I just saw a grandfather bury his granddaughters in the sand. The mother and grandmother stood over them, the grandmother holding a camera, pointing towards them, requesting “Say, Lake Michigan!” Which they did, the two girls, about 6 and 8, heads poking out of the earth like little polyps. The grandmother and mother continued on a conversation, hazily, flittingly fixing their eyes onto the sand dunes several feet away, behind the action at their feet. The grandfather kept burying his granddaughters, using a bucket to spill the soft, moist material over their bodies and slowly smooth it out with his hand. He did this twice, even though their bodies were well-hidden already. The third time his motions quickened, and more deliberately he filled the bucket to the top and turned it upside down over the first granddaughter’s chest, twisting it, pulling it away, leaving behind a cylindrical pillar. He did it again, depositing another pillar next to it, and then two more for the second granddaughter, purposefully creating breasts of sand on their chests. He had a frisky half-smile on his face. The sun was out and warm. The small waves of the lake delicately lapped the shore behind them. The granddaughters realized what he had done and squealed “Ew!”. The mother and grandmother looked down and laughed while the grandfather knocked over the pillars and integrated them into the rest of the sand with a grand, sweeping motion. It was simultaneously harmless and disturbing. It is one thing to recognize who is woman when they say they are woman. It is another thing to brand them before they even know. So young, to assert yourself on their bodies. To ascribe more sex than is necessary and when it is unnecessary. It’s in playfulness; it may be a human instinct. It is also how we learn to see each other; how older men see younger women and girls. As playthings. As students to be taught in the ways of masculine function and desire and perception. It is like a lion playing with his cubs - biting the back of their necks to simulate the wounds that may be inflicted as they encounter a new predator. Preparation for the world.
Alyssa Sorresso is a creative nonfiction writer who loves telling stories out loud. She has performed at 2nd Story, StoryClub, the Moth and other live lit events around Chicago. Her writing was most recently published in Creative Nonfiction and online at OhioEdit. Alyssa also created a singular, badass piece of performance art called ScreamCoach, that she has performed in festivals at home and in the UK. You can follow her on twitter at tactless_grace and visit her blog at tactlessgrace.com.