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Heslin, Kate, Traded for Goats


Kate Heslin
Age: 13, Grade: 8

School Name: Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Educator: Todd Johnson

Category: Flash Fiction

Traded for Goats

Her name is Lize and she is my grandmother. She stands with a metal rod for a spine and stares forward with that look in her eyes, the same look as all of her older, married sisters, her eyes glazed over like a new terracotta pot. She stands in a bulky wedding gown, her hair curled like little roses pinned to her scalp. When she looks at old photos she always says, “Look how skinny I was! I used to weigh 42 kilos you know!” She wears a dress the width of a small car. Her skinny lips, my mother’s lips, stiffly stick to each other. She isn’t a mother yet, she’s just a girl that her father traded off to another man in exchange for a goat, while she sat and nodded, “okay, okay.” She isn’t the woman whose hands ache like creaky floors whenever she moves. She isn’t the woman who sits all day in the kitchen, looking out the window, hiding behind eyes like broken glass. She isn’t the woman who tells me to gain weight or else I’ll never get married and I’ll never be able to carry the laundry basket. She isn’t the woman who sits cooped up in the house all day because her husband won’t let her leave.  She isn’t the sad, stiff, lonely women yet. She is the hope-filled, blue eyed woman, drowning in her wedding dress, clinging to a man she doesn’t love with her metal spine, terracotta eyes, and skinny lips.