The smell of books surrounds me. The dim light coming from the lamp illuminates the small room. The bed beneath me creaks as I shift positions to get more comfortable with the book in my hands.
I am 7 and I am a writer.
My home is broken, my family somehow even worse. I find comfort in the words on the pages I carry in my little hands.
I am 8 and I am a writer.
My voice is weak, but my pen is strong. One day, I will fight.
I am 9 and I am a writer.
My parents scream. I hide in my closet, on top of a small pile of notebooks stained with blood, ink, and tears.
I am 10 and I am a writer.
Boys are weird, but girls are worse. Books are the best. My parents scream again, but I can’t hear them over the scratching sound of my pen on paper.
I am 11 and I am a writer.
The yelling continues again tonight. I look myself up and down in the mirror, hating what I see. I rub the calluses on my hands fondly, proud of my pen.
I am 12 and I am a writer.
The air in the locker room is heavy with the smell of perfumes, deodorant, hair spray, and girls, girls, girls. I slip my book back into my back and scurry out of there as fast as possible.
I am 13 and I am a writer.
The ace bandage is tight around my chest as I shove my legs into baggy, boy pants. My pen is heavy in my pocket as I slip out of the house of screams.
I am 14 and I am a writer.
My long blonde locks fall gracelessly around me as the scissors hack my hair off. I pick a long strand and tape it into my notebook.
I am 15 and I am a writer.
“she she she she she shesheshehesheSHESHESHE!”
The screams are whispers, but they carry so much weight.
A sound so low, broken, and cracked I can’t believe it came from my own mouth.
The words that glide across my page are messy and stained with tears and full of masculinity I long for.
I am 16 and I am a writer.
My binder leaves bruises that are welcomed. My short hair feels so light, I can’t even remember what the previous length felt like.
This time with confidence. This time I ignore the screams. This time I am proud. This time my legs don’t shake. This time my voice does not shake.
Words are my weapon and I am a skilled fighter.
I am 17.
I am a man.
I am a writer.