Eye of the tiger.
Marisol sits on her stoop, eyes slightly crossed, observing the pink bubble inflating from her lips. Two fingers delicately squeeze an end, puncturing the globe that deflates into a long sticky cord. She stretches it away from her teeth. Coiling the gum around her finger, she brings it into her mouth and scrapes it clean, and begins to chew again. With a long acrylic nail, she moves a strand of hair away from her face.
From somewhere, Javi and his two punk friends appear at the bottom of the stairs.
“I know where my finger’s been.”
Javi scrunches his nose in feigned disgust. “What you doing right now?”
“What’s it look like?”
“A lot of nothing. How about you and me go talk somewhere?”
One of Javi’s friends snorts, inviting shade from Javi. It doesn’t stop the boy, he just turns around and laughs harder.
“Man why you gotta be like that? I just wanna talk to you.”
Javi has a thin mustache that Marisol detests, and every time he speaks it’s the only thing she can focus on. It feeds her repulsion. He has a muscular body that he believes obliges him to his pick of female, and he shows it off casually with fitted white tanks and low slung jeans. Javi forgets that he and Marisol have known each other since childhood, and that she’s aware of how the muscularity up top tapers into chicken legs below. She doesn’t like the term vato, but a vato he is.
“I got nothing to talk about.”
The other boy starts laughing now as well, and the pair of cronies back away in a semi show of respect. Javi glares at them, then whips his head back to Marisol. A shiny piece of hair saturated with product falls across his eye.
“Man, fuck you. Fuckin’ bitch. You ain’t shit.”
Marisol stands up and calmly brushes off the back of her dress. She flips her hair away from her shoulders, taking care it doesn’t catch on her necklace. With a couple of steps she is off her stoop and standing next to Javi.
“Oh what? What you gonna do? Fucking puta. I just wanted to ta—“
There is electricity in Marisol’s body that no one can feel but her; the rippling of a current that moves from her head, through her chest, to her arms, down to her fingers, where they curl in and clench. Javi notices the sneer on Marisol’s lip a second before her knuckles make contact with his jaw. He staggers back. A small drop of blood falls from his face and stains the concrete.
“Didn’t your mami ever teach you not to call people names?”
H&M dress; BDG sports bra; Zara boots; Handmade necklaces.