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Pretty

By Wendy C. Ortiz

Essay

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This is a pretty essay.

In the beginning, the word was chula. Que chula was cooed and gasped at me. My mother and grandmother fawned over me with these words, as though they were astonished by me every time they said it.

I went to kindergarten believing I was a princess, enough to quarrel with Debbie Holly. She, too, believed she was a princess. Together we believed we were, each of us, pretty. But there could only be one princess, the prettiest one of all.

It’s been a slow encroachment, subtle, like the onset of age or the shot that divides the casual user from confirmed addict. Perhaps it has been ticking inside me, like some DNA time-bomb waiting to release its gas, infecting me in increments until finally, I awake one day to realize: I have become a cranky old fart.