“What is this?”
Mama held the dress high, pinched between her thumb and forefinger.
I’d found it at Cira; used the money from six months of chores to pay for it. A dress, to tuck in a drawer—to only pull out when I was alone—to imagine who I could have been. Who I should have been, but wasn’t. A secret so unutterable I’d never said it, not even to myself. My mouth fell open, helpless to answer her.
Her dark eyes flashed. Her look said she knew—that maybe she’d always known, but she needed me to say it. When I didn’t, she draped the dress, fold on fold onto her lap. The fingers of one hand caressed the silk. “A beautiful dress. For a beautiful girl,” she said.
I was neither. I stared at my lap.
“Child, when I said you could be anything, I meant it.”
This story was inspired by reading about Michelle Suárez Bértora.