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Published on April 3, 2023

Conversation By Tom Brenner (Photograph by Salene Herrera)

Three young girls sat in the park together, their bathing suits on and their eyes narrowed from the warm shine of the sun.

They had been told they talked too much, so they saved their thoughts for when they saw each other. They jumped between topics sharing messy yet filtered thoughts, sometimes catching themselves talking over one another.

They each had so much to say, but even through their desperate attempts to be heard disguised as casual chats, they could only reveal so much.

The girl in the orange hat told her friends that she hated men for the hundredth time; she laughed as she said it. She desperately hoped that they would ask her why. They only nodded and agreed, glancing knowingly at one another.

The girl in the green baseball hat said she was not hungry when her redhead friend pulled out her snacks, clenching her stomach as it begged to be fed. She lied and said she’d eaten earlier. The others looked down.

The red headed girl looked at her friends as she ate and asked them if they were ready to go soon. She fought the urge to cry when they said yes. They exchanged sad smiles.

Tied together by brutal mistreatment from the world and the voices that demanded their silence, the girls talked only to each other. They talked until there was nothing left to say but the painful truth they each shared but could not let escape their mouths, and then they left the park and went back to the quiet.