Girls don’t play sports, the boy saysto Reina as he crumples uphis sandwich tin-foil into a firm,silver ball. Except for Olivia.But Olivia is American.Reina whips her neck to glareat me, I am guarding the wicket,ready to bruise whatever the boy throwsbefore she can whisper dyke into the windbut still, she slips it into my ear, prances backto the shifty-eyed, hairless girls in the cornerof the yard, their ring fingers dawned in thejeweled promise of their kept bodies.
The only thing I brought from Americaare four scabs and a twenty-dollar gift cardfor international phone calls. My fatherwalks me to school every day,until he finally buys a 1989 Nissan station wagonthat smells like wet towels and the apple cinnamontree that flutters under the rearview mirror.
Reina is upset that I am Americanand not rich. These two details disrupt everythingReina has ever been made to believe in the churchof MTV, in which she learnedthat along with a new American best friend,she deserves a new Americanbest friend’s mom—suburban queen—and a new American best friend’s brotherwho will take her to second base in our basement,but unfortunately for Reina,we don’t have a basement, we live in the Sunset Motelwhere I collect snails and eat chicken and ketchupsandwiches for dinner and this, of course,makes me a lesbian.
When Reina tells the teacher that I am staringat her in the locker room,I walk to Long Circular Mall and buy a gold,plastic rosary from the quarter machine(all of the rich girls wear rosaries).I pull my hair back into a taught bun,and polish my calves with my mother’s lotion.
Reina says I can sit with her at lunchas long as I never play cricket again.I tell her it was just a phase, in the waythat the motel was a phase, the car and the smelland the hair on my body—all a phase—but the thing about pretending to be richis you can sculpt the language of money,lie about the helicopter, the vacations, your maid—the way you call her only by her first name—but I know, no matter how many times I speakof Mary, my imaginary helper, I can’t spit her outlike I would if she were a real womanwho dressed me every morning. I can’tbe Reina, who hates the training brasshe is forced to wear, scowls at the way they flattenher chest while eating hand-rolled dolmas at lunch.I haven’t played cricket in three weeks,instead I take a bite of my mayonnaise sandwichand complain about Mary’s cooking while the boyssweat at the other end of the yard.
The blacktop shines and Reina says I am luckythat the boys let me play, because the pitcheris the cutest guy in school so she asks if I will teach herthe game and I tell her I don’t really know the rules,Americans don’t play cricket. I say,I just know to hit and runand I know this is the right answerbecause she repeats it under her breath,
American’s don’t play cricket,American’s don’t play cricket,I don’t play cricketbecause my best friend is American,better than you, better than your stupid game.