Fierce Fiction: the dot that launched a thousand ships


A small Miranda Story (as written by Aimee Swartz)

Carla began drawing on a fake mole when she was getting ready for school.

“A beauty mark,” she explained, as if I had asked. “Sometimes the littlest things make the biggest difference.”

Each morning, she used a black felt-tip marker to make a perfectly round dot – usually above the right side of her lip, but sometimes above the left. She was so careful, but in a matter of hours, it would begin to smudge

With the dot, Carla looked older, and seemed sophisticated, sometimes even glamorous. Around this same time, she began to wear skirts without tights underneath and learned to straighten her hair using a blow dryer and gel that smelled like watermelon. Carla was born with a full head of hair that never fell out and she liked to tell people this as if it were a story she could actually remember. Her hair was thick and wavy and dark enough to be mistaken for black. This made people comment because the rest of us were fair with unremarkable hair.

A boy named Chip began asking about Carla. Chip sat next to me in virtually every class because our last names were nearly identical and we sat in ABC order. I did not like Chip because he used his fingers for simple math problems and picked his nose when he thought no one was looking. Chip was pale with eyes that were bloodshot from allergies. He was allergic to almost everything, except for apples and pears, and could not go outside for recess anytime after the ground began to thaw in case he got stung by a bee. I felt sorry for him because of the allergies, but it was hard to overlook everything else.

Until recently, Chip hadn’t said a word to me in years, and that was fine with me. I came to learn that Chip’s brother was in Carla’s grade, and that they also sat next to each other in many classes. Chip’s brother told Chip that Carla was the only girl any boys talked about.

“You two don’t look anything alike, you know. My brother showed me her yearbook picture,” he said. “My brother and I aren’t anything alike, either. He’s fat, but really popular.”

I said nothing, just smiled without using my eyes, the way Carla had taught me.


Photo Credit: fgm878/