Like a Girl: Chapter five

We spent the next hour or so eating and talking with Drexl in a room full of round tables with bleached white tablecloths. Glittering chandeliers hung over every table, the floor was covered in a decorated carpet with eccentric designs that didn’t look American, and the silverware was all golden. But the most amazing part of this room was the food. The girls brought out things on platters that I’d never seen before and you had to teach me their names on the spot. Things like steak, rotisserie chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, and lasagna. My tastebuds couldn’t handle it and I was sure I would pass out from excitement soon.
You and Drexl spent half your time watching me and laughing and the other half discussing things I wasn’t as interested in. This food was unbelievable.
“Your daughter must be tired,” Drexl said at one point. “The women can bring her to the ladies quarters and tend to her needs. I’ll show you where the men stay.”
I looked up and wiped my face with a napkin. “What did you say?”
“Do you wanna go with the girls, honey?” you asked me. “They’ll show you around.”
I looked at Daisy and two other girls standing behind Drexl, smiling back at me with gleaming white teeth.
“With them?” I asked, louder than I’d intended. “Of course!”
“You go have fun,” you said, patting my shoulder. “We’ll meet up after.”
Daisy walked over to me and held her hand out. “Come. We have a lot to show you.”
And before I could even realize that I hadn’t finished my meal, she was pulling me away from you and walking me out the dining hall. But I didn’t resist. There was something about her—something familiar and inviting. I could never know for sure, but she felt like the “big sisters” you had told me about. I wanted to follow her. I wanted to know more about her and about myself and about all these other people who lived here who looked like me, but were somehow just a little different. And she’d be the one to teach me.
She brought me to a room that was just as elaborately designed as the dining hall and I stared at everything with my jaw hanging open. There was a bed with bright red covers and rows of fluffy white pillows stacked at the head. There was a storage unit up against the wall that they called a dresser with a mirror built into it. And on this dresser were brushes of different sizes and little colored boxes with different colored powders inside. It all looked really fascinating and cool, but something felt off about all this.
“This is where you’ll stay,” Daisy told me. “This is your room.”
I grimaced at her in confusion. “Why is it so clean?”
Daisy made a face at me and so did the other girls, like I’d just asked them why a bowstring bends.
“My father always told me that real girls get their hands dirty,” I explained.
Daisy and the other girls exchanged a look then she turned back to me and smiled. “There’s a bathroom behind that door. You can freshen up and we’ll talk more when you come out.” She handed me a towel and some new clothes and ushered me to the bathroom.
I took a shower, more confused by the girls’ reactions than by the unnecessary cleanliness of this room. I decided against wearing the new clothes and slipped back into my old ones. And when I came out, Daisy sat me down at the edge of the bed as the other girls gathered around us.
“There’s something you need to know, Alex,” she said.
I shifted on the bed so I could face her. Whatever she was about to say sounded like it was going to be really important and I wanted to see her eyes when she said it. Little did I know that no matter how I sat, it wouldn’t prepare me fore what she said next.
“Your father has been lying to you.”

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