Hands Off

Ashley Kunsa

 
 

I wasn’t letting the boys touch me.

“You can look,” I told Lucas. I told Malachi and Emory the same thing. “But touching will cost you.”

*

Miss Hendrikson stretched to 5’10” and weighed 129 pounds. She once performed off-Broadway in a rendition of Hairspray. In home ec, she taught us to make monkey bread—paint the dough with butter and brown sugar, bake it ’til it plumps—and then she taught us to toss every last crumb in the trash.

*

I didn’t mean money, of course. I wanted their Twinkies, their potatoes au gratin, the floppy fettuccini their mothers packed in Snapware with a Post-It note proclaiming, “Have a good day, dear!”

*

For breakfast, Miss Hendrikson prescribed one cup of egg whites and one half of a medium-sized banana (51 grams, minus the peel). For lunch, greens with four ounces of lean protein, spritzed with lemon. We had to wait until after rehearsal for dinner: a can of tuna and two veggies, steamed. Dessert was a plum or eighteen grapes.

*

Emory demanded more than side boob. “You know the deal,” I said and pointed.

*

Miss Hendrikson’s sister, Valeria, did a mascara shoot with a girl whose cousin walked in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. “Those Angels would rather starve than allow a single grain to pass through their lips,” she told us reverently.

*

Two bags of sour cream & onion, a box of orange Tic Tacs, a half-eaten ham sandwich, some trail mix. Before the backdrop of a nineteenth-century garden, they marched forward, off the stage, and dropped their offerings into the gaping garbage can near the exit sign.

“The Nutter Butters, too, Marvin,” I said.

*

On opening night, salted caramel tarts and cookie dough cheesecake squares blanketed the prop table, sickly sweet and untouched. “This will only make you stronger,” Miss Hendrikson said, standing guard as the curtain disappeared.

*

I never felt their hands kneading my butt and thighs, pushing into me. What I felt was their hunger.

 

 
 
 

Bio
Ashley Kunsa's creative work appears/is forthcoming in more than two dozen journals including Sycamore Review, Los Angeles Review, and Bayou Magazine. She is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT. Find her online at www.ashleykunsa.com