Rubber bracelets adorn her wrists like she just strolled out of a punk concert (like she just strolled out of middle school) , she picks the scabs of playground ostracism till they look as though they were ripped into her self esteem yesterday.
In her mind, they were.
I find her burying her face between her knees during an ice breaker activity.
The quadruple piercings on one her ear portend an imagined mosh pit, but she digs her own as she cradles herself against the wall.
Her arms are bowling alley bumpers, she throws them up around her head to protect them from the familiar miasma that pervades every inch of her whenever she is in a group of more than three.
She let me in her room last night. She invited me to share in solitude w/ a good book. I brought a tattered poetry anthology. She said I could sit next to her in her bed; I took a seat at the head, she sat coiled in the far back corner against the wall, legs tucked in against her body.
She was an injured rabbit, her burrow of blankets and books only gave her so much shelter.
She eats alone at breakfast amongst the group.
She starves herself. Her blood fills her stomach as the ulcers feed her imploding hunger that half glasses of chocolate milk cannot
She was dared to eat five gummy bears, and I swear by my own scars that she was about to bawl, eyelids pulled back by the judgmental demons she sees every day in the mirror, they chastise her for the chocolate milk, but her desperate hunger wins this battle. Barely.
Her headphones are like sunglasses shielding her eyes from meeting gazes with another.
I’m sorry Sarah, no matter how hard you push your spine against the bricks you will not phase through them, you are stuck with us here for five weeks my dear, and it is only day one.
I’m sorry that all I know of you is that your name is Sarah and that your last name begins with an R, I think. I haven’t had the guts to look back at the group text message our counselors sent out to check your last name because that would be closer to stalking than I feel comfortable going.
I’m sorry that I notice how your wrists and ears contradict the smile you stitch across your face just before you hide it behind your hair, and that I notice the absolute terror in your eyes as you stare at the mass of your peers before you.
I’m sorry that noticing makes me believe that I know you at all.
I’m sorry for how they all gawk at how adorable you are when more than three people give you their attention. I can only imagine how flush your cheeks become.
But I would think that you stopped blushing years ago. The permanent outflow of blood from your aorta to your face coagulated long ago, leaving your face with a perpetual hue of dull purple. Your body doesn’t know what to do with all the excess embarrassment.
I think you compensate by blood letting.
The only bracelet you wear that suits you is of the Deathly Hallows. A tiny silver stencil on a blue piece of twine. It’s blue like the four A.M. sky.
I think it gives you strength.
Sarah, your arms are not an invisibility cloak. While your hair may hide your face and your bracelets your scars, the world will see you.
It’s ironic that the very things you use to protect yourself bear your self-loathing like a family crest.
Class time. She darts to the back corner desk like a painted swordtail to a coral shoal, she curses her opaque scarlet hue, she thinks it ugly but the reef can still see her beauty behind the jagged outcroppings of her fragmented self-esteem. It shines through and refracts off the water, viscous like teenage judgment, and we see the spectrum of her beauty.
She’s a cognitive science major. She looks for a road map through her own thoughts in the curriculum, turn left at her fear of eating in front of others, bear right at her boyfriend of four months. She tries to make herself two dimensional at the lunch table, arms strapped to her sides like a straight jacket.
She jokingly told me to stop whistling about dreamt dreams and the French Revolution, she said it would make her cry. So I stopped.
I’ve never read Les Miserables, but I’ve sung enough about dreamt dreams to know that Life can fill your lungs like a zeppelin and can resonate through your mouth like Notre Dame just before Sunday mass if you only let it.
Let Life build a cathedral inside of you Sarah. The bricks are yours for the taking, and we are all standing here beside you with mortar at the ready.