Yasmeen Khan

Movie Stars

When I was a girl, my mother was always on the phone. I played hide and go seek with the neighborhood boys. I hid in bushes, in cupboards, my limbs contorting around my body like cobwebs. Hours would pass and no one would find me. I was the missing girl plastered on every stop sign down Main Street. I was a specter. A saint. My first field trip was to an art museum. Saint Lucy served her eyes to me on a platter, knife still in her hand. My own lemonade hair glinting back in the blade. I watched Yulia Lipnitskaya skate in the Sochi Olympics. I traced figure eights around my father’s absence, my short-program set to my mother screaming into the landline. I watched movies in my mother’s bedroom, cross-legged on the untouched side of the bed. I wanted to be an actress. I wanted wrists that smelled like watermelons and teeth as white as a nuclear flash. I tried to make absence into a kind of beauty. Cities leveled within seconds. Saint Lucy’s empty sockets. In my dreams, I saw my father in the park, buying Italian ice in a polo as yellow as joy. In my dreams, the phone rang and rang and rang. I liked to think of prayer as a kind of missed call. My first role was as Ophelia in my high school’s production of Hamlet. I stared into the stage lights until flowers bloomed at the edges of my vision. Whiter than Hiroshima. Whiter than snow. I once loved a boy for an entire year without touching him. I once loved a boy who could figure skate, who spun in the air like sugar. I once loved a boy who never picked up my calls. Nowadays, he pays to see my face in movie theaters. I can’t win hide and go seek anymore. Skinny journalists in scaly black dresses open the cupboard and ask me about my childhood. I tell them this: Once, I was watching a movie on my mother’s bed and she muted the TV to call Lucy, my father’s secretary. I heard her voice from her bathroom---you fucking whore, I’m going to claw your eyes out---and watched the women in the movie smile, their silent bodies barreling towards me.

Yasmeen Khan is a teen writer living in Texas. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Texas Book Festival, and the Montgomery County Women's Center. In addition, she has work published or forthcoming in L'Éphémère Review, Bitter Melon Magazine, and Body Without Organs. When not writing, she enjoys eating copious amounts of ice cream and watching the rain.