Scraps

My sister is Batman. I am Harlequin. My mother has sewn interlocking diamonds of various fabrics over a pair of footie pajamas for me. I don't look like the stringbean man in the posters. I'm a fourth-grade girl.

Since my father has died, I think of myself as free to not be a real person. I hop between life and death. There's nothing morbid in this. I'm only a fourth-grade girl.

None of the kids at school understand who I am, but Halloween is forgiving. Even Kyle, who dresses up as a woman, is only mildly teased. When asked by my classmates if Harlequin is real, the teacher, Mrs. A., replies, “Oh, yes,” with an air of authority so convincing that it shuts everyone up.

In the evening, on someone's front stoop, Batman sticks out her tongue at me. The night is black and she blends in as intended.

Batman has soared ahead of me in life. She's only six and her teachers are more impressed with her than they ever were with me. She can draw anything. This year I had the option to start playing an instrument in the school orchestra and I declined. At nine years old, I want to retire.

None of this seems real.

I tell adults, “I'm Harlequin.” They say, “Of course you are.” I appreciate their good sportsmanship.

The costume was the first thing I'd wanted in a long time. I arranged the pieces of fabric the way I liked them.

After trick-or-treating, I watch a science program on television. On the screen, there are detailed nature shots from around the earth, and then the camera seems to zoom out to show an aerial shot of the whole planet, dressed in ragged scraps of color.

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