Fiction · 08/08/2018

Lingerie

My grandma likes to buy me lingerie. When I get the free time and Ben is busy, I visit her and we go shopping so she can buy me a new see-through nightgown. Aunt Mary comes with us sometimes. Aunt Mary, who has no breasts from her mastectomy, picks out bras for me to try on. She wants me to wear lace garters, but I tell her no one wears tights anymore.

Her and Grandma dress me up, handing over rhinestone push-up cups from just outside the dressing room. I open up and their eyes shimmer with longing. I think about Ben’s eyes. How he has seen their gifts and torn them apart. How his eyes glow like grandma’s do when he holds my mouth and nose shut until I finally stop crying, and then he gets afraid and starts crying too.

Aunt Mary smiles and Grandma runs a hand over my smooth skin, my fresh blood. She says we’ll buy them all, then meets my gaze and warns, “Stay young, child. One day it won’t look like that anymore.”

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A New Jersey native, E.J. Schwartz is an avid reader, writer, and Chinese jump rope master. She was previously the national president of the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) and now studies and teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.