My head starts to pound. My throat burns. My knuckles are bruised from it. The clear lines run in between by fingers and down my hands to my elbows. My nose gets clogged and later runny. Tears run down my face but I’m not crying. My eyes get red and sometimes puffy. I feel like it’s in my nose, my lungs. But I feel better after. Lighter. My voice is deeper after, though. More raspy too. I cough up blood. Blood and spit and sometimes mucus. But it’s worth it, I tell myself. I wash my arms and my face and look up to see myself in the mirror. This isn’t the same person from last year. The person who set up those perfect lights outside. My thoughts are interrupted by the pain in my head getting worse.
There’s yelling coming from inside the house. I stand at the door of the backyard under the lights. The pretty fairy lights that aren’t so pretty anymore, according to everyone who knew what it looked like before. The same lights that now scratch me with their shattered bulbs. I wipe my eyes and head inside.
A Flower That Bloomed Too Soon.
My friend, she wants to go back to elementary school. Not because of the schoolwork or the playground, but because everyone is treated the same. She is older than the girls her age. They say they want to be like her. I don’t think they’ve learned the things she has. The things she’s learned from the stares and comments and treatment. She knows so much more than them. Things that little girls shouldn’t know. Those girls don’t understand. They shouldn’t be envious of it. She wants it to stop. She wanted it to stop. She needed it to stop.
But it doesn’t stop. He didn’t stop.
The Epitome of Perfection
She is one of the only people I look up to. And for good reason. The ideal student, the obedient daughter, the caring friend, the hardworking athlete. The perfect person. How does she do it? Ambitious, honest, plainspoken, fearless, reasonable to those she cares about. To those that are worth caring about. Kind to those who deserve kindness. Respectful to those who deserve respect.
One day she tells me about her family, friends, her home. She tells me how this city is not hers. These people are not her people. This wasn’t supposed to be her school. These weren’t supposed to be her friends. Her home was taken away from her. Everything she knew was taken away from her.
So she keeps a facade. Pretends it’s okay. Tries to maintain composure. Desperately. For herself or for others? No matter. She does it anyway. That’s what makes her perfect.
There are times when everything is surreal. And the very room I sleep in is unfamiliar. But I feel like I’m floating. Like I’m living in a dream. A nightmare? I’m unsure. My vision is shaky. My head is throbbing. And the stripes appear. Bright and red, lining my arms and legs. It’s perfect and parallel, like candy canes during Christmas. I start feeling cold. And it’s all thanks to this pretty pink thing next to my bed. It’ll always be there for me. No matter who has come and gone. No matter who will come and go, it has always been there, and it always will be. It’s the most routine thing in my life. The pretty pink, then bright red, and then the fade to black. And I wake up and my day begins.
The days you feel empty. Tell me why it is. Tell me the struggle of working and working and getting nothing done. Tell me the struggle of talking and talking and not being heard. Tell me the struggle of caring and caring and not being cared for. Tell me the struggle of existing and existing and feeling like you
don’t shouldn’t exist. Tell me the struggles of the things that are not meant to be.
It’s hard to find the right words to explain; I get it. So tell me what it’s like. Tell me it’s like the feeling of your lungs restricting as you hold your breath for too long in the pool. Tell me it’s like the feeling of drifting away. As if your body is anchored down and you’re being pulled away by the unforgiving currents of the sea. Tell me it’s like the end of your show, when the curtains are pulled shut, and it fades to black. Except there’s no applause. Because only good shows deserve applause. Your show was no comedy, nor tragedy, nor fairy tale. It had barely begun. The audience just sits and stares and thinks, “What a waste of time.” Your show. Over, just like that. As quick as a snap of the fingers.
Tell me it’s like that for you too.