Chella Courington ~ Plastic Hearts

At fif­teen Anne bought her first action figure—Wonder Woman. When she saw her on tele­vi­sion in her blue star­ry shorts, legs ris­ing out of red boots, steel cuffs, and gold tiara, Anne fell hard. No girl could match the Amazonian Princess Diana who fought for jus­tice and deflect­ed any evil pow­er. She had every­thing Anne wanted—looks, per­son­al­i­ty, strength, smarts, courage, and empa­thy. At night she’d clear her dress­er and stand Diana in the cen­ter across from her bed, dim the light, and pull the sheets to her chin, her warm hands beneath. Then Anne imag­ined her Princess tear­ing off the cos­tume and offer­ing her pale, unmarked body to the girl under white cov­ers. Just the two of them until the sun cut through the drapes.

Anne couldn’t resist any of the Wonder Women—Diana with arms crossed, bracelets wait­ing for a bolt of light­ning; Diana ready to throw her razor-sharp tiara like a boomerang; Diana pulling back the arrow with her unbreak­able bow, a gift from Hera.  Anne’s favorite Wonder Woman was twirling her las­so of truth into the dark­ness. Anne envi­sioned the gold­en rope tak­ing her on a joy trip faster and more dan­ger­ous than any car­ni­val ride. A roller coast­er up and down, turn­ing into cav­ernous tun­nels until she woke to a room of Wonder Women stacked three deep and six feet high.

One morn­ing she left them to them­selves in search of a woman whose body was marked by time. Anne want­ed to feel their skin against hers, their heart on her breast­bone, their hands touch­ing her face. The years that fol­lowed were full of love­ly women over caber­net and lattes, in con­fer­ence rooms and kitchens, at con­certs and Polo match­es. They laughed and cried togeth­er, attend­ed mar­riages and funer­als, even spent months in the same house. But they nev­er swore fideli­ty to each oth­er, nev­er stopped look­ing through the side win­dow for pos­si­bil­i­ty. And Anne often thought the fault hers. Longing for some­one wonderful.

Years ago she dis­card­ed the action fig­ures, hop­ing the new space would wel­come a woman not defined by plas­tic and wigs. Yet she was alone, trudg­ing through each day when she passed a new action fig­ure in the win­dow of Timeless Toys—Rey. A fear­less war­rior cov­ered in coarse cot­ton and wield­ing a lightsaber. Her young face, flaw­less as Wonder Woman’s.

Anne knew Rey was a doll, a fan­ta­sy that filled lone­ly imag­i­na­tions. But she was tired of being by her­self, fol­low­ing one lover after anoth­er to a dead end. She want­ed some­thing sta­ble, some­thing always there. And Rey was just the size for the cen­ter of her dress­er. Just the two of them until the sun cut through the drapes.


With a Ph.D. in British and American lit­er­a­ture and an MFA in Poetry, Chella Courington is a writer and teacher who’s pub­lished more than one-hun­dred lit­tle sto­ries and more than 140 poems in a range of jour­nals and antholo­gies includ­ing SmokeLong Quarterly, The Collagist, Ghost Parachute, and X‑R-A‑Y Magazine. Her poet­ry has been nom­i­nat­ed on sev­er­al occa­sions for Best of the Net and Best New Poets along with being award­ed indi­vid­ual prizes, the most recent of which is the Moon Prize for her poem “Eurydice.” Her fic­tion also has received indi­vid­ual prizes as well as being nom­i­nat­ed for Best of the Net. She has three chap­books of fic­tion and six of poet­ry pub­lished by nine dif­fer­ent pub­lish­ers. Her novel­la-in-flash, Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage (Breaking Rules Publishing, 2020) is fea­tured at Vancouver Flash Fiction. A 2020 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington lives in California.