A girl walks down a dirt road, balancing a pail of river water on her head. A girl sells small paper cups of lemonade on the sidewalk in front of her step-father’s house. A girl leads her family’s sheep down a mountainside of green. A girl sits with a small black chalkboard on her lap, practicing her letters. A girl eats a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich alone in the lunchroom. A girl walks swiftly and silently to her secret school.
A girl sings GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN BOYS on the jungle gym and pronounces publicly that GIRLS RULE by writing it all over the cover of her notebook. She plays on a basketball team. She is the only girl. She wears a tee-shirt, ponytail, mesh shorts and black high-top sneakers. One day, while scrimmaging another team of boys, she is singled out by a red head on the other team. He has to cover her. He doesn’t like that very much and so to prevent her from doing anything he’d be embarrassed to let happen, he pushes and fouls until the coaches blow their whistles and the boy is subbed out. As he walks to the sideline, the girl throws the basketball and hits the back of his head. Humiliating him. I am this girl.
A girl buys a bouquet of wild flowers at a crowded street market. A girl dances, spinning her red dress until the morning after her brother’s wedding. A girl is raped and murdered in the woods beside her elementary school. A girl has her first kiss outside the local ice cream stand on a rainy afternoon in July. A girl is swept through her window and into the warm, hard waves of a sudden tsunami. A girl sits in the courtroom while a gentle judge asks her to choose between her father and her mother. A girl is married off to an old rich man who smiles at her strangely. A girl giggles with her friends at a small salon on the corner of Childhood and Womanhood.
Every girl everywhere is given different shoes to wear and every girl everywhere must learn how to walk.