Help Me, Rhonda Rhonda and I, cold-shouldered by the other kids when we were ten, shared nothing but our loneliness. She, overweight and plain, and I, too bookish and withdrawn back then, found awkward union in distress. Invited to play The Barbie Game at home with her, I grudgingly consented. Board games left me bored, and this game's object was to be queen of the prom, which I deplored. I had no friends, though, so I came. To my delight, she had a stash of superhero comics, treats my own mom had refused to buy, considering them wasteful trash. I gobbled them like stolen sweets, and let poor Rhonda fret and sigh. And when I deigned to play her game, it drove me mad. Was this dull plight my future: shopping, dating, dances? No options but the chance to claim stock boyfriends for routine romances? Barbie was my kryptonite. By summer's end, I shunned her door. We never spoke again. I knew she'd shown me what I was: a user. Shamefaced, I retreated to my fortress of solitude once more: no superhero, just a loser.
Susan McLean, author of The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife, is a retired English professor from Southwest Minnesota State University. Her third book of poetry, Daylight Losing Time, will be published by Able Muse Press in 2023.