I was having

A pretty better-than-average day at my well-paying job

Repeating my pleasant cashier script to my mostly-pleasant customers

Pretending all of life’s boo-boos don’t exist

As my suburban-middle-class-white-bread brain has been trained to

My whole life


I rang up the girl

With the flaming red hair

Dazzling smile

And cuts running down her arms like a ladder.

Deep cuts,


But much deeper,


I stood there stunned out of words for her, trying my best to be whatever the hell appropriate was,

And I thought

You have to hurt pretty bad

To even think about doing that to yourself.

I can’t even fathom

What would make a person do that.

What kind of pain she must be feeling

That she hides behind that dazzling smile

And flaming red hair.

I wanted to reach out to her

In some small way.

Tell her she was beautiful—

in passing—

Or even write it on her receipt.

One little thing could turn the day around for her,

Stop her from cutting

That night.

But as usual

I chickened out.

Best not to rock the boat.

To go on pretending things like this don’t happen to good people.

Because they can’t happen to me right?

I’m good people.

Or at least that’s what I’m supposed to be.

This is why I write. I write to deal with things I fear, things I don't understand. I write to cope with problems much bigger and badder than I thought the world to be capable of. I write to stay sane. I write to brand my memories somewhere other than the malleable mush of my brain. I write all the things I can't say out loud, and some I plan to.


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