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  • Amanda Hayes

AUTOFICTION | rules for girls

rules for girls

1. Don’t drink the punch, don’t drink it, could be anything in it—moonshine, roofies, rape waiting to happen. I knew a girl once, she was careless—two cups, strange room, aching belly, plan b. Don’t drink the punch. The point is not to plummet: it’s to bend this flock of bodies, part it like the sweetest sea.

2. Drink the punch, or pretend to, tilt the glass assumingly, take sips of air. When he hands you a drink, say thank you, flash a smile, lose the glass in the next room. No one has to know what you put in your body—all they know is what you show them. Learn three things and you are golden: the soft smile, the sloped shoulder, the whisper away.

3. Drink the punch, drink it till you feel like floating, drink it till you feel the booze rush to your brain. Slip your fear into folds of sugar; dissolve like a pill in hot water. There will always be someone whose hand skims too boldly, someone whose gaze lingers too long. Pretend you are at the movies, by the subway, on the bus. Or just drink the punch. You have found your rabbithole and you might as well use it; you have been falling down it since you learned how to stand.


A brief catalogue of muses

“Her eyes were shining brighter than the morning star; and she began to speak gently and softly, with angelic voice.”[1]

“Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh.”[2]

“Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”[3]

“I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating…if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.”[4]

“So what’s wrong if there happens to be one guy in the world who enjoys trying to understand you?”[5]

[1]Dante, Inferno

[2]James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

[3]F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

[4]John Greene, Looking for Alaska

[5]Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood


“Just wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’/Plannin’ and dreamin’ his kiss is the start/That won’t get you into his heart/So if you’re thinkin’ how great true love is/All you gotta do is/Hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him/Yeah, just do it and after you do/You will be his”

–Dusty Springfield, “Wishin’ and Hopin’”


The first time

he scoops you up in his arms,

you are aware of his hard chest,

his limbs which shroud you

like thick branches.

I could fold you up

in the palm of my hand, he says,

my doll, my princess, my pearl.

You notice his ridged back,

how easily he cradles your hips,

and you feel, for the first time,



rules for girls

4. For safety, always walk in groups of two, or three, or five. The proper rate of exchange is one boy to two girls, one to three if you are walking in the city, one to four if it is nighttime. Add one point if he is 6’2” or taller; subtract one if your breasts are size D or greater. Subtract one if you listen to music and forget the lyrics. Subtract one if you sometimes wake up and wonder why you are here.

5. If you are walking alone, make sure to carry protection. Pepper spray is optimal; you can also try ridged jewelry or abject apathy. Carry your weapon in your hand at all times; do not keep it on a keychain or buried in your purse. Do not carry a purse. Do not wear heels: try soft-soled shoes that mask your footsteps and fold you up to one third your size. Say you have a boyfriend, a birth defect, an STD. If all else fails, the world always recognizes a woman’s scream.


Retrieved from Quora


“Anthropological Research on the Female Fantasy,” or Why I am Watching Nicholas Sparks Movies at 1 in the Morning

Their meeting is a fluke: a stalled car, a dollar short at the diner. She is rich and roundfaced and holds the world like a found nickel. He is tall and mysterious and has suffered more than she can possibly imagine.

In Nicholas Sparks movies, the tragedies are always unequivocal: a deadbeat father, a car crash, leukemia. The couple never fights about dirty dishes, or why he doesn’t shave his beard, or why she comes home after midnight with lipstick smudged on her teeth.

The climax of the movie is, of course, sex. She perches on the bed in sleek underwear; he has ropy back muscles and slides into her like water. She emerges the next day in a silky smoking jacket; he makes breakfast. He does not twist her bra clasp while they watch previews at the movie theater. He does not finger her hurriedly in the pickup truck after the county fair. She does not stare vacantly as he lies on top of her. She does not flip through magazines at Planned Parenthood and wait for her name to be called.

When tragedy strikes, there is a bullet in someone’s brain, a cleft in someone’s heart. They spend the rest of their days wistfully worshipping “what ifs.” They wouldn’t change a thing—not the first moment, not the French kiss, not the fight in her father’s home.

The movie ends, leaving me with county fair nightmares and a thistled yearning for love.


Davy from school doesn’t believe that Georgia is a girl. I tell Davy of course Georgia is a girl because Georgia’s name is Georgia and she plays with me and Kaitlyn at recess and she wears butterfly clips in her hair. Davy argues that Georgia has short hair and wears zip-off pants and always wants to be the green Power Ranger (not the pink one). Davy calls Georgia George and follows us around during recess so Kaitlyn and I tell Ms. Carson, the recess monitor. Ms. Carson also has short hair but Davy does not think she is a boy. Davy says we are tattling and Ms. Carson tells Davy to sit on the wall for ten minutes but Georgia does not say anything. She looks down at her feet and picks at her butterfly clips.


If you are a nineteen-year-old college student, should you be afraid when a twelve-year-old boy asks you to “suck his dick”?


rules for girls

6. If you are at a party and your friend has had too much to drink, sit her down and get her a glass of water. Make sure someone you trust attends her at all times. If she is vomiting, hold back her hair. If she is unconscious, turn her on her side. Keep an eye out for your other girlfriends to make sure they are also safe. When she is stiff enough to stumble, walk her home.

7. If you are at a party and your friend has had too much to drink and she is with a boy you don’t know, coax her away, even if it’s the cute one she’s been staring at in Econ class, even if she’s mad at you for three days after. Sit her down and get her a glass of water, explain there is a lost kitten, a burst pipe, a friend in danger. Keep an eye out for your other girlfriends to make sure they are also safe; watch the party disintegrate into looped passages and hissing snakes. Steer her into the doorway, walk her home.

8. If you are at a party and your friend has had too much to drink and you lose track of her while she is with a boy you don’t know, let your mind race quietly as you stand amidst a wheel of slurred bodies. Even if it’s probably okay, even if it’s the cute Econ boy who has the sweetest smile, feel the river in your stomach rise and fall. Trace the bruise on your shoulder, keep an eye out for your other girlfriends to make sure they are also safe. Pray that one of them has seen her and taken her home.


Remember, rules are given out of love. I knew a girl once who

I knew a girl once

I knew a girl once

I knew a girl

They always know a girl, never a woman. It makes me wonder, how does one becomes a woman?

in every story, there is an element of girlish folly

Are women the ones who carry keys between their knuckles and park their cars right next to streetlamps?

she laughed too loudly

she couldn’t watch her drink

Or is every story a rite of passage?

She is a burnt birthmark

She is a mountain weathered down


"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;/I lift my lids and all is born again./(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

—Sylvia Plath, “Mad Girl’s Love Song”


In the end, do you fold like a crocus, do you cleave like a black mountain? You may practice the diaphanous, cradle your breasts like children, but here you stand rigid as a gravestone, crystallized like snow.

Spend your whole life crawling out of the ocean, starch you bones with salt water—they are still yours. All you can do is watch your niece sleeping, whisper a lovesong, pick up a pen.


Amanda Hayes has published poems in Yemassee Journal and Hobart Online. Born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, she now lives in the Bay Area, where she is pursuing a B.A. in English and Creative Writing at Stanford University. When not writing poems or teaching high school students, she enjoys looking at birds.

photo: faungg

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