2 years ago
ErinJoyCarden
in English · 1,480 Views
likes 4clips 2comments 2
Sixteen
Wake up at seven in the morning and try not to think about how badly you wish you could sleep for a million years; or just not exist; or just not be aware of anything happening in the world around you. Make yourself a cup of coffee downstairs in the kitchen; while it cools, turn on the shower; force your limbs one by one into the freezing cold water and try not to cringe; hope that today will be better than yesterday; think of your computer screen saver, the pink fluffy cloud that says, ”Stay Positive.” Try not to call yourself pathetic. Strip your sheets before you leave the house and hide the laundry basket from your mother; dump a cup of Tide detergent on the dry clothes before you leave the house; it’ll drown out the smell of the sex you had last night. Hide his socks. Close the window he crawled out of this morning and stop thinking about it; stop thinking about what he must be thinking; stop thinking about what she must be thinking if she knew- what people would say; stop thinking about your endless daydreams; stop thinking about a time that never existed. Walk out the door and listen to Avril Lavigne on your Walkman on your way to school; lip synch to “Complicated” and try to get all the lyrics right; try not to call yourself pathetic. Make yourself forget about last night and about being upset about him; you know he won’t matter a year from now. You’ll write about it in your diary and toss it to the side and tell yourself that you won’t read it again until you’re in your early thirties and starting a family. Buy a pack of gum at the corner deli before class; you need it before your Intro to American History test because otherwise you’ll chew the insides of your cheek too hard and then the inside of your mouth will sting when you drink lemonade. Make sure it’s sweet mint gum and not peppermint gum because peppermint always gives you a headache. Don’t buy cigarettes. Grab a bag of potato chips, you’re stomach will be growling in a few hours and there’s nothing more embarrassing than a silent moment in class when you’re stomach decides to gurgle and everyone looks at you; get the reduced fat and don’t give into the frown that creeps over your face when you think about how much you’ll miss the saltiness of the original Lays; your little sister’s Bat Mitzvah is next week and you don’t want Aunt Hilda to call you “chunky again;” plan to say “fuck you” to her if she opens her mouth; take that back; imagine instead, the horror on her face if you did ever decide to grow the balls to say it; smile to yourself. Enter the school building; try not to picture yourself walking into prison; walk down the squeaky hallway in a straight line and try not to fall on your face in your new black-heeled boots. Your mother told you that you walked funny in them but you didn’t listen; you wanted something in your life to make you feel lady like; not like the zombie you’d become walking around in sweatpants and a parka. Try not to call yourself pathetic. Try not to blush when you walk past him; and definitely don’t look him in the eye. You want him to look at you first; he must look at you first otherwise he’ll think you’re too eager and you’ll chase him away like the other five times you were close to anyone worth knowing. Try not to furiously scratch your legs under your tights in class; people will look at you funny and think you have fleas or bed bugs or something gross like that. It doesn’t matter that the acrylic tights you bought at Target last weekend are giving you a rash; this is what it takes to be a lady. You should have listened to your mother and looked for “100% cotton.” Don’t think about that song while you’re in class; don’t think of how you felt when you heard that song; don’t think about how strong he felt against you while you were slow dancing to that song; don’t think about the meaning of that song; don’t think about the meaning behind that song; don’t think about the meaning behind him; don’t think about the meaning behind us. Convince yourself that it was enough to have that moment; convince yourself that you need nothing more. Ignore the girl who used to be your best friend; try not to look at her when she enters the English room; try not to look at him when he walks in after her. Try not to think about a time that never existed; try not to think about a time that did; try and feel okay about it; try not to think about the nights you laughed so hard your stomachs were sore. Ignore her when she mutters “slut” under her breath as she takes a seat in the chair behind you; try not to jump out of your seat to slap her across the face; think instead, what it would feel like to set her hair on fire so that she would be bald and she too, would feel naked. Hold back your tears and try to make sense of the grammar lesson. Try not to call yourself pathetic. Throw your report card in the trash the second you get home; rip it up into tiny pieces and watch it float to the bottom; try not to think about what the grades actually mean; tell yourself that Mr. Robertson is a fuckwad who doesn’t know anything about who you are in reality or your potential as a student. Try and convince yourself that you have any potential at all. Try and respond when your mother asks you how your day was; tell her it was good, that you learned a lot and that you have a lot of homework to get started on; try to sound like you mean what you say for once in your life. Hide your half-eaten veggie burger in your napkin at dinner; start counting up from one when your mother starts “raising her voice” at your father, telling him to send in the check for the tenth grade academic school year already. Sit on your hands so you don’t pick up your spoon and scoop another spoonful of mashed potatoes into that awful hole in your face. Ignore the hunger pains. Try not to think about it Don’t eat the last cookie in the cookie jar; you’ll feel guilty about it and hate yourself later; you’ll spend twenty minutes in front of the mirror examining the pouch at the bottom of your stomach that refuses to disappear despite the fact that you’ve only been eating grapes and reduced-fat Lays for the past week. Squeeze and pull at your stomach; watch the red marks on your skin appear, and fade-you can almost see finger prints if you squeeze hard enough. Put on your headphones and throw yourself onto your bed; think about what it would feel like to be important; think about what it would feel like to be important to him. Try not to miss a time that never existed; try not to miss a time that did; try not to miss her; remember that she called you a slut today. Try to convince yourself that she has no reason to be mad. Check your phone for any new text-messages; don’t be disappointed if there are none; tell yourself that you’re not disappointed when you feel the pit in your stomach and try not to think about belonging; try not to think about whether he belongs to you; try not to think about whether you belong to him; try not to think about how you and that bitch who called you a slut will never belong like you did before; don’t think about belonging; think about how it’s a bad word. Remind yourself of how you can’t own a human being; remind yourself of how you can’t lose what you don’t own. Promise yourself that you won’t forget what it feels like to be sixteen when you’re seventeen; try not to think about it; try not to think about the future; try not to think about getting older at all. Pull the covers over your head and turn off the light. Listen to the sound of the rain falling down hard on the windowpane; close your eyes; stop worrying so that your heart will stop pounding and you won’t get that sinking feeling in your chest every time you start to drift to sleep.
ErinJoyCarden clipped in 1 collections
2 comments
What a story! Love how I can relate to the voice's thoughts and feel what she is going through with her situation.
2 years ago·Reply
I really love this piece! Great job, taking us through each moment.
2 years ago·Reply