By Nina Reyes
The brown boys from your hood will smile at you as their hands stray past your back in the reluctant hug you gave them. You shake them off you and quickly laugh. Excuse it as a shiver. They smile at you, teeth glinting like sharp knives. They lean in and whisper things into your ear that make you laugh as goosebumps spring up all over your arms. You tilt your head to the side and look at them real hard. They may not be the most good looking, but if you never known anything else these are your options. You smile, giving them your number. You hope he texts, or calls. He won’t. He’ll text back after hours. He is merely playing with you. And you know. Oh do you know.
This game that seems to never finish. Of the flirting, the looks. The lies, the deceit. You don’t want to play, but it’s not as if you have a choice in that matter. All the other girls from your hood do it, and all your tias have been bugging you, asking if you have a novio or an amiguito. Some part of you likes the game, likes the small thrill that shoots up your body from the chase. Everybody you know does it. So you might as well join in.
The black boys will regard you at a higher standard than they do the black girls. You don’t think about it for a while. Loving the attention, you kiss them and date them. You never bring one home. You know what your parents will say. And if you do introduce them, you say sorry. You don’t know what your parents will say. They put up a good face while he’s there, and start commenting once the door closes behind him. He loves everything about you, mentions how your hair is beautiful. He’ll smile at you. If he’s from the hood, he’s probably cheating on you. You smile tightly. You know this game too well. Yet you’re going to keep playing.
The white boys will call you “exotic.” As if they never seen a brown face before. They say they like “spicy” girls like you. Girls full of fire. They say mami, and a bunch of other things in Spanish, butchering your mother’s tongue. They make jokes about those who look like you, and in the next minute whisper in your ear how different you are from “those people.” Your people. You shrug it away and laugh. You are told you hit jackpot. They mention how lucky you are and you respond with an “I know.” He meets your parents. They love him and his whiteness. Poking fun at him because of how lost he is in the conversation. He laughs and clutches your hand. Your mind eventually wanders to the ugly thought of when he will leave you for another girl. Or even worse. When he will leave you for a white girl.
This flash fiction was inspired by Junot Díaz’s short story from Drown, “How to Date a Brown Girl (A Black Girl, a White Girl, or a Halfie).“