to the girl who was always painted red:
i knew you were angry at something. i didn't know it was me. you thought it was the one who left you behind or the one who never even glanced at you, but no, no no no, it was always me. you raised your hand in class, you looked smug when you wanted to be, you read all those books and you laid all these dreams in front of you, and for what. you were an eleven year old who didn't understand her own rage and maybe it's best that it wasn't as frightening in those days. it was just there. remember how alive you were, then? i can't remember as clearly sometimes but i know that you enjoyed yelling. you liked being loud. i wish you'd kept it somewhere, for a year or two, but you lost it, didn't you?
to the girl who cried in the bathroom when she lost her phone:
i wonder why you decided to keep the memory of that bathroom so vivid. i can still see it now, the graffiti on the walls, the shower that lived in there that no one ever used. an echo of a locker room that once was. there were a lot of locker rooms in your life at the time because you had to go to cross country practice. you were smaller then than you were in elementary school, in a way, because you blushed instead of screaming and you dodged bullets instead of embracing them in your palms. you started spending your time creating superpowers that you would hypothetically use, to get back at them, and less time looking at yourself in the mirror. was it too hard or did you just not care? i remember the cell phone, too, the insane texts they used to send to you because they thought it was funny. what's actually funny is how you never could bring yourself to hate them. they would insult you for kicks, and you'd just look at them. and they really thought they were looking back.
to the girl shivering on the bleachers:
you thought it was good, then. you thought it was great. you were thinking, i'm out of middle school and it's better than that so this must be as good as it gets. you truly believed it. you shithead. i'm sorry, i didn't mean that. it's just difficult looking back and seeing you trailing behind them all, still blushing but not in a cute way. he told you to smile and i can't remember if you actually did, but you should have punched him in the face. you should have punched her in the face for calling you ugly, and her for making fun of the way you move your hands, and him for hating the way you care too much. it was always that, you were always too much and you thought the solution was becoming too little. it didn't work out, obviously, because anyone trying to hold back the universe from expanding is bound to fail. in science class you kept asking what the universe was expanding into. i wish i could go back and tell you the answer.
to the girl staring at her mailbox:
suburbia is beautiful and terrible. i guess i should thank you for figuring this out. you keep wondering when they're going to call you; i'll give you a hint, they won't. she will, maybe, but it'll feel off and you'll keep thinking it's your fault. it's not your fault, darling, stop digging ditches that don't exist. moving's hard, and it's not going to get easier. i wish i could hold your hand to prepare you for this year of your life but it wouldn't make much difference. i wish that someone would've helped you but sometimes there just isn't anyone. and you can stop saying it's okay, how you went to art class hoping for a friend and instead found a deafening silence while everyone sketched out oranges, how you thought you discovered a hug in a coffee shop and instead found a distance that wasn't only physical, how they all saw you watching your life disintegrate on a tv screen in your brain and turned away without a second thought. how she thought it was all right to make you feel like nothing. how you stared at the wall and you tried to make up superpowers in your head again but instead found something uglier. how you thought you found summer and again found something uglier. how you're never going to drink alcohol because you've seen what it does. it's not okay, but someone should have told you that it wasn't so you would stop having to say the opposite. phone static that sounds like bees, baby, that's all you heard pumping out of your heart, when you should've heard symphonies. i used to wish they'd apologize to you, and they should have, but sometimes you have to keep walking and pulling the stars along with you.
to the girl i saw at a quarter to eight this morning:
when you wrote this you thought it would be a revelation. you quit taking piano lessons because your parents can't afford it and you can't seem to get the voice out of your head that keeps telling you how terrible you are, was, will be. you walked out of class today with your heart yearning and yearning and yearning for something you don't know how to find. you're placing pins on a map over and over again because you believe that it'll make it all go faster. the revelation is actually this: it's almost over. and it's not, because every time you inhale it's another beginning and you know you're obsessed with beginnings. and it doesn't have to be that cryptic, anyway, because you don't feel like broken glass anymore and you don't cry in school bathrooms anymore and you don't despise yourself anymore. you want to talk about victories, is that right? well, here's a victory. you're here. you're here and you're alive and sometimes that feels really, really great. you're going to have bad nights and bad sunrises but that doesn't mean it's all gone and it definitely doesn't mean you have to keep prying their hands off. they have firm grips but not the kind that leaves marks. i'm feeling generous right now, so here's another victory. and another one, and another one, and another one. you're full of love and it's impressive because your past selves couldn't see it and now it's always there, in plain sight, dancing in front of your vision, oceans and deserts and mountains, it's all there and it's forming the shape of your heart. remember those galaxies? hold them close, press them against your chest or up to your ear like a seashell. nebulae, black holes, clouds of constellations, they're all there and they're forming the shape of your soul. hold their hands. hold your own. it's okay to cry. you always thought tears were beautiful.
the girl you have spent eternity becoming