small town girls




by La Corneille

Lana buys clothing she never wears: leather miniskirts, hooker boots, shiny tight shirts that show just a little too much cleavage. Lana buys makeup she never wears: bright scarlet lipstick, crimson nail polish.

Sometimes late at night when she can't sleep, she burrows into the back of her closet, pulls out the forbidden clothing, and puts it on. Scrap of black lace underwear, smooth leather skirt sliding over her thighs. No bra, just thin silver lycra. The boots zip up the sides and fit like a second skin. Silent; mustn't wake Nell, mustn't let her know what her perfect cheerleader niece wishes she could be. Lana outlines her eyes darkly and thinks that it makes her look older, mysterious. Careful outline of her lips, filled in perfectly, smooth and raspberry-flavored and glossy. Delicate sweep of pearly eyeshadow over her eyelids.

Lana stands before her mirror with her legs planted firmly apart, hands on hips. She tosses her head and her hair ripples glossy in in the light from her desk lamp. Shampoo ad hair, she thinks, and wishes it were different. Wishes she were different. Quirky, not beautiful. Witty, not sweet. She hates the way the boys at school look at her, like she's some perfect untouchable ice goddess, like they want to worship her. Then there are the ones who scare her, who look at her with hungry eyes like they want to drag her down.

She puts her hands on her hips, tries out the smile she's been practicing for weeks in secret. She's been watching Chloe in class, trying to pinpoint that exact combination of cockiness and vulnerability. There, gone.

Lana wonders how Whitney and Clark and Pete would react if she wore this to school. She wonders if Chloe would look at her differently if she cut her hair and wore scarlet lipstick. Maybe she'll quit the squad tomorrow, or next week. Maybe it's time for Lana to change.

One last look in the mirror. She feels false now, like she's wearing someone else's face. Maybe she'll just keep on the way she's going: Lana Lang, cheerleader, supportive girlfriend, good but not great student.

Then she wipes off her makeup with cold cream and a soft cloth, and folds up her secret clothing and hides it again in the back of the closet. She goes to bed in her lacy nightgown (she remembers when she used to love how it made her feel like a princess), and dreams without remembering.

The next day she wears her nails crimson.