June 20, 2021 by The Citron Review
by Beth Gilstrap
The girls of Faye’s youth remember it different, of course. Twiggy and Roxane and Gloria and the rest. They were the kind of girls who made out when the overhead light clicked off and the blacklight flicked on and began casting, casting, casting. Faye sat off in the corner on the bean bag chair, picking at a tear in the pleather, flicking excavated Styrofoam pills at them, smelling inexplicably, like oranges. She claimed she had a new body lotion from that faux farm hyper-scented place at the mall where the workers kept samples in their gingham apron pockets, ready at all times to demo, to reach for a hand, to rub apple blossom, pumpkin butter, and all manner of funk down into your thumbs. To smooth ragged cuticles. To ease, to beautify, to feminize, to arm with trickery. The kind of trickery that got you invited to make out parties where everyone transformed Cheshire and gleaming.
But, they remember it different, those girls.
They remember when the tape got eaten, how they pulled and pulled to get it out of the boombox. After they wrapped Debbie Gibson’s ribbon innards around the plastic carcass and tossed it aside, one of the boys put on his “special” mix. Radio men saying coming at you live, coming at you fresh, coming at you hot, hot, hot. Those girls remember Faye alright, how she rose from the bean bag chair, climbed on the coffee table, and started breakdancing. Before they knew it, she was on her back, ankles crossed, checkered Vans spinning like she’d never stop. If she had opened her eyes, she may have seen their slack-jawed faces, their frozen bodies, the electric blue wash over their lacy shirts, how they pointed at the boys’ underwear—Spiderman in fact—peeking out of the top of her pants but she didn’t, she kept on spinning until the thin table gave way beneath her and utterly pleased with her performance, she hopped up, and did a little kickspin before walking out the sliding glass door and into the moonlight.
Beth Gilstrap is the winner of the 2019 Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Prize for her second full-length collection Deadheading & Other Stories (due out October 5, 2021). She is also the author of I Am Barbarella: Stories (2015) from Twelve Winters Press and No Man’s Wild Laura (2016) from Hyacinth Girl Press. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Denver Quarterly, The Minnesota Review, Hot Metal Bridge, and Wigleaf, among others. She currently lives and writes in an old shotgun house in Louisville.