So that is what she became.
DON'T BURN OUT
NIGHT OF 9 HOURS
FIRST LOVE HEARTACHE
STAIN THE WATER CLEAR
& Margaret MacDonald
Genevieve hates it when her mom calls her unladylike. She likes the way the mud feels on her barefeet. She likes feeling the wind touch her untamed legs. She feels like a mountain woman, like her Aunt Lily in Washington. Her skin weathered and rough, cheeks burned scarlet from the sun and the wind. At peace in a place where there are not any ladies, only women who laugh at words like messy and impolite, whose eyes crinkle the corners of their eyes when they see upturned noses or elongated gazes. Women whose bodies cannot be bound by madras skirts and gingham dresses.
Why even wear the shirt, she asks, if it will get muddy any way? Her mom says that her rudeness, her unresigned crudeness, is oozing all over; it must stop, she says you must stop it this instant, before it sticks to the family name. The grass stains and mud stains upon the clothing (do not forget it, her mother warns, the clothing that I bought with my hard earned money) those stains will last forever, even after the after the wash, after the stain remover rubs them raw. But it seems, she thinks, that where the stains are permanent, mom’s understanding is ephemeral. Her understanding erodes quicker than the earth beneath a mountain woman’s feet, quicker than the soil around her family tree.
But Genevieve tells mom to buy her mountain girl clothes. Thick denim shorts, cotton t-shirts, they will last long, believe me, she says, I know. But mom says mountain girl clothes are not for little girls with big dreams. Especially ones, mom says, who have mothers who put on dinner parties, run businesses, and pay the bills. Ones who hope their daughters will go to prom holding the hand of a beautiful white man, not a gamma, not a beta, a strong alpha man. But men like that, she says, do not want little mountain girls they want shiny, happy pretty girls. The ones, Genevieve says, with smiles as wide as the arms keeping me from running away.
It seems that the name tomboy has gotten to her mother too, it is not a bad word, but the scary thing is what it can turn into. Sloppy, homely, lazy, dyke. Names like these surround the mountain woman archetype. They do not come with great old grandmas to hold you in their arms, unconditionally they will raise you until they think you caused them harm. These names are not beautiful, they are not always happy, they are not always clear. They are rugged, rough, sad, and weird. They will let you in, they will let you see and then release you without a fear. They are not thin and flimsy like the ones Genevieve’s mother knows. They are strong and they cannot be swept aside. These names do not have chaperones but they will teach you many things. How to love with a love that allows love to grow a thick layer of a mountain green over each name ever named so that the meanings are lost. And then golden little mountain girls with dreams wider than the arms that once bound them will run into the night, letting mud cake their toes and the world know that no one can stop them.
So Genevieve dreamed this little dream as she layed in her bed, with her window wide open, whispers lurking around her head. They said hey little mountain girl, with a voice from far away, won’t you come in the forest, don’t listen to what they say. Genevieve wanted to follow the voices so she could see the women with glacial eyes, but this little dream, she could not live it, she needed to understand the world and its lies. So she saved up her birthday money and bought some mountain girl clothes from the store. To school, to dinner, to her mother’s parties, they were all that she ever wore. With her new garb more people jabbed her with names, sloppy, messy, uneat, and too all-over-the-place, but in her mind she whispered “mountain girl” and so that is what she became.
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