The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
We Hate You, Ewa Jurzwiak
By Laura Eppinger
We hate you, Ewa Jurzwiak.
We hate you when your English isn’t good, we know your parents came from a farm outside Krakow, but your nose is straight up in the air. Upturned, Ewa, you judge us. If we’re Polish like you but black-haired, brown-eyed. If we’re Dominicana dark. If we’re Cubana light. You seek us out when it’s time to find a seat on the bus, name that song on Hot 97, get help with English vocabulary flash cards, hold the mirror while you part your white-blonde hair. But then in the classroom, you turn.
You find our flaws, Ewa, and you recite them like the prayers in home room. A wine-stain, a mole, a stork bite. A pimple, a fuzzy upper lip. Flat nose, big nose, bulky braces. You hone in and fire. After we helped you to understand gregarious, grovel, debutante! Malign, Ewa, remember that one?
We hate you because your boyfriend is Jan Brozek, two years older. Oh Johnny, sweet Johnny, all our teachers say. They loved him when he was in 10th grade, so they loooooove you by extension. He’s dark for a Slav, you say, but at least he isn’t Spanish. (You’re at your worst with the white girls who date Latin boys, though every house in your neighborhood speaks Spanish, and we all know it.)
You’re cruel to Johnny, too! He walks in the room, smoldering cedar eyes and dimples, heading straight toward you. You ignore him. He is just like a puppy. Hungry. But you’re mad at him today, every day. He’ll have to apologize just to get you to look him in the eye.
I sit behind you in history, Ewa, a class Johnny visits almost every day. You never take notes, but you fill a notebook: plans for your wedding. Mr. Cwiek nods in approval. Johnny, great guy, good for you two! We are 15, at the start of the 21st century. But this is the best a girl can do in a broke old urban Catholic school. Marry well, get that family started soon.
Our teachers love you, Ewa, but you’ve isolated every other girl in school. You know, we plot against you.
What if we let a Bic pen snap and bleed and bleed, then threw the ink across the room? Onto the bridal magazine—or better, your sunny yellow hair? But no one finds the nerve.
We bat our eyes at Johnny in the halls. But he’s too loyal, his eyes see only you. (This makes us love him more.)
Some of us dream that Johnny is swayed, not by a shortened skirt or a perfect set of teeth, but by an irresistible bit of conversation. That a Belarusian prince is landed by a dazzling, sparkling mind.
Maybe not this prince, not this Johnny. (He’s too wrapped up in atoning for today, on how he’ll get you to forgive him this time.) But the smart girls learn what smart girls learn: to wait, and wait, and wait.
#Unreal #Fiction #WeHateYouEwaJurzwiak
Visit our shop and subscribe. Sponsor us. Submit and become a contributor. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.