Candor

I woke up with a song about loving yourself stuck in my head and,

still humming it,

cut four gentle lines into my calf.

Without tears, 

without words,

I dressed the tiny wounds,

neosporin, bandaid,

careful not to crinkle the paper too loud 

and wake up my two sleeping roommates

in the beds across from mine,

ignorant bystanders to my acts.

The song is still stuck in my head.

I love myself the best that I can.

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It’s Very Easy to Forget What Little Things Used to Make You Happy

Today the air smelled like pine trees and my head sang “Pulaski at Night”. The medication makes it hard to sleep so I take more medication. When I do I don’t wake up feeling any more rested than I would, but I do have the most satisfying, spine-tingling stretches, the kind cats take after a nap. Those have to come naturally, reverberating out from your core to your entire body, and they haven’t in a long time. 

I don’t know if the medication is working. They say it’s too soon to tell. But today the air smelled like pine trees and my head sang “Pulaski at Night”, and that, at least, is something.

Mary

I think the reason I hang out with boys so much is that I’m just not smart enough to keep up with other girls.

Boys do lie, but they lie in what they don’t tell you – lies of omission – or they lie about things that are obviously untrue: feelings, libido, boasting. And they speak in words. They ask questions, answer questions.

Girls speak in glances that I never quite catch, in harmonious laughter at a joke I don’t get. They don’t ask the questions that mean anything and don’t answer the ones that mean everything. They love deep, difficult conversations, but only when they’re standing at the podium delivering verdicts or wearing objective, unattached safety-orange and directing emotional traffic. It’s harder to get guys to talk about the things that matter, yes, but when they talk they really do. Hidden behind a thin veil of candy floss and amorphous sisterhood, girls can lie to you with a warm smile, a cold stare or honest tears in their eyes. At least, the ones I’ve known can. 

And this is fine. This is a survival mechanism women have picked up after centuries of silenced voices, injustice and fear. Our subtleties and secrecies protect us. And they provide a language, a lingua franca for women from all walks. There is no feeling greater than noticing the tilt of a stranger’s head and sharing for a moment that magical, near-telepathic sameness of thought and instinct. I have felt this a rare few times and they were the only rare, few times I have understood that vague, amorphous Sisterhood. 

And I am not free of subtlety or secrecy. If I was, I’d be dead. I wouldn’t have survived without neglecting to answer the questions that meant everything. 

But as smart as I am to know when I’m being lied to, to feel the hidden intentions behind a smile or a laugh and taste the energy in the air when a question is asked or answered, I’m not smart enough to play along. Like the Mary’s Room Thought Experiment. I have studied color my entire life, I know the science and significance of every shade, but my world is black and white. I’ve learned all the steps to the dance but I was born with two left feet.

Inside, outside. Boys, girls. There’s no difference really. I sit, untouched, pristine. My world is black and white.

Emotional Snapshot

I’m listening to you play piano and mumble to yourself about what key you’re in and does this note go here and why your creative process has to be rushed. When you told me you were here I said I would come up and do homework but now I’m just turning my computer screen away and trying to look busy. I can’t stop smiling.

God, when I’m not around you I rant and rave about how stupid I am to like you. I fret over every text, I pull my hair when you don’t respond but scold myself for jumping at the phone when you do. But when I am here, and you’re there, five feet away tapping at the keys, not even looking at me but just being there, being comfortable enough to talk to yourself in front of me, responding wittily to my agonized groans of how I just can’t write this paper, singing. I can’t stop smiling.

Jolt

I don’t scare easy, except when I do.

I sleep in a rickety bunk bed. It’s beams whine threateningly every time I throw myself onto my mattress – and I do throw myself. I walk the streets of Manhattan at one, two, three in the morning, just to feel the cold air on my face. I moved thirteen hundred miles away from home to a state where I knew no one and no thing without blinking. I watch horror movies for the giggles. I do not scare easy.

Except when I do.

I jump at the sound of slammed doors. If tapped on the shoulder from behind, I give off a terrified, high-pitched squeak. If you suddenly raise your voice at me, I’ll cry.

It’s fear not in the unknown, but the unexpected, the sudden, the violent. Not in the epic, astronomical tectonic changing of the world, but the unpredictable, seismometer-defying earthquake. A warm front into a cold front becomes a tornado. Peace is never broken slowly. It shatters.

– via the Daily Prompt

Chess

Once I finish my turn, I look across the table.

“By the way. You’ve caught on, haven’t you? You know.”

Only a moment before a wordless smirk stretches across his face. He makes his move.

“I didn’t want you to know,” I explain. My eyes dart back to the board. “I only saw the first… glimmer of recognition in your eyes today.”

“That’s because today I stopped hiding that I knew.” He gestures to the board, urging me to counter.

“Since the beginning of March,” I say, advancing my pawn and answering the question he didn’t ask. Silence. His knight clacks an L across the board.

I wait. Still nothing. “Is that it?”

He shrugs.

This next part didn’t happen.

I advance a knight of my own. His black lacquer gleams, carved eyes narrowing as he readies his offense.

“Do you know why I didn’t tell you?”

He would shrug, feigning nonchalance. He would guard his king, bolstered behind rooks and bishops, tower walls and holy dignity.

“Because he’s so close to you. For the second time in a row, I choose someone close to you but not you. And you say you’re over it and that you don’t care but the first time you said that even half-convincingly was a week ago, when it’s been almost half a year since the first time I didn’t choose you. And three months since you chose someone else and I became the one with no one to hold onto.” As the words trickle past my lips, rolling down my chin and dripping onto the board, my knight rushes forward, charging his sterling white opponent. Their swords clash, ringing malice and steel. “Because you hold grudges, even though you’re the one with a happy, loving girlfriend now and swarms of friends buzzing around you like–” The black knight stabs at the air and nicks his enemy’s horse. Blood splatters the battlefield. Enraged, the white knight strikes back and runs my champion through. He slumps lifeless onto the hilt of his opponent’s sword. The victor shoves the corpse away, wordless. Clack, as his body hits the board. I sigh.

“…like moths at a flame. And I’m just another moth.”

But this didn’t happen. We stayed quiet. We finished the game. I don’t remember who won. I only remember that when the boy I chose walked through the door with a smile for both of us, I smiled back, and he did not.

“Why are you smiling?”

Because the toddler I passed on the street was punching the air in perfect time to the A$AP Mob in my headphones.

Because I realized parking garages would be the perfect caves for car-hoarding dragons.

Because the cashier at Starbucks gave me two donuts for the price of one since the first one crumbled while she was heating it up, even though I wouldn’t have minded just eating the crumbly one.

Because I had friends to watch over me while I was napping, and when I woke up they’d brought me tea.

Because those two are so perfect for each other.

Because Tyler is hilarious!

I’m high as fuck, dude.

 

I dunno.

It’s a beautiful day! Why aren’t you?