I was a child of stitched lips and melting heart. Adults spent a lot of time morphing their words into tweezers, attempting to pry whispered dreams from the back of my throat. I passed my elementary days practicing crooked smiles and convincing myself death could never touch me. But still my nights were racked with darkness and I wondered if perhaps I was death. The idea fascinated me.
When I was nine years old, the harsh realities of the world hit me with quite a literal punch to the face. It was with that pound that all the cells in my body went on strike, vowing never to trust blonde-haired, doe-eyed boys again. I retreated into a world of daydreams where I was its queen, or perhaps I called myself king because what does gender really matter at the age of nine anyways. I had an invisible crown that sat proudly on the top of my head; it was the one thing he could never shatter. As days went on and bruises formed, the familiar feeling of fear started to settle in my throat.
It has been there every day since.
I became a master at hide and seek, all for the sake of avoiding this boy who turned out to have hidden scars of his own. I think at one point I saw the sadness storming deep inside his eyes. That day he became the first boy I ever fell in love with. He was twisted, but then so was I, and something in that told my innocent mind that we were soul mates. We could be twisted together.
I was twelve the day my father had a heart attack. I remember sitting in school that day bored out of my mind hoping something, anything, would happen. A trip to the hospital wasn't what I had in mind. A man came into the classroom, and some vague notion in the back of my mind told me he was a counselor. He came in often asking after students, but it was never for me, so I continued drearily scribbling doodles on my math notebook when someone tapped me on the shoulder. He asked me to come outside with him and immediately my mind scanned through all the possible things I could be getting in trouble for. It was when we started heading to the high school office that alarms went off in my head. They were so loud and disorienting that tears hit my cheeks before he could even tell me what had happened. My sisters were waiting for me in the office that has now long since been remodeled, and I felt weak for crying. Being the youngest, I had the excuse, but still I felt I needed to be strong for them. My body almost never agrees with my mind however, and the tears continued their descent and my gut continued it's angry screaming.
A lady was with us in the car ride over to the hospital. She spoke to me only and seemed to ignore my sisters. It was the first time anyone had ever paid attention to me over them. I hated her for it. When she told me everything was going to be all right I wanted to slap the pitiful expression off her face but instead all that came out was "ok". I was angry that day. I'm not sure entirely why, mostly the reaction would be sadness, not anger. But that day I felt my first real surge of blind rage and the moment my body experienced it, I knew it wouldn't be the last.
When I was thirteen the phobias started. Everything was a bit of a blur but I remember many days spent in a bedroom with the curtains drawn, shutting out the world. I was afraid, and hated it. It made me sick. So much that the fear started transforming into anger. I took that anger out on paper, the wall, my skin, anything I had access to. I'm not sure if people even noticed, or perhaps they did and just chose to label it a phase and brush it off their shoulders like a relentless buzzing fly.
Fourteen was the year my mind decided it was time to make my skin feel toxic. My skin was in a constant state of disgust with goosebumps trailing up and down my arms nonstop. People got curious and nosy. They poked at my skin and it felt like needles. Anyone's touch sent my mind reeling and chilled my spine down to the core. Turns out that wasn't the only thing wrong with my spine. That was also the year a charming man in a white coat told me I had scoliosis. I cried because it sounded like an insult. He gripped my shoulder to comfort me and I cried some more because his touch didn't bring goosebumps. Not in the least.
The age of fifteen greeted me with the usual assortment of birthday gifts, a book that would gather dust on my shelves, some markers I would never get around to using, and another treasured phobia. That year it was crowds. I used to love getting lost in crowds when I was little. I loved to imagine the legs were trees and I was in an overbearingly loud forest. I loved all the chaos of busy feet that always seemed to know what direction to go in. Most of all, I loved to test the boundaries of how far I could walk until that familiar sound of my mother's panicked voice called me back. But the addition of more years to my life took this love away from me and greeted it now with a racing heart and screaming thoughts. If it wasn't for my stubborn need to appear stronger than I felt, I fear I would not have left the house at all.
I was a child of stitched lips and melting heart.
I am a teenager of stumbling voice and lock-kneed words.
I will be an adult of whispered dreams and bucket lists.