I am not a boy.
I have straight, dark hair.
I am four. My best friend is beautiful. And I am not.
She makes me sit in a chair.
She pulls my hair and twists it around tiny plastic things.
I like to play with the little sheets of tissue paper.
Sit still, she says.
Here, you can hand these to me, one at a time.
I feel important. I am helping her.
I don’t like the cold dripping down my neck.
I don’t like the smell.
It’s hard for me to breathe.
But she looks determined and certain. This will make you beautiful, she says.
The plastic things are sticking into my head.
I want to scratch but she says no.
Just a little longer and you will be beautiful.
I want to be beautiful. Then she will love me.
She pulls a chair to the sink and pushes my head under the faucet.
The water is warm and feels so good I want to stay there forever.
But I have to be neutralized first.
I am wet and cold and the skin of my head feels like a blister.
But she squirts the neutralizer onto my head.
We’re almost done, she says.
The sun is shining. I can see the lawn through the glass door.
My friend comes to the door. She is beautiful.
But I cannot go outside.
I am not beautiful yet.