I always prayed I’d dream of Little Women,
the book that bore me through childhood.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—
I’d be the fifth sister, the desperate one
who flirted and drank champagne.

Just once, they did come to me in a dream:
but they traipsed about their Civil War winter
as if I weren’t there,
as if I hadn’t given them my best days and nights
learning by heart their joys, their woes,
sacrificing real friendships for their company. 

They ignored me like everyone else.

So, I grew more flamboyant,
smoking behind the school at twelve,
failing classes with wicked panache,
attempting suicide,
wearing capes, blue-tinted glasses,
holding up McDonald’s with a lighter that looked like a gun,
becoming an atheist.

Still, no one saw.

Despite their indifference,
each night I’d return to the March family,
where Father was at war,
and the girls brought Christmas dinner to the poor. 

When they sang hymns around the piano,
I would sit in the corner,
the ghost of Christmas future,
sharpening my stiletto and hoping for the best.