When I was a little girl, I put fruit under my shirt. Two apples or two peaches, whatever was round. Oranges were the best, though. They stretched thin cotton perfectly and, to everyone’s surprise held themselves in place while I pranced around the house, crying: Look at me!

At twelve, I developed more sophisticated methods. Padded bras; wads of toilet paper I shaped carefully in the morning but flushed before bed. Shoulder pads I snipped from jackets and stuffed under sweaters. I stood before the mirror admiring myself from different angles: front view, left profile, right. Then I dug through my drawers, grabbing cotton balls by the handful, tights and scarves, anything that could be reborn as breasts.

By fifteen, I was shameless. Days I slept late, I’d run for the bus stop, ride miserable to school, an honest woman with A cups. But before my first class, I’d rush to the girls’ room, and when I emerged I was busting out with doubles Ds. That year, I bought countless magazines, pulled out pages carefully to tape to the walls. When no one could see, I caressed paper women with jealous fingers, and wished myself tall and blonde and thin and stacked.

Wishing didn’t change things, so I started planning for the future. I saved lunch money and allowance, began researching implants. In the mean- time, I drank coffee for breakfast, skipped the cafeteria at noon, and shook my head slowly but firmly at dinner. Those years, I kept my money in the space between my mattresses. I liked knowing it was there, right there beneath me, those nights (how many were there?), I lay so hungry and tired, before finally drifting to sleep and dreaming strange breasts that were cantaloupes.

Katherine Lien Chariott has published work in literary magazines including Antietam Review, Columbia, disOrient, Sonora Review and The MacGuffin. She has fiction forthcoming in Hunger Mountainand Bayou. She received her MFA from Cornell University; most recently she was a Schaeffer Fellow in fiction at UNLV. She lives in Shanghai.