Lover Lover

I say I like honesty, I tell myself

I like honesty because

I keep making friends with lovers

with one-sided feelings

 

I know how those go, I am a girl

who lies on her bed in the daytime

earbuds in, staring into the middle-distance

watching a second life play out like

shadows on a sheet during a storm

 

I am a cautious person in life and

in imagination, knowing all too well

how the two fool around with one another

and at sixteen, how a thing between a boy

and me can turn my insides out

 

here I should admit, I am unlikely

and in all my state I attract people

who are all smiles and false impressions

who are my friends, my very best friends

until they admit otherwise

 

I can be bitter, even at my calmest

when I am told over the Internet

from age sixteen onwards, that I am loved

in a way I do not reciprocate

and that a relationship I thought

—dangerously—was equal, was not

 

I have lost too many people

to feelings felt, words unsaid for months

and months and months, amongst it all

I’m rarely spoken to in person

about feelings so personal

they ought to inspire intimacy

 

this is where I leave most, because

I haven’t been met with the chance

to share feelings, but instead have been stuck

receiving them, dealing with them

addressing them

 

if I am that girl for you, on the bed, daytime

through the blinds and eyes staring off

at something an arm’s length away

then you will know, because I will tell you

 

 

Ghost Boy

There was one figurine left, sitting in the far corner of my Grandma’s glass cabinet. A porcelain ballerina tying her shoes, looking demure as she crisscrossed the ribbons across her ankle. I had to get on my tiptoes to reach it, and as the shelf dug into my chest all I could smell was dust.

“Um…Liss?” Maggie called. She was standing right above my head – I could hear her small, sensible shoes shuffling around the attic floor. I grabbed the ballerina by her head.

“What!”

Sliding the glass cabinet closed, I caught my muted reflection in the mirror and saw the bags under my eyes before anything else. I pushed my fringe from my forehead.

“What!”

“Can you come up here?” Maggie said.

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CHECKLIST:

CHECKLIST:

Book x1 (The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury)

“Chicago’s got more alleys than…anywhere else in the world.”

“Why are we running?”

Charlie’s orange hair tumbled behind her, and I followed it. We flashed past closed garage doors and roller bins, weaving between groups of kids playing in the lane.

“Elena?” one of them shouted at me. I caught a glimpse of more red hair – Charlie’s little brother stopped bouncing his tennis ball to stare at us. The storm clouds overhead roiled with the promise of rain.

“We’ll be back for dinner!” I yelled. The cold air stung the back of my throat as I breathed in.

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Commencement Speech

“Okay little bro, today’s a big deal for us.”

I twisted to face him, resting my legs on the driver’s seat. We were outside of the supermarket and would-be rain clouds were rolling over the parking lot. Coby had a firetruck in one hand and Spiderman in the other. He was slamming them together and making crashing sounds, spitting all over the back of my seat.

“Why’s Spiderman bigger than the truck?” I asked him while picking at my chipped nail polish.

“He’s Spiderman,” Coby said with a lisp. “Why’s today big?”

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“And Trouble”

The glass cabinets of grandmothers are always filled with mysteries. It was from that trove of trinkets that the little girl pulled the one thing she thought wouldn’t be missed – a cup. It was silver speckled with rust, and it had rubies embedded in its side. She didn’t know they were real rubies when she bundled it under her shirt. It looked so ordinary sitting behind the jewellery and porcelain statues.

Her grandmother stirred soup in the kitchen, her wooden spoon cutting through steam and splashing drops onto her apron as she worked. The smell of pumpkin wafted through the house, as well as a bite of apple and mint. It followed her through the door and clung to her skin, until the wind had time to wash it away. She hurried to the herb garden with the cup pressed to her skin. When she kneeled in the dirt and pulled the cup out from its hiding place, she stopped to look at the finely cut rubies and the triangles that glittered within. It looked like another dimension.

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The Dark

Her Daddy had a black eye. She saw it when he knelt down in front of her and rubbed the morning out of his eyes, and winced. But like every morning he held her wrists, patted her belly, telling her to,

“Go out and make some trouble.”

She grinned and ran out of the dark house, into the sunlight of the field, leaving her dad deep in the shadows and her mum further still, behind the always closed bedroom door.

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But What If

I wore my coat like armour with my badge over my heart. My laces were tight, double knotted and secure. I let my hair down, ironed straight, because I thought I would feel powerful with it blowing in the wind. My boots crunched on the gravel, along with everyone else’s, and we walked. I was arm in arm with Kitty, her blonde hair flowing past her like a cape. Like always, she had a defiant smile on her face. Every time we left the house she would say,

“Chin up and have fun. This isn’t a funeral.”

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