Like a Girl: Chapter two

The next morning, we gathered our supplies: our bows and arrows, pistols and ammunition, daggers, and enough food to last us a day. But you said the colony was in Manhattan, which was apparently a six hour walk from where we were. So with our supplies set and breakfast in our stomachs, we headed south.
I’d never left our borough before and was curious to see what the other boroughs were like. You had told me there were five of them total, but that after the attack, you wouldn’t be surprised if there were only two left.
We walked for about an hour, passing the time by singing songs you had taught me from when you were young: 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, This Land is Our Land, and The Green Grass Grows All Around.
Then, at one point, we came across a string of stores, all of their windows smashed and doors hanging off their hinges. But one of them stood out to me. Somehow the windows were still intact and inside I could see figures standing with brightly colored clothes. And they looked like me.
“Dad!” I sprinted ahead and burst into the store, excited to see other humans for the first time. But when I got inside, I saw that these weren’t real people. Their skin was unnaturally white, they had no eyes, and they weren’t moving.
“They’re mannequins,” you said behind me.
I squinted at the mannequin in front of me, feeling a storm of emotions stirring inside of me. There was confusion, frustration, sadness, but most of all anger.
And you could see it brewing. “Let it out.”
I threw my hands down at my sides and released a scream that shook the store.
And my mind went back to a memory from eight years ago. I was ten years old and I saw
you standing over me as I looked down at my fallen arrow. I’d been trying to shoot it the way you had taught me, but it kept slipping off the bowstring and falling to the ground. And this was the twentieth time I’d dropped it so I was infuriated.
“You’re angry,” you said above me.
“Yes,” I pouted.
“What do we do when we’re angry?”
I huffed as I listened. “We scream.”
“Why do we scream?”
“Because my voice is what heals me,” I recited.
“And why does your voice heal you?”
“Because pain must released, not buried.”
You nodded. “So scream.”
“It’s okay,” I heard you say, bringing me back to the present. “We’ll find them. I promise.”
I nodded, but kept staring at the mannequin in front of me. There was something strange about her that confused me. She looked like me, but was still different. Her hair was long like a girl’s, like yours and mine. But her arms were slim and lanky with no muscle definition whatsoever. Not like the lean cuts carved into mine. What kind of girl was this? Whoever had designed her clearly didn’t know what girls looked like.

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