Monday, September 16, 2013

Metamorphosis (short story by me)

I stand with a sick feeling worming around in my stomach. The corner of folded notebook paper digs into the palm of my hand. Deep breaths. I glance back at the gaggle of whispering girls behind me. They nod reassuringly. That is all I need to summon up the courage to pick my way across the room to the boy’s seat. He is still in the bathroom. Exhale of relief. My second-grade fingers inch the small square of paper into the gaping opening of his desk. As my hand disappears inside I imagine that the desk is a monster with a wide black mouth and sharp pencil teeth. I drop the note like it is on fire and yank my hand out of the boy’s desk, but the monster is gone. Now it is just me, a caterpillar on the brink of metamorphosis.

I hurry back to my seat and sit in my warm plastic chair, flustered and fluttering. An odd mix of pride and guilt spins its threads around my gut. I assure myself silently that it’s okay. It was just a joke - and he deserved it, right? Because he is the boy with the worn and torn clothes and the pasty skin and the thick southern drawl - the boy who smells of gasoline and body odor. He is the boy who all your friends warned you about - if he touched you they’d joke that you’d have to take a three-hour shower. He is the rail-thin boy who came to school with a black eye last year and didn’t even get an “Are you okay?” from anyone but the teacher. He is That Boy.

And I am that girl. The girl who sits putting the finishing touches on my paper cutout butterfly - a smidge of glitter here, a bit more color there - as the boy opens the square of wrinkled notebook paper. As he puts his head in his hands, the same hands that the class cowers away from, and cries. And all the while, I sit in my chrysalis, warmly embraced by the chatter of my friends. I don’t notice the tears running wet tracks down the boy’s grubby arms. My deed is done. In fact, I have already pushed the note out of my head - wrapped it up thick and hung it from a branch far in the back of my mind. That way the words, the cruel words scrawled in clumsy elementary school handwriting, will quit echoing in my head:

Your buterflly is ugly. -Anonamus.

But as I shove the thought away, the teacher notices the boy’s silent tears. She rushes to his side, offering him a tissue and asking the question, the one nobody ever asks. No one but the teacher.

“Are you okay?”

And then another rare question; “What happened?”

I look up just in time to see him scoot the tear-stained note across the desk. The cocoon in my head bursts open. There is no stopping the metamorphosis now.

Later in the day, the other students have pinned their paper butterflies to the wall and gone home. But I remain, my wings wet and paper-thin, my eyes filled with dread. The teacher has called my parents. They are coming to talk about the note. The guilt has come back to squirm in my stomach. I wish with all of my might that I had never let the desk monster gobble up that awful piece of paper and spit it out in the boy’s lap. Better yet, I wish I’d never written it in the first place. And the worst part is, I don’t wish it because I regret having hurt the boy. I wish I could go back and tear up the note into tiny pieces because I cannot stand to look my parents in the eye as they enter the room. The disappointment that is reflected there is too much for me to bear. I feel so small, like a quivering insect cupped in stern hands that could crush me at any moment.

I know that I deserve to be there. I am the reason the boy left school early with tear stains like riverbeds carved down his pale cheeks. I feel the guilt well up behind my eyes, turning them iridescent and making me see double. Big fat tears begin to spill from my eyes like dew drops. My mother enters the room and sits awkwardly in a child-sized plastic chair next to me, rubbing my back and murmuring words of reassurance. This only makes the dew drops fall faster because I know that I do not deserve my mother’s comfort. I feel transparent; freshly hatched and completely vulnerable.

The adults talk in stern yet understanding voices. They ask why I did it. I shrug my spindly shoulders. My voice comes out quiet and whispery. “Because… because I thought it wouldn’t matter. I didn’t think it would make him cry. It was supposed to be a joke.”

As the words leave my mouth I realize that the reason I thought it wouldn’t matter - the reason I didn’t expect the boy to shed tears over my silly corner of paper - was that I hadn’t considered him a person. To me, and everyone else in the class, he was just That Boy. Someone only there to be looked down on. Not a peer; not even a human being with feelings. And as I feel this realization blossom inside of me, I know that I must change. I must never let myself forget a person’s humanity again. The adults finish conversing and decide that I am to write a letter of apology. I accept my punishment with dry eyes and a high head, because this time I know that I will mean every word.

After an uncomfortable car ride home, a good cry, a warm spaghetti dinner and a good night’s sleep, I find myself standing again in the corner of the classroom as the morning sun shoots its soft rays through the blinds. And yet again, I hold a corner of paper tightly in my small fist. I look behind me, but nobody is there to cheer me on as I walk steadily across the room. I know I am alone, but I do not care. And as I slide the letter into the mouth of the boy’s desk, my wings fan out, beautiful and strong behind me.

I Am Exploding (poem by me)

I am exploding, tearing at the seams 

With sweet hope and melancholy steeped in dreams 

I move with aching urgency to the swaying beat and wail of strangeness and charm 

I hear seductive voices of invisible demons, slippery in my mortal grasp 

I see worlds of kaleidoscope color, spinning with faces and flowing from my pencil tip 

I want to understand myself 

I am exploding, tearing at the seams 

With sweet hope and melancholy steeped in dreams 

I feel as though my whole body is humming with bolts of eccentric lightning 

I create a secret place, its walls splashed with molten emotion

and sprinkled with fairy dust 

I wish I could open my eyes and turn my reality into something electric 

I try to understand myself 

I am exploding, tearing at the seams 

With sweet hope and melancholy steeped in dreams 

I touch soft fabric in my hands, a slick and silky river of wonder and possibility 

I cry when loneliness colors my thoughts with droplets of toxic gray 

I know I have fire in me, but fear coats my insides with sticky hesitation 

I need to understand myself 

I am exploding, tearing at the seams 

With sweet hope and melancholy steeped in dreams. 

When You See Her (poem by me)

when you see her, you'll know

her eyes are icicles

her hair is lava spilling

she will vaporize you

hypnotize you

you will melt, will be frozen

the twitch of her lips will determine your fate

her feet

always bare (resist conformity)

will stride in time with her heartbeat

for a moment, in sync with yours

when you see her, you'll know

Blue (poem by me)

Blue is the ocean, 

The wide-open sky. 

Blue is the earth 

From way up high. 

Blue is the sound 

Of the tide coming in 

The silence of the night 

And rush hour’s great din. 

Blue is the breath 

Of a fairy. 

Blue is calm, yet 

Blue is daring. 

When people are sad, 

They say they are blue 

But I think blue’s feeling 

Is feeling new. 

Washed clean, 

bathed pure 

And oh-so-sure 

Of anything 

That you might do. 

Blue has many sides 

And though it tries, 

It cannot hide… 

Vibrant, soft, striking blue. 

Close your eyes, 

and you’ll feel it too…

(Inspired by Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill)

Test (poem by me)

empty bubbles

in rigid formation

molecules that will form our lives

number 2 pencils

smell them, dusty and stiff


stored, organized

labeled boxes

in our brains

open the files



little robot minions

swallow words




wash it down with a thick packet

of dead trees

alien acronyms

for outrageous words

haunt our dreams

sweat beads on our brows

tears are shed

years wasted

all for that



Pink (poem by me)

Pink is the blooming 

Color of spring 

Pink is a delicate 

And gauzy thing 

The sound of pink 

Is a baby’s giggle 

As it coos and smiles 

And wiggles. 

Pink was the sun 

As it rose 

Pink is the majority 

Of my clothes. 

Pink is the rainbow’s 

Hidden shade 

Pink is the feeling 

In the middle of the day 

When the grump 

of the morning 

Begins to fade. 

Pink are the summer’s 

Evening skies 

Pink are the creases 

‘Round a grandmother’s eyes. 

And though many people 

Dislike pink, 

Pink is more beautiful 

Than you think…

(inspired by Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill)

Thoughts With Claws (a sonnet by me)

Sharp-edged arrows fly at outrageous speeds 

Eat the insults, spit them out, regret it 

And now from her eyes a salty angst bleeds 

Try as she might, she just can’t forget it 

Perhaps by stopping she’ll shrink so small 

She’ll disappear as if under a rock 

Or rip of her mask made up like a doll 

Revealing her insides for them to mock 

She’s making no sense, she knows very well 

To you she’s an innocent confection 

But that feeling hurts more than words could tell 

Not good enough, so far from perfection 

Her mouth is gritty with thick reprimands 

Surrender to the bed of clawing hands