I Just Want to Be a One-Star Hotel

My brother tells me I have dead doll eyes and complains
that Wi-Fi is bad in Taksim the whole time. The bathrooms
here look good although the shower door swings open
of its own accord. He pounds the wrong key card
into the slot, over and over again. There is nobody
else to photograph but me, in the dark, him telling me to look
alive. In Taksim, I am not attractive enough to be hit on
but I am young enough to be unsafe. Men who are not
my family speak to me in eight different languages. I am told
of faking language for respect. The Wi-Fi keeps cutting out
and I constantly lose my family. Everyone tries to connect
to my hotspot. We take timed selfies at every spot we need
a remembrance for. Mama dresses me up. My brother tells
me dead eyes dead eyes dead eyes over and over again. Grandfather
controls my rice intake and Papa makes sure to remind me
that I am a girl. Our key cards all deactivate. At night Taksim
fills with smoke and stumbling couples, arms slung around
exposed necks. My brother takes photographs of me in between
coughs. I fake laughter and my eyes crinkle inwards, unseen. Father
lets us in later. Facing our bathroom mirror, I close my eyes.

Bianca Layog is a junior at Interlochen Arts Academy.

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