f o u r / m o n t h s
i visited your grave yesterday.
unlike the movies, it didn’t rain.
the sun hung high in the clear sky,
kissing us all with gentle light.
but all i want is to be kissed
it’s been four months.
four months and one day ago,
we kissed for the last time.
but i was angry;
god, i was furious.
i remember screaming at you,
but i’ve forgotten what for.
even though i was yelling at you,
you pulled me close. and
with your fingers of honey
you drew hearts on my bare chest.
you knew i wasn’t really angry at you.
you knew it was something else.
you always knew, even when i didn’t.
i didn’t want to kiss you.
i didn’t even want to touch you.
tears were streaming down my face too
and then our lips touched and our salty tears mixed,
forming a bond i thought would last forever.
i’m so sorry.
i should’ve known.
i didn’t realize how bad it had gotten for you.
when your sister died, i didn’t fully realize how much of a
void that left in you.
maybe it was because i never had a sister.
or parents, really.
i was always on my own, until you.
i thought i was enough for you too.
i’m sorry for being selfish.
i’m sorry for being angry that i wasn’t enough to make you happy.
i’m so sorry that you felt like nothing would ever get better.
i wish i never would’ve let you leave when i knew you were drunk.
i thought you were just going to go to a friend to rant about me.
i never would’ve let you leave
if i knew what you were planning to do.
i visited your grave yesterday.
10 Years Without a Name
The first time my name was taken from me, I was eight years old. It was second grade, and my peers were perfecting the stage of cognitive development to make comparisons and contrasts, yet could not overcome the difficulty in telling me apart from my twin.
“Pair up with one of the twins.” the teacher would say, when someone needed a partner and my sister and I were still waiting to be picked.
“Hey twin.” A classmate would say, to get my attention. I tried to assert myself, ask why they couldn’t call me by my real name. They defended their actions — they couldn’t tell us apart. Three years into grade school, at third grade now, and they could not decipher us? I was a twin….not a classmate. I was not a peer. Not one of them. Not human. Some other thing. Not Natalie, not me. I was not known for me. I did not have defining characteristics to be enjoyed by others in friendship. I was just a unit.
The second time my name was taken, was at home.
“Come here dipsit!” my father would yell at me, trying to get my attention to clean something or watch him teach me a process.
“Whatever, dork.” He’d reply to most of my pleas for kindness.
“Quit pissing around, idiot.” - was a common phrase I heard when I was bored at home, with parents who didn’t put my sisters and I in some sort of sport or program so we wouldn’t be “pissing” around.
Living under that roof was as humiliating as walking through the hallways, mute and shy to everyone chattering to each other in their free time around me. “Twin” soon became replaced with the characteristics they did see in me, such as “midget”, in celebration of my short stature. I did not stray from the limits assigned to me.
My classmates needed a female to be at the bottom rung. They needed me.
The third time I had my name taken from me, was the last time. I was eighteen, and I was leaving my parent’s home for college. Whatever pet name that slipped out that day has been long forgotten by now.
I would come around in the summers, but it was different this time. The distance helped lessen any tension and blame I placed on them for my lack of cultivated talent or connections I could bring to campus, and shifted the paradigm in that I was more of a guest in their home. I was no longer physically reprimanded for a mistake I made — mistakes that are better learned from with discussion and explanation than the way that they were handled. I was not sure if I was respected, but I was no longer treated like an animal. I was human. I wanted to learn all I could about the world; about others. I wanted to learn a skill - to dance, to write, to volunteer, to succeed.
I was Natalie.
You asked me to make you cry....
In ways more than one,
I tried hard
to accommodate your request
I told you a sad story,
but you laughed.
I cast a tragic movie,
can make people laugh
until they cry.”
So, I delivered.
You cocked an eyebrow instead,
to give me a derisive look.
Then I became a comedy raconteur.
The long story was mighty funny,
yet you held that poker face.
I cried hoping you would too.
copious tears i shed.
I cried a river
But you guffawed.
You rip-roaringly laughed at me.
I was angry.
So, I got a sharp knife,
some things round,
and a flat, hard object,
Then I got you to a place
where you could not get out.
And I ripped,
and I made you cry.
you pleaded with me,
with no windows,
self-loathing, depleted, hatred, and lack of endearment
I meant the best but what I did was the worst,
my words were violent, shrill wales instead of soft silent calls for help,
my moments were fading slowly and instead of helping I made things fade inside,
I gouged out my eyes trying to fall asleep at night.
silent cries for help
know you're not asleep
know you're not alone,
I'll remind you I'm not away, and if I fail you at least I tried. my cries are not worry or pity for you they're hatred for me.
I hope one day you see what I see
through the eyes of the eyes, you do not love.
love me hate me,
meet me leave me,
cycles on rewind
cycles on repeat.
the devil hides in between the cracks that form from the line between your face,
love me hate me
meet me leave me,
cycles on rewind
cycles on repeat.
never ending but always repeating
my self destructing tendencies never seem to fade.
I haven’t shared a personal story in a while, but after today and seeing this prompt, I thought I should. Last Sunday I went to the mall with my mom. An empty section on the second floor now had two stores, Michael Kors and Kate Spade, two of our favorite designers. While my mom and I were looking at purses in the Kate Spade store, she discreetly took a call. Not a moment later does walk up to me with a smile.
“I’m on the phone with our doctor and she wants to ask you something. I can’t really understand her, would you mind listening?”
I smiled back at my mom and took the phone out of her hands.
“Hello?” I asked, looking a big, pink purse in front of me.
“Hey, sweetie” she greeted on the other end. “I would like to ask a favor of your mother and you. Can you write a good review of me on this website?”
My expression dropped. I slowly set down the purse I was holding and swallowed the growing lump in my throat. For a moment, I simply couldn’t answer her, I just watched a bad memory replay in my mind.
It was time for my family to get blood tests done and go in for a check up. I nervously fidgeted in the seat of my car the entire way there. That was the day I was finally going to bring up my anxiety to my doctor. That was the day she would tell my mom about getting me to see a psychologist. That was the day I’d finally be able to release the clenched breath stuck in my throat.
My anxiety had been an ongoing problem for years, but last year in particular is when it began worsening. I couldn’t go one day without obsessing over minuscule problems, over the way people perceived me, over if I was hurting people, over if I was a bad person, it just wouldn’t stop. My anxiety attacks wouldn’t stop, but my breathing always would. That was supposed to be the day that I could put that behind me and move forward. But instead, I panicked after getting my blood drawn. I was so horrified they’d find something wrong with me that I couldn’t contain it, I exploded into tears in front of my mom in the doctor’s office room.
Then, my breathing hitched, I lost feeling in my hands, face, legs, and feet, and panic spread throughout my body. As breathing became more and more difficult, my doctor called in nurses into the room. I couldn’t calm down, I couldn’t even see in front of me, everything in my mind and in reality moved to fast. There were too many people in the room, too many nurses handing me water and trying to calm me down, too much noise, it was too much. My breathing stopped. I remember clutching my chest and burying my fingers into my skin. No breath got in or out, it felt like someone had clamped my windpipe shut. I grabbed my mom’s shoulder and wheezed, now using my other hand to claw at my throat.
“BREATHE” I heard a voice in my mind say. “BREATHE.”
I couldn’t do it, and I started feeling lightheaded.
My mom started panicking and crying.
The nurses kept shoving water at me.
“FUCKING BREATHE!” The voice screamed.
Finally, I let out a choked breath. I heaved out every bit of oxygen left in me and inhaled in short bursts. I could feel my heart beating into my hand which still clutched my chest. My face flushed red and was now completely stained with tears. I still couldn’t feel my hands or face properly and my body trembled as it started to calm down. I didn’t stop trembling for a long time after that.
When I gathered more strength to speak with my doctor, she asked me what had just happened. I glanced at my mom who looked like she was disappointed, and the looked back at my doctor and took a big risk. I was honest with her. I explained how my anxiety had been worsening and how my anxiety attacks were becoming frequent. I sobbed the entire way through and I sat there, humiliated, and pleaded with her to get me help. I did not but get on my knees for her, but I begged and cried for myself. She sighed and also gave me a disappointed look
“You know, you’re a teenager and it can be really hard sometimes. Stress from school can also cause a lot of this anxiety. Bullying is also another factor.”
I blinked in disbelief. “No, that’s not what’s hap-“
“Yeah!” My mom interjected. “You know, she’s been bullied before, maybe she is now I don’t know. But it’s really affected her.”
“Yes, well, have you been having a hard time with kids at school?” My doctor asked.
“No!” I said sternly. “There’s no issue with people at school, that’s not what this is about.”
“Yes, this is about your anxiety. Well, I can recommend you to learn some breathing exercises and take time to not stress about school things. I can send you to this woman who specializes in teaching people breathing and mindfulness. But, I don’t think this is a problem.”
In that moment, I felt my heart sink to the core of the Earth. Numbness spread throughout my entire body as I listened to those last couple of words. “I don’t think this is a problem”. My seemingly last hope of ever getting help, of ever believing me, of ever convincing my mom that something else was going on with me, crumbled before my eyes. My bravery to take my problems and life into my own hands was worthless and had failed. Everything my anxiety planted in my head the moment I decided I was going to tell my doctor was right. I stared at my hands and watched as pieces of whatever was left of my hope and sacrifice slip between my fingers and turn to dust as it hit the cold floor. My doctor and mom were smiling at each other, they had now moved on to another topic. But I sat there watching and feeling everything inside of me break into millions of pieces.
“I, uhm... sure...” I finally answered, pressing my lips together.
“Ah, wonderful!” She said eagerly. “Now, if you search up my name on Google you’ll find...”
I did listen to what she told me to do, but not without wanting to throw my mom’s phone across the room and stomp on it. I said yes to be polite, to be courteous, even after I remember what she did at my last visit. Ever since then, I finally convinced my parents through many months of arguing, of pain, of accusations thrown at me, after being told I was a disappointment and that I was being cruel, to take me to therapy. There, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have been in therapy ever since. Today, I am doing better than ever before and look forward to a bright future at college.
So yes, I helped write you a good review, doctor. I hope you’re happy with yourself.
Why do you try to hide
your father's eyes
that purple hair
and your eyes
than the force
that drags you
to the ground
You're too young
to have it all figured out
to bleed from the outside
You're too young
to have guns
to have pills
God hasn't deserted you
You can stay
He's still there
You're too young
to have to think
wants to see you bleed
on the inside
and breathe through your skin
Don't you know
Can't you hear
and your world
had it my way
you could come
to my world
a decent verse
do you hide
not from him
but from yourself
Can't you see
not with your father's eyes
but with your own
that clean air
is easier to
Don't you know
what you're doing
not only to yourself
not only to yourself
but to the heart
of the man
you wished to be
You shouldn't have to know
who you are
if you'd let me
but I know
to breathe the air
of those who taunt you
They don't know
the full story
They can't hear the screams at night
will be there
in the morning.
They watched the scene unfold in front of him from behind the cover of the forest’s flora. Peter watched the subtle upkick of dirt that followed the slow-moving carriage, counting the seconds as it came closer. He jogged towards the carriage, relief lighting up his face. Naturally, with him obstructing the vehicle’s path, it slowed to a stop in front of him.
“Oh, thank you, thank you. I haven’t seen a carriage in hours. I got kicked off of my horse and I’ve been walking since then. It’s such a far way though, could I get a ride to the next town?” Peter asked, comfortably leaning up onto the carriage where the driver sat, a man who was visibly offended by the stranger’s presence.
“Sorry, there’s no room for another passenger,” The man said stiffly. He very well might have clicked the horses into a trot if Peter wasn’t physically leaning on the carriage.
“Oh but I could just sit up here with you, or I could even hang off of back just until the next town?” He said with a smile. Before the man could deny him again, the door to the carriage opened.
“What is going on out here? Can we get moving already? We don’t have all the time in the world.” A young man, one who had just entered adulthood, stepped out of the carriage, annoyance flickering across his face. His clean blond hair was tied back into a low ponytail with short black lace and his clothes, while seemingly average, were absent of even a single speck of dirt.
Peter’s attention was instantly drawn to the new man, a bright smile on his face, “I was just asking if I could get a ride to the next town. I got stranded out here after my horse ran off,” He said with a chuckle, sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck.
The man seemed to look at Peter like one would look at a filthy rat that was walking just a little too close, “There’s no room, now kindly get out of our way,”
Peter scrunched up his nose a little bit and shook his head, “No thank you,” He said cheerfully, grinning arrows and daggers came out of the treeline along with his friends, surrounding the carriage.
“So who are you?” Peter asked. The overgrown child was hanging upside down from a low hanging branch by bent knees. His head was tilted to the side in a curious fashion but the fact that he was upside down almost ruined the effect.
“Trace,” He said begrudgingly, not interested in sharing any further information. He was sitting up against a tree, his hands lashed behind his back and a rope connecting his hands to one of the roots that protruded from the ground. The four men holding him captive scattered around the area.
“You know what I mean,” Peter said with a pout on his lips.
“Yeah, I do. You’re point?” Trace shot back with a glare. He wasn’t stupid, not in the least, and he knew better than to tell this band of thugs who he was.
“The point is,” Ace interjected, having been leaning against a tree and staring at their captive, “We have no use for you if we don’t know who you are,” Trace frown deeply, contemplating his choices. He would do no good if he were dead but these men would only cause trouble with the knowledge of his identity.
“Well since rich guy over here needs to decide whether or not he wants to die today,” Caleb said interjected, standing up from his recently kindled fire, “I’m gonna go see if there’s any meat out here we can trap for dinner. Will, I’m gonna need you and your arrow shooting skills,”
“Or you could just learn how to shoot,” William said sarcastically, rolling his eyes as he closed his book and slipped it into his bag. He stood up to follow the blonde through the trees, the wo quietly bickering with each other.
Ace kept staring for a short while before pushing off of the tree and turning around, “Well, I’m going to fill our water skins. Peter, please have your feet on the ground when I get back,” He teased lightly before picking up one of their bags and walking off to find running water.
Peter huffed, swinging off of the tree and landing on his feet flawlessly, “You some son of a lord or something?” He asked curiously, sitting in front of the fire and poking it with a stick.
Trace was glaring at him from his spot leaning against the tree, choosing not to respond.
“Oh come on, don’t give me that mean look, that’s boring!” Peter whined, standing up and facing the captive man again, “Even if we want to ransom you that doesn’t mean I can’t get to know you,” He argued.
Trace furrowed his brows, giving Peter a strange look, “You’re not exactly the most sophisticated kidnapper are you?”
Peter slapped a hand to his chest in mock offense, “I’m the bestest kidnapper ever and don’t you forget it,” He huffed.
Trace rolled his eyes and shook his head, looking away from the enthusiastic man stubbornly. He would not converse with one of his kidnappers. It was probably a ruse anyway. He could feel the other man staring at him, it made him shift in discomfort. He could do without all the attention.
“I hope you know you’re not getting away with this.” Trace said bitterly. He looked at Peter who was still sitting uncomfortably close to him, “Why are you so chipper?” He asked, irritation dripping from his voice.
“Cause being depressing is kind of depressing,” Peter said with a shrug.
Trace could only look at him like he was stupid, “What kind of answer is that? It doesn’t make any sense,”
“Except that it makes perfect sense,” Peter argued with a grin, “Oh! I got an idea, how about a fair trade. I’ll tell you something about me and you tell me something about yourself,”
Trace raised a brow, “I fail to see the upside,” He said bluntly.
“It’s fun!” Peter said enthusiastically, “Fine, I’ll start. My parents died when I was six and this one asshole who was their boss decided he’d take care of me but he had a pretty funny definition of taking care of me since he hurt me and yelled at me a lot, but he owned a circus and made me perform and stuff but then the circus was attacked by a bunch of bandits, then Ace, Willy, and Cabe found me and we left the bandits to fight the world all by ourselves!”
Trace could only stare at Peter for a moment, dumbfounded by the sudden life story.
“Okay! Your turn!” Peter cheered, turning his body so he was facing their captive.
“You must be mental,” Trace said, pausing for a moment before speaking again, “If this is just you trying to figure out who I am then you can forget it,” He said stubbornly, shuffling away from the crazy man child.
“Well duh,” Peter said, giggling softly before standing up, “Okay then! I’m gonna go find Willy and bug him then!” He said as he turned on his heel and walked away.
“Whoa wait, you’re leaving me here alone?” Trace asked in a mild panic, looking around at the foreboding forest, “What if some wild animal tries to maul me?”
“Doesn’t matter, ransoms are for living people, not safe people,” He said with a giggle, turning around and walking backward, “That part is determined solely by the kidnapee,”
“Fine, fine!” Trace said quickly, “I’ll tell you something about myself!”
Peter grinned and ran back over, plopping down in front of him in anticipation for his story.
Trace leaned away a little bit, pursing his lips as he thought, “Well my dad is really busy all the time so he sent me here to find someone. And uh, I’m an only child I guess,” He said with a small shrug. He wanted to avoid saying enough to reveal who he was, that wouldn’t be good.
“What else?” Peter asked eagerly, his eyes wide with curiosity.
“What do you mean what else? What else do you need to know?” Trace asked in annoyance.
“Well, you’re entire life story of course!” Peter exclaimed as if it were obvious.
“Why would I tell you my life story?” Trace asked, his brows furrowed in frustration as he began to raise his voice, “I know you’re just trying to figure out who I am so you can sell me off so I’m not gonna do it!”
Peter pouted for a moment before sticking his tongue out at Trace, “Whatever, you’re boring.” He complained, standing up and walking over to a tree. He climbed up to a low branch and sat on it, playing with the chicks in a bird’s nest right next to him.
Trace didn’t know what to think about the sudden change of attitude. One moment he was the center of attention and now he was being ignored. Could he have been picked up by a stranger group of people?
“You’re never gonna get away with this, you know that right?” Trace said, glaring over his shoulder at Ace who was pushing him forward.
“Shut up,” Ace snapped, giving him a rough shove, gripping his shoulder tightly, “Just be happy you’re going home,”
“Can we go home after this, too?” Peter asked with bright eyes, looking up at William.
William shook his head and patted Peter’s shoulder gently, “You have to have a home to go back to it, you know that Pete,”
Peter pouted, crossing his arms, “Well can we buy a home?”
“If they hold up their end of the bargain, we can make a home where ever you want, Pete,” Ace said, a small smile on his lips, “Now keep down guys, we’re almost there.”
Trace frowned, glancing back at the group of boys, a contemplative look on his face. He was abruptly shoved forward again, into a small clearing with man waiting on the other side. The five of them walked towards the man, leaving a good twenty feet between them just in case. The proceeding silence was thick, not even the birds dared to break it. The thick silence was stretched for several infinite moments until Ace’s voice cut through the air, “Did you bring the gold?”
The man stared at him for a moment, the distrust in his eyes as clear as day. His sharp snapped reverberating through the clearing, followed by two men coming out of the tree line, carrying a chest between them. They set it on the ground, opening it up to show the gold coins that filled the crevice.
“Pour the gold on the ground and then put the pieces back,” Ace ordered abruptly.
“What? Why?” The soldier asked, his hands balling into fists.
“Because I said so,” Ace snapped, the sharp ring of a blade against its sheath echoing in the field and the sight of a blade at the prince’s throat silenced any response. Said prince jolted when he felt the abrupt threat, tensing as the cool blade pressed against his skin.
The soldier frowned deeply, nodding at the two men on either side of the chest. They tipped it over and watched all the coins spill onto the ground. Ace saw what he needed to see.
“You built a false bottom in the chest.” Ace said plainly, “If we receive half of our money, you will receive half of your prince. Now since I assume you have a full chest of gold back there I would like for you to retrieve it and I’ll take both of them. If not, we’ll just take our leave,”
“Alright, alright,” The soldier said, sending the two men away into the tree line. Ace watched them return moments later with a second chest.
“Tip that one over as well,” Ace said, watching as the men pushed it over, spilling all the coins into the grass. He nodded when they sent him an expectant look, keeping his eyes on them as they slowly started scooping the gold back into the chest. He had been hoping for something like this to happen. Kings were greedy, he knew they would try to trick him. But now they would be leaving with more than what they asked for.
Trace glanced back at Ace, glaring at him, “You’re a hard ass, you know that right?”
Ace snickered, shaking his head slightly, “And you a royal dumbass,” He said, tightening his grip on Trace’s shoulder and sheathing his knife. “Now shut up,”
They all waited for the rest of the coins to be picked up, at which point the two men stood up again. “Let’s get this over with then,” The soldier said impatiently.
Ace nodded, pressing Trace forward and walking with him to the center of the field. The soldier did the same, each man carrying one of the chests behind him, “Take the gold,” Ace said over his shoulder.
“And how are we supposed to know that you will return the prince after you take the gold?” The soldier interrupted.
“Well some common logic may help someone to come to that conclusion, though you’re not to be blamed for lacking in that department,” Ace said calmly, “Frankly the act of keeping the prince would benefit me in no way aside from a constant migraine. I wouldn’t even gain any satisfaction from it since I harbor no true ill feelings towards the king personally. But if we don’t hurry up, I may become bored and decide to take my time other places with the prince by my side,”
The soldier frowned, waving the men forward to place the chests down in between them. Caleb and William walked forward, both of them picking up one of the chests and beginning to walk them back. Ace nodded slightly, giving Trace a small push and releasing his shoulder.
Rustling to the side caught his eye and he glanced to the side. The moment the soldier’s hand touched the Trace’s back, the prince was shoved to the ground. Ace heard whistling arrows cutting through the air and whipped around to shout at his friends. “Get to the trees!” He made to run but found himself frozen as he saw the first arrow strike Caleb in the chest.
“Caleb!” Peter ran over to the fallen boy, falling to his knees in front of him, “No, Caleb, get up,” He begged, grabbing Caleb’s shoulders and receiving no reaction, “Caleb, please, get up,” He cried, tears streaming down his cheeks.
“Peter, we have to go!” William shouted, pulling Peter to his feet, neglecting the chests of gold entirely, and dragging him to the tree line. “Ace! Come on!”
The next arrow made Ace’s breath hitch, it went straight through William’s neck. Peter tripped over him as William’s body fell to the ground, his eyes wide with horror as he stared at his friends. He slowly started backing away before scrambling up and running.
Ace watched. And watched. And watched. There was nothing else he could do, he was stuck, he couldn’t believe this was happening, and he watched Peter get shot in his shoulder. And his leg. And his head. Peter fell to the ground and Ace stood there watching.
I am the traitor
I’ll admit it
I am a traitor
We say we won’t have any secrets
I still do
You tell me not to let any more shit happen again
I promise I’ll try
Because after all, I can’t guarantee
I’ll try as hard as I can
But I didn’t
I didn’t even shy away from the opportunity
I can’t even open up
My sense of being is wounded
And I treat it as a scrape
It’ll heal in silence
To hell with it
My best friend doesn’t know about my life anymore
She doesn’t know about my depression
Or that I was sexually assaulted
She doesnt know about the little things I know we could giggle about
About my harm
That I had a boyfriend
That I write
And I just wanna bash my head against the wall because
Goddammit she deserves to know!
I can’t just dump all this on her
I’d probably lose my best friend
So I’ll suffer the mental breakdowns alone
Fill the void of her presence with memories and music
Pretend she’s right next to me when I grace the field
With the freshly taped poles
And the brand-new silks itching for use
And the weapons silently sitting on the sidelines waiting for their turn
Pretend that I’m not slowly being replaced
to maybe fix my life