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MCG, a Chicana feminist, for sure, teaches community college English

Monday, December 31, 2012


         Whenever you ask your stepdad for a ride to town, he tells you to get a ride with Paul, his friend who’s been coming over a lot lately after work or on the weekends to drink beer. They work construction together. Your stepdad is a carpenter, a good one. You don’t like Paul. You only want a ride from your stepdad in his truck with his beer cans on the floor. You ask again. Your stepdad tells you that Paul’s driving to town soon and that you can get a ride from him. Why can’t you just wait?
         “I can give you a ride,” Paul says nodding hopefully, his stubby fingers wrapped around a sweaty can of Budweiser.
         You don’t say anything and decide to start walking before stupid, ugly, drunk Paul decides to leave and sees you walking down the road and tries to pick you up, tries to give you a ride. It’s summertime and you have a few hours of sunlight left to use up on getting out of the house. You’re bored. You need a soda, something cold. You’re tired of listening for Randy and Al’s Oldsmobile at the end of the driveway and thinking about Al coming up your driveway in dusty jeans, his long strides, and cool, slow gait.
         You don’t know why your step dad doesn’t get it. He’s a pretty smart guy even if he has started liking Ronald Regan, the cowboy president who wants your mom off welfare, who called her a ‘welfare queen.’ So we got tired of living off of lentils and blocks of government cheese and she let her boyfriend move in and started dealing too to make a little more money on the side. We are finally not just barely making it. We have a washing machine and a dryer. We don’t have to hang clothes on the clothesline anymore or take extra care shaking the stiff jeans extra hard when taking them down from the line to get the earwigs off. You’ve been stung by one those bastards a couple of times.
         You look at the sky a lot because it’s big and blue and beautiful. You wish that you could see over the mountains. You see yourself in your mind, one tiny person at the bottom of a valley, surrounded by tall, tall mountains, no way out.
         Even your boyfriend Al doesn’t like him, doesn’t trust him, has seen the way Paul looks at you up and down out of the corner of his eye. You go to your room whenever Paul’s around, but when Al’s there you don’t have to. Al shoots him dirty looks and encourages you to sit with him somewhere in the yard, but you know Paul is putting ideas in your stepdad’s head, asking questions about you and Al that your stepdad doesn’t want to answer.
         It’s crazy having to protect yourself like this all the time, from just a feeling, a bad feeling in your stomach. If it weren’t for Al, you’d think that you were seeing things, that you were making it up, that it was all in your head. But you’ve been on that ride before, someone else’s truck, hands, fingers, your skinny little girl legs.
         You want to scream at your step dad, scream at him right in front of Paul. “I don’t want his ride. Don’t you get it! Don’t you fucking get it!”
         But you don’t. You don’t scream. You want to, but you don’t.

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