by Andrea Lynn Koohi
One day my best friend and I decide we’ve had enough of Barbies. We’re sick of brushing butt-length blonde hair and dressing long plastic limbs in mini-skirts. So one day we tie long strings around their torsos and fling them out the window of the store-top apartment where I live with my mom. We let them dangle above the sidewalk in post-bungee jump bliss before reeling them back in to see how they look. These, we see immediately, are changed Barbies. We admire their spunk and disheveled hair, and we like how they look like they’ve been somewhere, like the kids in our class who leave on trips our moms can’t afford and then magically return somehow taller than before.
Soon our Barbies start talking about pot and tattoos and running away. We cut fringes into their clothing and dye their hair with purple Kool-Aid. And not a day passes without a jump out the window – their “don’t give a shit” leap into the unknown.
One day a woman on the sidewalk screams when a Barbie descends head first from the window and comes to a halt in front of her face. We giggle as she yells at us for being hooligans and I pull the Barbie up fast in case she tries to grab it. It’s fun surprising people, making them look up to the sheet-covered windows in the homes above the stores they never knew were there. Making them see that we are there.
We wait until the lady is well out of sight and toss our Barbies out the window again. This time, though, my Barbie comes loose. She lands face-up on the dirty pavement, her hair like dead snakes around her staring head. There’s a second where my friend and I stare back at the stillness, something snagged in our throats, before one of us laughs and we breathe again.
Andrea Lynn Koohi is a writer from Toronto, Canada, with work appearing or forthcoming in The Maine Review, Pithead Chapel, Streetlight Magazine, mac(ro)mic and others.