by the water in Sihanoukville

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women carry their business on their shoulders.

some carry mountains of prawns on their heads

while the sun heats up the sand

children swim naked or in clothes

children sell bracelets

women sell manicures and waxing

 

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Her name was Anne. She made me pinky promise with her that I would buy from her. She sat next to me when she spotted me, and we talked for a while. She said she was from around town, and that my skin was beautiful because it’s white.

Many women just like Anne came around and sat next to me, in an attempt to convince to get waxed or get a manicure. They all asked to touch my skin. They said it was good because it’s white.

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Then, Lucy and her friend approached me. They looked young,  no older than eleven to me–even though they said they were fifteen. He was the talker, although he never told me his name but I asked several times. He asked me where I was from and started a conversation. Lucy was beautiful. Her eyes deep brown and her skin and long hair were bright. She said she loved my white skin, that she wished she had white skin like mine. I told her she was beautiful and she said “no. I wish I had white skin like yours”. I told her she was beautiful as many chances as I could, because she truly was.

They convinced me to buy bracelets from them. I gave them the money and they ran off as quickly as they came. I yelled for Lucy, because I wanted to take her picture, but all I saw was the trail of black hair she left behind with her shadow.

And all I was left with: too many bracelets and the hole in my stomach that shows up when I can’t stomach the reality of this world.

 

 

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