Poi Dog is 2nd Place Winner in the WOW! Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest
I can hear Tutu in the kitchen rattling plates, divvying up slices of papaya and the musubi—one for Tutu and one for Nani, one for Tutu and one for Nani. It’s her way of getting me out of bed and ready for school. But I don’t want to go. All the kids in class give me stink eye. Ask me, what are you?
I’m hiding under the crazy quilt Tutu made with her own two hands when she was the same age as me. She stands in the doorway and folds her arms across the mountain of her chest. I tell her I can’t go to school because I don’t have anything to wear, burrowing deeper. Underneath the cover, I run my hand along the tiny, patient stitches of her quilt. I still haven’t told her the bad things they say about me. Soon, Tutu’s breadfruit body is sitting on the bed next to me. Kids at school call me Poi Dog, I tell her, they bark when I walk by. I push my head against the softness of her thigh, smell bacon on her housedress, and close my eyes.
Tutu praises the day I was born. Says I’m made by a great Creator in the sky. She says I’ve got royal blood in my veins. And that I come from a long line of royal women like Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of Sheba and the Crown Mother in London, England. Tutu says it’s actually a badge of honor to be called a Poi Dog. Poi Dog’s got the best trait of all the dogs
combined. So they’re smarter and stronger. I love the way my tutu loves me. Blessing my crazy orange hair, my upturned eyes, my skin the color of tree bark. Her love is like the moon at night.
Tutu shakes my shoulder. I open my eyes and wake up. No dilly dally, she says. Get dressed. And I obey.
It’s one of those cool, wet mornings and the big coconut palm out back bends over in the wind. I roll myself up in tutu’s quilt and walk over to the closet with its sliding mirrored door that makes my bedroom look as big as a cathedral.
Then, just for a moment, because I don’t want to dilly dally, I stand in front of the mirror and let tutu’s crazy quilt drape over my shoulders. The heavy padded fabric falls to the floor, a magnificent train cascading down my back. My fear fades like a cloud as I twirl in a circle, liking what I see. I straighten my shoulders and then I understand. It’s not just Tutu’s quilt I’m wearing, but a dress meant for royal women like Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of Sheba and the Crown Mother in London, England.
Read Linda’s interview about Poi Dog here