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at fifteen i drew a map of my high school
and stuck gold stars on all the girl’s bathrooms -
this is the best one for crying , for hiding , for skipping class because you are afraid of the wrath of a teacher whose class you skip too often .
i used to sit in the stalls and draw hearts on the scars on my knuckles .
at fifteen i was afraid to raise my hand , to break the spell of invisibility .
i thought nobody could see me
and i liked it that way .
but today , on the edge of eighteen , feeling golden
i went to the bathroom that used to be the best room for hiding.
i went to wash my hands and check my makeup ,
not to run from any demons except the fullness of a lit class lecture .
and i expected to be alone ,
but i wasn’t .
she was on her knees in a stall ,
high school sophomore , sobbing and coughing and gagging .
when i came in she started gasping
and scrambled to her feet .
here she was , hiding like i had for so many years
and i was banging on the stall door .
because i have always been the unfunny tall one ,
unable to connect or understand or relate .
i have always felt like an alien , gasping words in a foreign tongue
before an audience of unforgiving strangers .
it isn’t funny ; it’s scary .
and when you are tired , kneeling on the tile floor of your high school bathroom ,
vomiting lunch and flushing ,
you understand more than anybody
that hell is not in the afterlife :
it is a place we visit on earth .
so i was banging on the stall door ,
praying she was a stranger .
she said , “ leave .”
and i said , “ god , i can’t .
hell is a high school bathroom .
will you talk to me .”
she was fifteen , blonde with scars on her knuckles and makeup stains on her cheeks .
i said , “ listen to me .”
i said , “ you are brave simply for existing .”
and she cried , and she cried , and she cried .
she said , “ i’m only fifteen and i’m sorry .
i didn’t mean to end up here , with a stranger staring me down .
i didn’t mean to be so ***** and worthless ,
but i don’t think i can do this anymore .”
i gave her a tissue.
she said , “ i’m failing math and english class and i have a D in science and my friends can’t stand me , and lunch is awful alone ; no one ever invites me to parties , and boys think i’m fat and i’m ugly and i’m lonely , god , i’m so lonely and no one can save me and nothing’s worth saving .”
when i was fifteen i used to practice writing suicide notes in my diary .
it was never serious ,
it was just an idea to play with when i felt unwanted :
letters from the deepest cracks of high-school society .
god , it was like looking into a mirror .
i saw the blush in her cheeks , the brightness behind her eyes , and the fading scars on her thighs .
high school sophomore , you know you will not be this girl forever .
beyond the unfinished homework and the test scores is an entire world worth seeing .
she said , “ i am in love with a boy and he doesn’t love me .”
i said , “ it’s the same for everybody .”
“ i don’t want to live , but i don’t want to die .
i guess i don’t want to do anything .”
she was fifteen and as wild as a poisonous berry .
i told her i could hear god in her raw throat and see infinity in her eyes .
there isn’t much you can say to a girl who doesn’t want to die ,
but at fifteen i didn’t feel like doing anything either .
i told her , “ a year from now you will see things clearer than you ever have before .
a year from that you will be back in the bathroom , looking at the floor and seeing ghosts .
there isn’t a lot you feel like doing , but right now you don’t need to .
i feel happy for you .
soon you will be lifting yourself from the floor of the bathroom , and walking swiftly in the direction of your dreams .
at the first sign of change you will feel your insides exploding .
it is beautiful ; there is so much to learn about living ,
so much to learn about humans and strangers and the feelings that keep us connected .
what is happening now is not worth forgetting .”
and she said “ i’m scared because i skipped class for the first time two months ago , and now i skip an average of eight classes a week . last month i smoked **** for the first time and now i feel guilty .
my best friend hates me . i don’t know what to do because i keep crushing delicate things with my fists . there is a scar the shape of a cross on my wrist, but last week I burned my bible .”
i smiled and looked in the mirror .
i told her ,
“ at fifteen i was just as lost as you are . i’m still lost , for the most part . i still want things i don’t need and feel emotions too deeply , but i’m learning .
and i learned a lot more by burning on the floors of bathrooms than by sitting in classes .
keep your face forward . trust everyone . you are living in the world like a wildflower , and you will be just as beautiful .
god , high school sophomore , you will find everything you are looking for .
just remember nothing matters
as much as you think .”
'Twas midnight in the schoolroom
And every desk was shut
When suddenly from the alphabet
Was heard a loud "Tut-Tut!"

Said A to B, "I don't like C;
His manners are a lack.
For all I ever see of C
Is a semi-circular back!"

"I disagree," said D to B,
"I've never found C so.
From where I stand he seems to be
An uncompleted O."

C was vexed, "I'm much perplexed,
You criticise my shape.
I'm made like that, to help spell Cat
And Cow and Cool and Cape."

"He's right" said E; said F, "Whoopee!"
Said G, "'Ip, 'Ip, 'ooray!"
"You're dropping me," roared H to G.
"Don't do it please I pray."

"Out of my way," LL said to K.
"I'll make poor I look ILL."
To stop this stunt J stood in front,
And presto! ILL was JILL.

"U know," said V, "that W
Is twice the age of me.
For as a Roman V is five
I'm half as young as he."

X and Y yawned sleepily,
"Look at the time!" they said.
"Let's all get off to beddy byes."
They did, then "Z-z-z."
"You're crazy and no one likes you." I don't know how to respond. I am ten and have never heard such hurtful words before. She smirks as I walk away in tears, silent in my own disbelief. At dinner that night, my mother says she is jealous of me because I am such a smart, kind girl. Now I am confused. Am I an outcast that is hated by all, or the poster child for perfection?

She is insecure
Envy green with jealousy
But she still hurts me

"Wow. It's really sad that you have to tattle to the principal instead of handling things yourself." I don't know how to respond. I am fourteen and am now embarrassed for asking my mom to talk to the school, and to make sure I didn't share any classes with my bully. I delete the post from my Facebook wall and lock myself in my room. At dinner that night, my mother says I am mature for contacting the school rather than fighting with my attacker. But I am confused. How can I stand up for myself if other people are solving my problems for me?

I cannot escape
Her words make me feel alone
What did I do wrong?

"Guess who." I know exactly how to respond. I am seventeen and I have had enough. My bully moved away two years ago; I thought she had moved on. Apparently, distance is not a problem for her. One sentence is all she will get from me: "I feel bad for you." The phone company has her number minutes later and I am proud of myself. At dinner that night, I don't tell my mother anything, because there's nothing to tell. There is no more confusion; I know that she is not the only one of her kind, but I also know that I am strong enough to handle anyone whose insecurites knock them down a few levels in the realm of maturity. I only wish the clarity had come sooner.

To my old neighbor:
Thank you for tormenting me.
You have made me strong.
Today I will make a difference
A clean slate
A new start

I'll clear those cobwebs
From my mind
Dust those scars
Around my heart

I'll switch on my new thoughts
Wear my smile
Shining bright

Try my best
To help others
In the hope
I do things right

Taking this opportunity
Putting all the past behind
My~mind ~my heart ~

With he )

Who said )

("All who seek shall find")
i don't know how else
to describe
the feeling
when i permit my thoughts
to dwell on you

you are an
utter mystery and terror
through my mind

how much
is written on my face?
in my voice?
i fear the extent
of my foolishness
has yet to be revealed

and i feel like
i could follow you
  up a mountain
without uttering a word of distress
   though my body
be racked with exhaustion
   and terror of failure
       loomed great above me
who would complain
to be in step
with a creature like you?

i don't know
what this is
i'm afraid i know
what this is

and i cannot tell
if my feet are firm upon the ground

all i know
is perpetual summer
in your arms

— The End —