maria cita.

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i was a determined child.
inside busy shopping centers my mother would use me to remember where we parked the car,
or make our way back the way we came in
or to find my grandmother who’s fallen a step behind.

my favourite place was the National Bookstore. it was the biggest bookstore in the city.
i loved the colourful spines lined up neatly on the shelves
the quiet, carpeted aisles. the fact that
everyone, upon entry, just shut
the fuck up.

even then, at 8 or 9, my mother would say –
paulina. you have 20 minutes and 20 dollars. spend both wisely.
and saunter off to read Vogue magazines, or look at herself
in the mirror.

i would run to the Young Adult section (i was done with Picture Books at that stage),
grab the thickest books with the most vibrant covers
line them up on the beige, carpet floor
weigh one against the other in my hands, assess thickness
font sizes, the expressions on the characters’ faces on the front cover.

then i would run to mum with two in my hands, knees dimpled with carpet marks –
pull her face down so we could lock eyes –
woman. there’s a Buy One Get The Second for Half Price, ma
so even though i’m over budget, i am saving YOU
– pause –
money in the future.

AND! also,
i’ve given you my left over 6 minutes to decide.

she would snort and laugh,
red lipstick and teeth
tuck my hair behind my ear and buy me both.
we would catwalk to 1001 Ice Cream, get ourselves obscenely large scoops of everything,

buy shiny patent shoes, sing Like A Virgin
giggle mirthlessly in the car
when we drove past the school
that i was meant to be in that day.

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