The Sabbath Meal
I Am Learning
The Ice Cream Cone
The Girdle, a Woman’s Best Friend
My Own True Voice

The Ice Cream Cone

It was late afternoon, about 4 or 5 o’clock, and the sun fell slantingly across the girl’s face as she ambled slowly home, kickball tucked under one arm, slowly licking a double vanilla ice cream cone from the store near the school. She liked to stay late and play kickball after school, and sometimes she would treat herself to an ice cream cone on the way home. Chocolate was certainly more interesting, deeper, more complex; but there was something about the cool whiteness of the vanilla against her tongue that she had always favored.

This year she had been chosen captain of the sixth grade kickball team—the first girl ever to have been chosen. Even though a few of the boys in class were as tall as she was, she could still run faster than any of them. When she ran, she just ran, she didn’t think about her breasts bouncing, or whether sweat was running down her back; she just ran to beat the footsteps that had never managed to catch her.

She was the only one in her class to have breasts and hips and to have started her period. Most of the time she didn’t think about those things, except sometimes boys would look at her in a certain way that was exciting, that made her run more slowly. At home, her parents said she needed to lose weight, and had taken her to the doctor to get a diet. That was last year, when she was 10. Every Sunday after breakfast, Dad would weigh her. She dreaded Sunday mornings, because she never seemed to lose weight, and the look of disappointment on her parents’ faces was difficult to bear. Sometimes on Saturday night, she would sneak into the bathroom and play around with the scales until they would weigh a pound or two lighter. Then her parents were pleased and she was free for another week.

A few blocks from home, the girl slowed her steps slightly, the ice cream cone half gone. Her thoughts were on dinner and reading in her room later. The sound of a car slowing down made her turn around, and she saw her mother in the family car, slowing down to offer her a ride. The girl saw her mother’s expression change when she saw the ice cream cone, and the car sped up and drove off, leaving the girl standing on the sidewalk. All thoughts of cool vanilla vanished. All thoughts of running like the wind disappeared as the girl threw the rest of the ice cream cone into the bushes and trudged the rest of the way home.

Laurie, 50


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