Authors: Maria Ann Green
Just beyond my reach
I see your face
Your eyes, your hair
Everything's in its place
You're perfect and you know it
You stand where you are
With your feet planted tight
You stand still
In plain sight
But you're too far for me to reach
I see you and I want you
I want you to hold me
And be here in my arms
I wish I could have you
And be the one you charm
But I know now
You can't love me
You would cause me
Too much harm
Meagan let out a long and heavy sigh, so drawn out even she wanted to roll her eyes at it. She didn't want to be here, but Sarah had cornered her, and she felt obligated. If she declined to spend time with her too many more times, if she gave another flabby excuse, she was sure she'd soon have no friends left. Then she would be as alone as she so often felt. Besides, Sarah only meant well, and Meagan had blown her off enough lately. She needed to put in some face time, even if she had to suffer through it.
“What's wrong?” Sarah wasn't stupid, though. She apparently knew Meagan was forcing it.
Yes, that was true. But Meagan was so used to lying by now it just felt easier, so much easier and safer than the truth.
“Just wish I had enough money to buy all of these clothes.”
Meagan knew she didn't believe it for a second. Sarah's eyes pinched harshly with doubt, but when Meagan forced a smile, she shrugged her shoulders and went back to shopping.
She was used to squints, huffs, rolled eyes, and other forms of disbelief or annoyance. She was so used to them it was almost painful. But then, nothing followed. Somehow complacency and ignorance had become her new norm. So Meagan forced herself not to think about that. It was too hard to know no one cared enough to push, and she refused to cry in the mall.
Instead, she grabbed a dress and marched off to the dressing room for a distraction. She was so good at distraction. The dress was pink and simple, perfect for a summer day. Sarah took her armful of items to try on and followed behind Meagan.
This used to be more fun.
“You ready to show me?”
Life was so much more work when you had to push yourself to fake caring.
When she opened her door, she saw Sarah and began pulsating with jealousy. But it wasn't the clothing she'd chosen or how flattering it was that sparked her envy. It was Sarah's contentment and confidence that was making Meagan want to strangle her.
Looking down to her dress, Meagan suddenly felt uneasy. Her skin seemed to shrink around her, making it difficult to breathe.
“You look so great!”
Sarah meant it, but Meagan scoffed internally.
“You too.” The words came out right, but they sounded flat.
It was always so easy to change the subject. Too easy. No one pried.
As Meagan spun to change back into her own clothes, she felt a little lighter, they were safer, until she heard a gasp and grunt from Sarah. It sounded like she'd fallen, but when Meagan whipped around, Sarah was still upright. But she didn't look good.
“Stubbed my toe.” And her face showed how much it hurt.
Sarah nodded. “Carefulâ¦”
Meagan was sweating. It was so warm in the food court. She'd thought the stores were balmy, but this was outrageous. There were too many people, and those people were way too close. She could feel the hot moisture trickle down her spine. Her shirt would definitely be wet after this. She felt like an overheated and leaky faucet. Meagan was starting to feel itchy. She was so uncomfortable.
But through it all, she remembered to keep one sleeve down. She'd trained herself well. There was no room for error. It was a game she'd instantly lose, and losing had big consequences. The idea of summer and bare arms gave her palpitations.
When this dark problem had gotten a hold of her with unyielding fingers, she'd never considered sunny weather. It had always been a here-and-now fix. She almost never thought about the long-term for anything, and this time that had been a mistake.
When she'd started, she
she'd stop before the snow melted.
Of course. It wouldn't be a problem. How could anyone begin to rely on an action?
She'd thought it was obvious she could quit whenever she wanted, but she hadn't realized the marks would take longer to fade. They wouldn't just be gone the day she quit.
Would the scars be faint enough to be missed? If not, she'd have to get super creative, and she had no idea how yet. It was just easier not to think about. A lot was easier if she didn't think about it.
“Cheese pizza, please. Two slices. And a cola.”
Meagan wanted a nap after her time with Sarah was over.
Sarah had asked to go home with Meagan to do homework together before her dad picked her up. Meagan tried not to groan as she agreed. Now they were in her room with worksheets out. At least she was be
ing productive. Though she'd rather be alone, she
getting work done.
But Meagan's eyes were getting heavier. The activity at the mall was more than she'd usually faced lately, and it had drained her.
During a particularly long blink of Meagan's, Sarah closed her book and set her pen down, seeming to wait for something before speaking. It felt deliberate and called Meagan's senses to alert. She forced herself to hold eye contact until Sarah's mouth opened.
Meagan's heart picked up speed, but she hoped so badly to be wrong.
“What are you talking about?”
This time it was Sarah's turn to sigh.
“Don't pretend. This isn't a game. I'm not dumb.”
Meagan continued stalling.
“I never called you dumb.”
“No you didn't say the words, but that's how you're treating me right now. Tell me how long you've kept this from me.”
She was serious. She knew; it was in her eyes. But how could she know? Meagan thought back to every moment they'd been together today. She had kept her sleeve down despite the dripping sweat. She couldn't remember anything. She'd been careful.
And then it hit her.
The dressing room. The pained look on Sarah's face. The sleeveless summer dress. She hadn't stubbed her toe. She'd seen.
Meagan had forgotten; she'd messed up. And now Sarah knew. Suddenly Meagan felt too open, exposed, like she was sitting naked in a brilliantly lit arena. Piercing eyes were on her waiting for answers, refusing to let it go. It was too much. No one was supposed to know unless they understood how it felt.
“You're wrong. My cat scratched me.”
It was flimsy, but she'd heard it used for an excuse before.
“Stop. Stop lying. Can't you just be honest? I'm begging you to just to open up.”
Then Meagan started to cry. She tried to open her mouth for an explanation, but nothing came out except tears. No words. But those tears were answer enough for Sarah for now. They were a confirmation.
They were unrelenting. Before long, Meagan was sobbing. Hiccups escaped, and the world seemed to freeze. She worried she would never stop crying. Every moment of fear and pain that had crushed her before came rushing to the surface and exited through her tear ducts.
But Sarah just held her. She didn't interrupt. She didn't scold. She never even appeared uncomfortable.
It was hard to believe that disappointment wasn't part of Sarah's reactions, but Meagan never saw it cross her features. Concern was there, but that was part of being a friend. Others would have been disgusted or let down.
Apparently not Sarah.
It was amazing, and almost unbelievable, that someone cared without judging.
Finally, when Meagan was able to speak again after calming down, Sarah continued. “Can you tell me about it?”
“It isn't pretty. It doesn't even always make sense to me why I do it.”
“I want to understand as much as I can. I want to be your friend.”
“You are my friend.”
“Then let me be here for you.”
And so Meagan shared what she could.
Even though it terrified her.
Everyone talks about the road ahead
The path before us
The choices we can make
To take us somewhere special
But what about the road behind
The road we've already traveled
Does it just disappear once we've gone
No one ever mentions turning around
There aren't revelations of walking backward
Along the path already seen
To fix the bumps we hit before
And avoid them better later
Is it just emptiness behind us
Is that why we never speak of the road behind
I wonder if it still exists
After we've made our way through
Or even better still
I wonder who else walks those same ways
Who follows after our mistaken steps
If only we could yell behind
Give a map, a set of tips
To warn of potholes, sinkholes, traps
To advise a different route
It might be better to just walk forward
Yet I can't help but wonder
What lies behind
One more time
I did it again
I'm not sure why I do it
But I know that I can't stop
It's become a part of me
A part of who I am
Even if I wanted to get away from it
I'm not sure that I can
One more time
I cut my skin
I let the blood seep out
I watched myself hurt inside
And I watched my scream for help
I cry silently
It's hard to voice my pain
No one seems to understand
So I continue
To do it
Just one more time
Wears my patience thin
A hole gapes deep within my heart
Destroying all it's near
Ruining my cool composure
You've taken my love
And replaced it with nothing
As you walked away
Leaving me hollow
Something I can't seem to find
This is something I have to deal with
Something I try to hide
It's not something to be proud of
It's not an astonishing accomplishment
This isn't something you want to tell someone about
It should be embarrassing
And usually it is
This is difficult for me to live with
It's difficult to explain
Most don't understand
Why I feel the way I feel
And why I chose
To do what I do
Middle school is finally over. I feel like we are starting to grow up. We are moving up to the next stage in our lives. In four years we will be out on our own, heading toward college, the real world, and the rest of our lives. But for now, we are the babies again. We are going from the oldest in our school to the youngest in our next. It will be something to get used to. I feel like I need to get a little older, a little more mature. I am nervous, but I'm also excited to start somewhere new. I want to make new friends, meet new people, and have a lot of new experiences.
However, I am carrying something with me a lot of people aren't. I haul around unnecessary baggage. I don't cut as often as I used to, but it's still something I do. I am happy to say I do it less and less often now. It seems to only happen when there is a stressful time already, a point when I feel like I may break.
I sometimes think of myself as a twig in a powerful wind. When it starts as a breeze that blows, I can bend. But when there is tension put on me, and if it doesn't pause, if the wind doesn't take a break from blowing against me, or if it blows too hard, I can snap. But I always try to bend without breaking for as long as I can. I try to stay strong as much as I am able. But there are times I can't help but snap.
I snap. And then I put the pieces together in a counterintuitive way. I know it doesn't make sense to others, but in a messed-up way it does to me. I take control and try harder not to snap the next time.
I have had a few breakdowns, but they happen less and less. I feel like I may eventually be able to break from this cycle, stop snapping all together, and that is a wonderful thought. I may be able to find control in a healthier way. It might not be soon, but it seems like it may go away eventually.
There is an end in sight, and that is the hope keeping me going.