to say.

Here’s why.

Your self-esteem never improves. Even after physical attributes no longer rule. Even though your intellect blossoms, your talents refine, your artistic vision expands. You can’t let go of having been the giraffe in the room.

Here’s why.

You hate bullies. The ones who make fun of a child’s teeth, or nose, or scruffy hair. You’re a mother now. You show up at your daughter’s school from time to time to help out. You’ve told more than one irksome little beast to lay off, though your words are more politic. Do unto others, you say. You command attention because your voice is clear, your hands are gentle and dispense, brilliantly – joyously – a small delicious chocolate chip cookie as both a reward and bribe.

Here’s why.

They must crane their necks so far back, and squint against the sunlight. Because you’re tall.

Anne Leigh Parrish’s debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost, came out in October 2014 from She Writes Press. Her second story collection, Our Love Could Light The World (She Writes Press, 2013) was a finalist in both the International Book Awards and the Best Book Awards. Her first collection, All The Roads That Lead From Home (Press 53, 2011) won a silver medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She is the fiction editor for the online literary magazine, Eclectica. She lives in Seattle.

What Is Found, What Is Lost: A Novel (She Writes Press, October 2014), Finalist in the Literary Fiction category of the 2015 International Book Awards

Our Love Could Light The World: Stories (She Writes Press, 2013), Finalist the short story category of the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; Finalist in both the 2013 International Book Awards and the 2013 Best Books Awards

All The Roads That Lead From Home: Stories (Press 53, 2011), 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver Medal Winner




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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, Short Fiction

Comments (1)

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  1. Such powerful prose, thank you for posting this! I love the repetition, and the fact that it’s up to me, the reader, to work out what the question was. I have a few possibilities in my mind. That makes the reading experience all the richer.



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