This is a story about a woman named Paula. That’s not even her real name, and my instinct was to call her “girl” because that’s how I remember her: a sturdy, pale girl with greasy, straight-cut bangs and glasses and grey teeth.
Paula and I were never friends, even though we went to middle school together. She was poor (never mind that I, too, was poor), and she didn’t wear the right clothes (never mind that I didn’t, either), and if she wasn’t stupid, it was somehow implied that she was stupid, or that her future was less bright than the rest of our classmates’. It was never talked about, but it was there; it was apparent in the way that everyone ignored her and in the way that she shuffled sullenly from class to class.