MG Roberts


The girl was sent to live with her grandparents. They owned a restaurant. They lived in a small town. It was nowhere. The girl became a performer, learned to take orders with a smile.

“Sit up straight, tall, chin up, chest high, be somebody. Do you want to grow up to be that kind of woman? Well, I won’t let you,” her nana would say, lighting another cigarette.

Her finger an index, “That kind of woman…”

The kind of woman, who drinks alone,
The kind of woman who chases married men,
The kind of woman no man wants to marry,
The kind of woman who drinks beer through a straw.

Nana’s list went on, jutting her chin toward two women in the corner booth, “The worst kind…”.

They paused their laughter to stare back. Nana lit another cigarette.

“Be somebody…,” Or something, the girl managed to hear. There was static.


The girl was reckless. At least that’s what they said. Those boys drove past her house every night, slowing to a pause as they approached the four way stop. “Everyone knows…” is what her nana had said, or something or another about those boys or her.

It didn’t matter.

She let those boys touch her. She liked it. Riding in their cars, making it in backseats, and cheap motels. Sometimes the boys brought friends, grabbing at her with two, four, and eight hands. That girl with those boys. There was talk. She filtered sound. She was electric.


…honest,” she thought she heard her nana say the day she discovered her bedroom window was nailed shut.

“It will…”

The girl took to the kitchen window, folding herself through the narrow opening proved harder than she’d first guessed. Lose ten pounds, she thought as her belly scraped against tarred paper like steel wool against nana’s stainless counters.


Sometimes those boys spoke to her after. She didn’t care. There were other boys.

It was static.
The talk.
“Such a sweet girl…”

Those animals circled nana’s house. Every night she climbed out windows into backseats. Those boys waited with blind fingers. There were rumors.

“That kind of girl…” her nana said.
She heard something about cow’s milk.

There was talk. They called her a toilet. It didn’t matter. Their voices lacked range.

She was boundless.

“Be…,” her nana said, or something. The ringing in her ears no longer subtle—no longer background.

“Somebody?” she tried to answer. “Something?”
“…used to be such a nice…,”

The talk was a constant hum like a headache. By the end of summer, it was barely noticeable, like the contracting fluorescent lights in the restaurant where she worked. Like the town, it was nowhere.

MG Roberts teaches writing in the San Francisco Bay area. She is a Kundiman Fellow, Kelsey Street Press member, and MFA graduate of New College of California. Her work has appeared in the Stanford Journal of Asian American Studies, Bombay Gin, Web Conjunctions, Shampoo and elsewhere. Her book of poetry is forthcoming from Durga Press in January 2014.