“Plastic Hearts” by Chella Courington

At fifteen Anne bought her first action figure—Wonder Woman. When she saw her on television in her blue starry shorts, legs rising out of red boots, steel cuffs, and gold tiara, Anne fell hard. No girl could match the Amazonian Princess Diana who fought for justice and deflected any evil power. She had everything Anne wanted—looks, personality, strength, smarts, courage, and empathy. At night she’d clear her dresser and stand Diana in the center across from her bed, dim the light, and pull the sheets to her chin, her warm hands beneath. Then Anne imagined her Princess tearing off the costume and offering her pale, unmarked body to the girl under white covers. Just the two of them until the sun cut through the drapes.

Anne couldn’t resist any of the Wonder Women—Diana with arms crossed, bracelets waiting for a bolt of lightning; Diana ready to throw her razor-sharp tiara like a boomerang; Diana pulling back the arrow with her unbreakable bow, a gift from Hera.  Anne’s favorite Wonder Woman was twirling her lasso of truth into the darkness. Anne envisioned the golden rope taking her on a joy trip faster and more dangerous than any carnival ride. A roller coaster up and down, turning into cavernous tunnels until she woke to a room of Wonder Women stacked three deep and six feet high. 

One morning she left them to themselves in search of a woman whose body was marked by time. Anne wanted to feel their skin against hers, their heart on her breastbone, their hands touching her face. The years that followed were full of lovely women over cabernet and lattes, in conference rooms and kitchens, at concerts and Polo matches. They laughed and cried together, attended marriages and funerals, even spent months in the same house. But they never swore fidelity to each other, never stopped looking through the side window for possibility. And Anne often thought the fault hers. Longing for someone wonderful. 

Years ago she discarded the action figures, hoping the new space would welcome a woman not defined by plastic and wigs. Yet she was alone, trudging through each day when she passed a new action figure in the window of Timeless Toys—Rey. A fearless warrior covered in coarse cotton and wielding a lightsaber. Her young face, flawless as Wonder Woman’s. 

Anne knew Rey was a doll, a fantasy that filled lonely imaginations. But she was tired of being by herself, following one lover after another to a dead end. She wanted something stable, something always there. And Rey was just the size for the center of her dresser. Just the two of them until the sun cut through the drapes. 

Chella Courington (she/her) is a writer/teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in numerous anthologies and journals including DMQ Review, The Los Angeles Review, and New World Writing. Nominated for Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets, Courington was raised in the Appalachian south and lives in California.

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