The Mickey Mantle wannabe labeled MISSING on the milk carton–front tooth cracked away, the space the size of his father’s wedding ring–resembles you and me when we were his age.

It doesn’t get any easier, you know.

At ballet class Emily learns to pirouette around her desires like Mommy does in the kitchen; spin on graceful tiptoes like a damned dradle–an indentured servant with a pricetag dangling between her legs. Emily dances through the pain of pale pink thighs bruised purple-blue by father’s beltstrap friction and when Teacher inquires with a curt note penned on a crooked paper airplane, Mommy scrawls a hasty reply insisting the scars on Emily’s nervy knees are from poor coordination on the scorching hopscotch blacktop of back-to-school September recesses.

In Winter it’s “she fell down an icy staircase.”

And in April she slips in a puddle of rain and motor oil.

“Oh, Emily; be careful,” says the teacher.

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