Seventeen in ‘84

By Kathy Curto


I'm in Deer Hollow Park, the playground where little kids don’t play anymore and, according to my mother, troublemakers go.  “When Doves Cry” is on my new Walkman and I’m spooked because I’ve already played it seven times over and over and am now pressing Play for the eighth time which makes me think that I might be going crazy.  

It’s 1984 and I’m seventeen. 

I’m sitting on a black rubber swing, swaying.  It’s just before dark.  No one else is here in the park and I pray to the Gods of the Confused Hungry Teenage Souls that someone is watching me.  

How is it that I want to be all alone, but, at the same time looked at, glanced over and watched?  I don't know how that happens but I know I want both.

Prince's smooth voice moves through me. Then up, in, out and around.  

I regret sharpening, burning and applying the brown eyeliner to both the inside and outside of my eyelids this morning when I put on my makeup.  I should've used black.

There's a huge difference between the brown and black and even though I wasn't ready for the black this morning, I'm ready now.

Kathy Curto teaches writing at The Writing Institute/Sarah Lawrence College and Montclair State University where she is a 2015-16 Engaged Teaching Fellow. Her work has been published in the anthology, Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now, and in publications including Drift, Talking Writing, Junk, The Inquisitive Eater, The Asbury Park Press, Italian Americana, VIA-Voices in Italian Americana and Lumina. Kathy lives in Cold Spring, New York with her husband and their four children. For more information visit FB page or website: