I don’t remember living without this doubt. Confidence was suspicious, like the shadows of dark streets that I never dared wander. Certainty was the friend I watched others get to know, wondering if she would happen to notice me by accident. I don’t remember living without walls around my bedroom and thoughts.
The snickering blade draws a fine, sharp smile across the wrinkled surface of my thumb, and the bread I pursued with all my guile turns real, running flesh and blood. Numb with pain, I watch and wait as dark wells in and out.
Yesterday was an ordinary day. I don’t mean that I spent it marching through the mundane, looking for glimpses of something new to steer me off my road of routine. I mean that I never lifted my head to check. I don’t mean that the rhythm of my steps was in ticking time with my cadent pulse. I mean that some moments I couldn’t feel my heart beating at all.
At dusk the old world lives again as faeries fill the open air. The Small Folk come, the world reclaim; they journey from I know not where.
I have to give a speech this term—and, frankly, I’m afraid. It’s not my form of fun, and now I’m speaking for a grade. I have to give a speech this term and share my thoughts aloud. They say it’s just like writing, but the difference is a crowd.
I see a child stand at the valley entrance. Alone. Forlorn. Blood on his feet. Tears on his cheeks. The shadows draw him in. I can’t…I can’t reach him; pull him back. I can’t even speak.
The bird quickly rapped against the window, hard, the azure pane, that false pane. At least, that’s what others told me—I wasn’t there.
I straighten my back, and shoulder blades take on a new meaning. Tension stretches its hands around my neck and claws my skin at the same time—like twisted thorns clinging to the seams in my shirt. I laugh sometimes
that I can’t tell if the creaking is from my bed or my back, but while people are responding with “Work on better posture” or “You’re too young to feel like this,” I’m nodding my head with the strength of my last coffee.
To the girl I knew six Octobers ago, it hurts to see the way your sweater matches your eyes, because I know they turn gray sometimes like the storm cloud you zip up over your shoulders. You haven’t found the right language yet, so you speak in knotted strings and layered sleeves, but that’s okay. I wish I could tell you that you are heard, but there’s a steadiness in my voice you wouldn’t recognize.
Do you remember it? The day I first said I’m weak—it took a week to say it all; I misspeak about the thoughts in my mind, and I had to rewind when the wheels would squeak. I’m not derailed, just a bit misaligned. I know my head should unwind, but I’m afraid of critique.