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In the enclosed area in the back, a lady with bright-orange hair approached us. “Don’t vorry,” she said. “Vee vill find deh perfect bra to fit you.” My mother whispered into her ear. She nodded.
“Of course,” she said. “I vill bring a good minee-miser. A good minee-miser vill squish it down, till you can’t even see it. Vait. I vill bring it.”
I entered the tiny dressing room. The woman dangled a bra over the rod that held up the curtain between us. It looked like a pair of mushroom caps hanging from straps.
“Try dis,’” she said. “Tell me ven you is ready.”
Ven I is ready? I stared at the long mirror. I could see the lumps plainly, right beneath my undershirt, alien things attached like leeches.
I yanked at the bra, trying to connect the clasps in the back.
The lady called again: “You is ready?”
She opened the curtain, stepping quickly inside. She gasped.
“No!” she explained. “You put bra under deh undershirt! Not on deh top! You hef to take off all deh clo’ding!” And, pulling off the undershirt, she pushed my growing chest things into the minee-miser like an impatient teacher shaping play dough, until it fit just right.
“Like dis!” she announced. “Now is snug — not too loose, not too tight.”
She looked at me, satisfied.
I began to cry. I told my mother I wanted to go home — now. My mother inspected the bras closely. She chose two, saying they were the best minee-misers. They would make my chest disappear completely.
When I came home I hid my bras in the deepest corner of my closet. I refused to put them on for two weeks. I also refused to speak with Tziri. One would think she’d understand after all that she’d done, but my mother insisted that I was the ridiculous one, and that it was not Tziri’s fault.