Pretta had a weak heart and everyone who knew her, knew. They may not have wanted her to know they knew, but she knew just the same. They may not have been old enough to understand what was said to still know. Still they knew. And she knew they knew, whether by speaking or gesturing or glancing away or rolling the eyes or tongues back or around in a circle or simply sucking on a thumb. She could relate to sucking. Her exposure sucked.
She learned to carry herself with grace. Before she even cared to, wanted to, needed to and so did. Her mother taught her with books on crown chakra balanced. Her neck became strong. Long.
She was seven years old, Pretta. Seven when she was able to walk through a small group of girls (not friends she knew but friends to them was she to be. and do.) also seven or so, most of whom she had to suffer in pre school times. Seven years old. She held her head and her dresses high, and left them all with only a breeze trailing her strong jawline she inherited from her father. She would use unsparingly from this moment on.
She would be so generous. She would not spare them her pride. Inherited. She would not spare them it! For her weakness required compensation. Overcompensation to balance. A simple concept she knew, from the books on her crown chakra to ballet she watched the older girls and prayed to some day do, too. Having descended from a murmur descended from a fever: aka Scarlet. Red hood got her namesake by course of coursing blood and blue, turned out to air. Met oxygen with a blush. Stirred the beating heart some.
Scarlet. Scarlet sometimes coursing so as to make the tissue flush. Often a cure could come, some said, if you sat bedside and waited out the wailing winds. If you did not rush. Rouge red against the pale blues tripping out in an arc the moist flower bed. Makes you scream, terrified. Strikes the weak of constitution dead. Or so was said. No one wanted scarlet fever. That was how effective she knew exhibition of this trait to be. The small group of kids became smaller below her above average height, as she passed through unfazed. No less than two of the girls left the experience, eyes glazed.
Pretta… she was going to make it. They also knew this, those who poked her and would not let her touch them back for fear of contagion. She would outlive them all! You did not dare suggest otherwise. Everyone in this majority w.a.s.p country understood. The weak. The earth. The meek. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ya Ya Ya… Her odds had low denominators, La La Ya! She learned her math by it, her perfect true condition. The one thing that made her stand out unique. Like the way she felt the day she rode her banana seat bike first through the mission. Approaching # one wholesomeness, they wanted her to think. Organic and good for the spirit. Now tilt back, nurse said, and drink.
Young Pretta sprouted tall. To help her get above it. A tall girl, many remarked, a lady still a girl. She would never know why they stopped. Why they stared. What they said. If they cared. Sometimes she really minded. Most of the times she let them see the back of her head, her long dark straight hair.
Her peers they could not relate to her on many levels. She seemed older sometimes, but not all of the time. She got tougher every year, for sure. But all knew somehow the fears she carried, though some did not know they knew. Their was no lesson in her. She was not a subject to be taught. Still most and especially the boys thirsted to learn from her or learn her or learn to be like her, the girls.
She would not give anything to be any of them. Not one. Though she looked up to quite a few. Even looked up to younger girls she knew. She did not know why she was strong, or why everyone thought her so. But she let her hair grow long like a girl. And she arm wrestled until she was strong like a boy. And the only thing she must pretend and put on, was that she was somehow tough, boy-tough.
She could and did pretend. She did not have to like it. She did not have to even be it, no. Not a fake. Atleast not pretend to the end. Where the boy would spit, she would hesitate. Then stop. Where the boys would curse, she would not. Where a boy would scream and yell and go manic? She would perform clear and conscious restraint. On a dime. Skirts falling ahead of her young calves and back again. Swing, swung. Swing, swung.
The boys eyes went wide like saucers, then telescoped small when she moved again.
They could not understand how she moved like that? could not predict when? She was a sweet sweet anomaly, in the class of twenty twenty-two. A shame she would not graduate, Pretta, at least not through and through. She had to do things differently, or wanted to, they say.
She had a weak heart, Pretta. Everyone who knew her, knew.