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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse

When You Are Queer

You are labeled a sin. Your priest

commands you to seek redemption

in Hail Mary or men. Your grandpa

calls you a faggot out of habit,

brands you as the ram for the offering.

You are a stutter, acid rain your father

spits into his linens, infinite penance

your mother repeats for your existence

as the lamb that left the shepherd.

Together they bandage your damned body,

refuse to let her bleed out. They trade

one wet prayer for another and beg God

to make you a martyr, the disciple

who would rather be the fish

that feeds five thousand than

the man who is served supper.

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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse
When You Are Queer
You are labeled a sin. Your priest
commands you to seek redemption
in Hail Mary or men. Your grandpa
calls you a faggot out of habit,
brands you as the ram for the offering.
You are a stutter, acid rain your father
spits into his linens, infinite penance
your mother repeats for your existence
as the lamb that left the shepherd.
Together they bandage your damned body,
refuse to let her bleed out. They trade
one wet prayer for another and beg God
to make you a martyr, the disciple
who would rather be the fish
that feeds five thousand than
the man who is served supper.
#poetry  #freeverse 
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Written by paintingskies

faith is a verb

i don't speak prayer. my syllables break like loaves of bread when i try to speak anything but the language my father taught me when he drove me to his nephew's headstone and said the fucker loved the high more than he loved breathing. once my sister and i learned what death was, there were two ways to go. we split like veins: she ran to the nearest chapel and prayed so much that it left permanent creases in her knees, each groove a different milagro. she weaved rosaries in her sleep. i couldn't decide what to have faith in—boys, girls, zoloft, a hospital, prozac, lexapro, a girl, no god. but i wanted a savior. 

there are different ways to reach enlightenment. i don't measure my days by my blessings; instead, i measure time by the number of antidepressants i've exhausted, deadlines for my death and their extensions, colors i've painted my bedroom walls. yellow is the most prominent. i didn't worship anyone, but i became a disciple of van gogh when i decided i needed a change. i followed his teachings—yellow will bring you closer to heaven. i knew it was flawed logic, a rejected hypothesis other suicidal kids debunked years ago. i just liked the idea of experimenting, until that paint watched me die and didn't do a damn thing except reflect jaundice.

now the walls are white. they stain easy. i clean blood after snot after sweat all by myself because i know i have to save me, but i still wish i could hand the wet rag to someone else, go back to the hospital and dissolve into medical records on a shelf, collapse on the plastic bed and never move again.

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Written by paintingskies
faith is a verb
i don't speak prayer. my syllables break like loaves of bread when i try to speak anything but the language my father taught me when he drove me to his nephew's headstone and said the fucker loved the high more than he loved breathing. once my sister and i learned what death was, there were two ways to go. we split like veins: she ran to the nearest chapel and prayed so much that it left permanent creases in her knees, each groove a different milagro. she weaved rosaries in her sleep. i couldn't decide what to have faith in—boys, girls, zoloft, a hospital, prozac, lexapro, a girl, no god. but i wanted a savior. 

there are different ways to reach enlightenment. i don't measure my days by my blessings; instead, i measure time by the number of antidepressants i've exhausted, deadlines for my death and their extensions, colors i've painted my bedroom walls. yellow is the most prominent. i didn't worship anyone, but i became a disciple of van gogh when i decided i needed a change. i followed his teachings—yellow will bring you closer to heaven. i knew it was flawed logic, a rejected hypothesis other suicidal kids debunked years ago. i just liked the idea of experimenting, until that paint watched me die and didn't do a damn thing except reflect jaundice.

now the walls are white. they stain easy. i clean blood after snot after sweat all by myself because i know i have to save me, but i still wish i could hand the wet rag to someone else, go back to the hospital and dissolve into medical records on a shelf, collapse on the plastic bed and never move again.
#freewrite 
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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Safety Nets

Rumor beats paper and says she jumped

off the water tower, hit the soil

so hard that the earth buckled

beneath her and collapsed like the muscles

of her mother when the police called

her at 4pm. First responders teed off

later that afternoon and wedged

their way to the hazard. Her corpse ruined

their chances of a bogey, but the mayor

announces her death as a victory:

at least she didn’t hemorrhage

in the tank. At least we’ll have drained

the city of her memory by Monday.

Caution stays for the next seven days.

Sheriffs guard the dome with Chevrolets,

then replace their eyes with cameras

for higher definition. Bullying, the mother

shrieks to the reporter, but no one listens.

The principal hides his face. Utilities

reinforce the fence with concrete

and install searchlights at its base. I wonder

which our town thinks we’re protecting,

the water supply or the youth

who may choose to die by hurling

their bodies from thirteen stories

above the ground. How will they shield

them from the truth? She killed herself

with a noose around her neck,

yet they prefer to blame heights

instead of tongues because they can’t

stitch nets onto the roofs of our mouths.

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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Safety Nets
Rumor beats paper and says she jumped
off the water tower, hit the soil
so hard that the earth buckled
beneath her and collapsed like the muscles
of her mother when the police called
her at 4pm. First responders teed off
later that afternoon and wedged
their way to the hazard. Her corpse ruined
their chances of a bogey, but the mayor
announces her death as a victory:
at least she didn’t hemorrhage
in the tank. At least we’ll have drained
the city of her memory by Monday.

Caution stays for the next seven days.
Sheriffs guard the dome with Chevrolets,
then replace their eyes with cameras
for higher definition. Bullying, the mother
shrieks to the reporter, but no one listens.
The principal hides his face. Utilities
reinforce the fence with concrete
and install searchlights at its base. I wonder
which our town thinks we’re protecting,
the water supply or the youth
who may choose to die by hurling
their bodies from thirteen stories
above the ground. How will they shield
them from the truth? She killed herself
with a noose around her neck,
yet they prefer to blame heights
instead of tongues because they can’t
stitch nets onto the roofs of our mouths.
#poetry  #freeverse  #draft 
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Written by paintingskies

what if i like the

labyrinth? what if i am

afraid of the sun?

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Written by paintingskies
what if i like the
labyrinth? what if i am
afraid of the sun?
#haiku 
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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Fish Bowl Woman

He tells me, this is science.

These are facts. Your body

bakes the bread. Your knees

bond to the floorboards. Scrub.

Whisper. Speak only in white noise

but don’t sleep. Wring my kerchief,

hold my wrench, warm my shadow.

Keep your knuckles beneath the table

or in the dough. Don’t ask me

to repeat myself, don’t question

my collection of tongues on the shelves.

You come from women who float

and marinate in formaldehyde,

who scooped their eyes into jars,

boiled their ears and served

their deafness for dinner.

Inherit their comatose.

He tells me, your body

is my temple. Shrink.

Grow as small as the space

I give you. I will call on you

when I need a coatrack.

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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Fish Bowl Woman
He tells me, this is science.
These are facts. Your body
bakes the bread. Your knees
bond to the floorboards. Scrub.

Whisper. Speak only in white noise
but don’t sleep. Wring my kerchief,
hold my wrench, warm my shadow.
Keep your knuckles beneath the table
or in the dough. Don’t ask me
to repeat myself, don’t question
my collection of tongues on the shelves.

You come from women who float
and marinate in formaldehyde,
who scooped their eyes into jars,
boiled their ears and served
their deafness for dinner.
Inherit their comatose.

He tells me, your body
is my temple. Shrink.
Grow as small as the space
I give you. I will call on you
when I need a coatrack.
#poetry  #freeverse 
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Written by paintingskies

crack hands

my mother says i speak with my hands. red fingertips ripped raw, scratching skin, digging holes to bones. she says the dried blood beneath my nail beds reminds her of women whose homes are shadows and alleys, who swallow grease and eat needles, who need a fix and need fixing but can't do it on their own. she says to please keep my left hand away from my right, stop your picking, jesus christ. she says i am lucky i still have skin to grow.

my grandmother passed down her bad habits. my father passed them down to me, and i have inherited every piece of dead skin they have peeled off their bodies. my grandmother picked her shoulders, my father picked his fingers and his toes. i was born a hybrid who is willing to scavenge both.

when i am ten, my mother coats my hands in lotion, the kind that smells like a head cold in the winter. she wraps gloves to my wrists in gauze, tells me to wear them while i sleep. she thinks double layers can stop me. i rip the fleece off with my teeth.

i'm at my worst when i'm with god. my mother holds my hand during the our father and won't let go until mass ends. she slaps my arm every time i pretend to fold my palms to pray but start to pick again. at penance i stain the pew when i rest my red nails on its wood. the priest and i both know i won't confess to the mess i've made even though i should. 

i learn how to shake hands with strangers and grip their palms like i am whole. lightly squeeze, dip and flip at a fifteen degree angle. i hide the animal my father sees, whose maimed joints i make look tame. the cracks in my knuckles go deeper than any routine can tame.

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Written by paintingskies
crack hands
my mother says i speak with my hands. red fingertips ripped raw, scratching skin, digging holes to bones. she says the dried blood beneath my nail beds reminds her of women whose homes are shadows and alleys, who swallow grease and eat needles, who need a fix and need fixing but can't do it on their own. she says to please keep my left hand away from my right, stop your picking, jesus christ. she says i am lucky i still have skin to grow.

my grandmother passed down her bad habits. my father passed them down to me, and i have inherited every piece of dead skin they have peeled off their bodies. my grandmother picked her shoulders, my father picked his fingers and his toes. i was born a hybrid who is willing to scavenge both.

when i am ten, my mother coats my hands in lotion, the kind that smells like a head cold in the winter. she wraps gloves to my wrists in gauze, tells me to wear them while i sleep. she thinks double layers can stop me. i rip the fleece off with my teeth.

i'm at my worst when i'm with god. my mother holds my hand during the our father and won't let go until mass ends. she slaps my arm every time i pretend to fold my palms to pray but start to pick again. at penance i stain the pew when i rest my red nails on its wood. the priest and i both know i won't confess to the mess i've made even though i should. 

i learn how to shake hands with strangers and grip their palms like i am whole. lightly squeeze, dip and flip at a fifteen degree angle. i hide the animal my father sees, whose maimed joints i make look tame. the cracks in my knuckles go deeper than any routine can tame.

#freewrite 
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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse

"Connersville gripped by heroin epidemic"

My mother and I watch the local news

as our city plots its suicide.

Citizens spasm in the streets.

Twenty overdoses in twenty days—

This is how we choose to die:

veins with rat poison and drain cleaner,

our bodies in alleys where God can’t reach.

A man with track marks lies face-down

on the park bench. A child picks up

his needle in the mulch. A seventeen-year old

shoots up and shares the syringe with his friends

because his dealer is his father. Meaner streets

are scared of us. They lock us in quarantine

and pray we haven’t sold our bad batch

across county lines. My mother says eventually

we will learn our lesson. We will stop

when we see the destruction around us.

What I am asking is what if cyclones

don’t care what they ruin?

What if comatose is our addiction?

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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse
"Connersville gripped by heroin epidemic"
My mother and I watch the local news
as our city plots its suicide.
Citizens spasm in the streets.
Twenty overdoses in twenty days—
This is how we choose to die:
veins with rat poison and drain cleaner,
our bodies in alleys where God can’t reach.
A man with track marks lies face-down
on the park bench. A child picks up
his needle in the mulch. A seventeen-year old
shoots up and shares the syringe with his friends
because his dealer is his father. Meaner streets
are scared of us. They lock us in quarantine
and pray we haven’t sold our bad batch
across county lines. My mother says eventually
we will learn our lesson. We will stop
when we see the destruction around us.
What I am asking is what if cyclones
don’t care what they ruin?
What if comatose is our addiction?
#poetry  #freeverse  #drafts 
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Tell a story through a list: 1) It can be broken by numbers or bullet points or commas or something else. 2) It can be a collection or sequence or whatever you want. 3) Winner gets 50 coins.
Written by paintingskies

The Women I Have Been Warned Against Becoming

1. Woman of Matter

-Woman who will not share space, who does not remove her elbow from the arm rest at the doctor’s office while she waits to be told she is not to scale

2. Woman who Roars

-Woman who speaks over interruptions, who met silence and left it lying in the streets because she refused to listen to what it had to say

3. Woman who Needs no Shield

-Woman who learned self-defense from chopping onions, whose knuckles grew thick as metal from kneading dough

4. Woman of Curiosity

-Woman who always asks questions, who seeks answers inside the bellies of beasts

5. Woman Clothed in Strength and Pride

-Woman whose heels click and lips shine, who dresses above the knee because she is not ashamed of her thighs

6. Woman with Teeth

-Woman who bites back and draws blood, who scrapes knees and bruises ribs with her tongue

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Tell a story through a list: 1) It can be broken by numbers or bullet points or commas or something else. 2) It can be a collection or sequence or whatever you want. 3) Winner gets 50 coins.
Written by paintingskies
The Women I Have Been Warned Against Becoming
1. Woman of Matter
-Woman who will not share space, who does not remove her elbow from the arm rest at the doctor’s office while she waits to be told she is not to scale

2. Woman who Roars
-Woman who speaks over interruptions, who met silence and left it lying in the streets because she refused to listen to what it had to say

3. Woman who Needs no Shield
-Woman who learned self-defense from chopping onions, whose knuckles grew thick as metal from kneading dough

4. Woman of Curiosity
-Woman who always asks questions, who seeks answers inside the bellies of beasts

5. Woman Clothed in Strength and Pride
-Woman whose heels click and lips shine, who dresses above the knee because she is not ashamed of her thighs

6. Woman with Teeth
-Woman who bites back and draws blood, who scrapes knees and bruises ribs with her tongue
#draft 
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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Woman, Simple Machine

For her twenty-first birthday, my sister asks for a knife

because she is convinced the world is a gunfight.

Our father never taught her how to throw the first punch,

how to harness her potential energy and make it kinetic.

She has only learned how to own her inertia:

how to sit stationary, 

how to hike home before sunset,

how to park beneath a street lamp because my mother is convinced

that evil obeys the principles of physics,

thus it cannot occupy the same space as light.

I wonder why she believes this theory,

which applies only to particles at a microscopic level,

because her own evil sits at the head of the table

at our family’s Christmas dinner

and he does not melt under the bulbs’ fluorescence.

I know at least six women who have broken Newton’s third law of motion,

who have had forces exerted on their bodies

without being able to produce an equal and opposite reaction

because their mass did not matter,

their will did not factor into the equation.

Mathematically speaking, this makes sense,

because will is neither vector nor scalar

and these girls were not quadratics waiting to be solved.

The men who cried gravity were just grasping at straws

at an acceleration of 9.8 m/s2.

There was no force but friction between them,

but again, it’s like the case of my mother—

she could no longer resist the pressure.

Which is worse: to be water or an isotope?

I see Hooke’s Law in action when I witness women working.

They stretch in proportion to the stress

exerted on their bodies until the strain is too much to bear

and they snap, reduced to shapeless substances

that can only borrow the forms of the flasks they occupy.

The others have shouldered too many neutrons for so long

they are radioactive, destined to spend their nights rubbing oil

on their sore backs as they degrade.

My sister observes the decay.

My sister asks for a knife because she is afraid of her half-life,

the rate at which she discovers she is a lever to be pulled,

she is a mass to be displaced,

she is an object to be acted upon.

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Written by paintingskies in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Woman, Simple Machine
For her twenty-first birthday, my sister asks for a knife
because she is convinced the world is a gunfight.
Our father never taught her how to throw the first punch,
how to harness her potential energy and make it kinetic.
She has only learned how to own her inertia:
how to sit stationary, 
how to hike home before sunset,
how to park beneath a street lamp because my mother is convinced
that evil obeys the principles of physics,
thus it cannot occupy the same space as light.
I wonder why she believes this theory,
which applies only to particles at a microscopic level,
because her own evil sits at the head of the table
at our family’s Christmas dinner
and he does not melt under the bulbs’ fluorescence.
I know at least six women who have broken Newton’s third law of motion,
who have had forces exerted on their bodies
without being able to produce an equal and opposite reaction
because their mass did not matter,
their will did not factor into the equation.
Mathematically speaking, this makes sense,
because will is neither vector nor scalar
and these girls were not quadratics waiting to be solved.
The men who cried gravity were just grasping at straws
at an acceleration of 9.8 m/s2.
There was no force but friction between them,
but again, it’s like the case of my mother—
she could no longer resist the pressure.
Which is worse: to be water or an isotope?
I see Hooke’s Law in action when I witness women working.
They stretch in proportion to the stress
exerted on their bodies until the strain is too much to bear
and they snap, reduced to shapeless substances
that can only borrow the forms of the flasks they occupy.
The others have shouldered too many neutrons for so long
they are radioactive, destined to spend their nights rubbing oil
on their sore backs as they degrade.
My sister observes the decay.
My sister asks for a knife because she is afraid of her half-life,
the rate at which she discovers she is a lever to be pulled,
she is a mass to be displaced,
she is an object to be acted upon.
#poetry 
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Written by paintingskies in portal Nonfiction

What Would Jesus Eat?

Somewhere, in the catacombs of the computer’s motherboard, there is a photo of me wearing an oversized t-shirt with the Nutella logo on it. Chocolate is smeared across my chin, my forehead, my cheeks. I smile widely, showing off the specks of cocoa powder between my teeth. If you look closely enough, you can even see the batter stuck in my hair.

I am baking brownies with my mother for a pitch-in at her work. As an adolescent, I am not that useful in the kitchen, but my mother allows me to mix the triple-chocolate batter and the peanut butter-hazelnut spread anyway. We both know that I am truly here for the clean-up. After the brownies are in the oven, I begin to “help,” working only as hot water, washing all of the utensils dry with my mouth. I remove the whisks from the mixer one by one and lick them clean, carefully sticking my tongue between the slits of metal, lapping up every drop of the batter as if I am one of those bone-thin extraterrestrials posing as a starving child in Africa. But the camera says otherwise. My mother snaps a photo of me while I am busy working to polish every speck of the spoon that is caked in sugar. When I am finished, she shows me the picture and laughs. “It’s perfect,” she says, pointing at the mess on my face, “it’s so you.”

I have never loved my body. This is not to say I remember actively hating my flabby arms and chubby stomach as a child, having memories of standing sideways and naked in front of the mirror and sobbing. Rather, I hated myself in smaller ways. I remember constantly wondering if I could carve the fat out of my stomach like I could a pumpkin. I remember feeling ashamed and disgusting every time my father measured my height and weight against the wall of the shoe closet on the first day of school. I remember having to keep my friends from entering the shoe closet whenever they came over, because I couldn’t have them seeing how much I weighed. The number haunted me.

My family is a food family, and by that I mean we value cooking, and by that I mean we are all big-boned. Although my mother considers cooking to be a chore, she works as if it is an art form and our plates are her canvas. Pork roast, Hawaiian sliders, chicken gnocchi, baked lasagna—when she is finished, our stomachs are on the brink of bursting, leaving the walls of the house looking like Pollock paintings.

When I open my lunchbox in the cafeteria the next day, a leftover brownie in hand, I am greeted with a scoff by my classmate, Skinny Girl #1. Although she stares at the treat longingly, her voice reveals disgust. “I can’t believe you’re eating that,” she says, but it sounds more like “Ikea be leaves you’re the Iliad” because I am so focused on the taste of this brownie that I can’t hear a thing. It’s taking all of my senses to even begin to appreciate the morsels of art I’m chewing. Fuck DaVinci and his Mona Lisa. If I die from happiness, fly the remains of this brownie to the Louvre.

Because I’m practically on the brink of experiencing a food orgasm, Skinny Girl #1 has to repeat herself, louder this time. She flings her empty milk carton to the side—of course she’s a lightweight who can only handle skimmed milk—to the table. “I can't believe you're eating that,” she repeats until all eyes are on me.

​I finish licking my fingers clean before I ask, “why?” genuinely wondering what her issue could possibly be.

​“Because she’s on a diet!” Prettier Skinny Girl #2 protests, standing up for her less-pretty friend. Following my instincts, I roll my eyes, not giving a single shit about Skinny Girl #1’s diet because a) we’re fourth-graders, and fourth-graders shouldn’t have to diet, and b) her “diet” changes every day, usually coinciding with whatever the cafeteria is serving.

“And it’s Friday,” Skinny Girl #1 says, tossing her slick ponytail over her shoulder.

This remark really throws me for a loop, considering Fridays come around pretty often, and this is the first time anyone’s ever really felt the need to tell me about it at lunchtime. So I shrug and continue cleaning my face, wiping the icing off of my lips, trying to become blissfully unaware of my reality once again.

“God, Samantha,” Skinny Girl #1 says, “it’s Lent.”

Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. The season I always confuse with Advent, the season of giving versus the season of giving up. Although we’re still kids in Catholic school, we’re taught to take Lent seriously. With a gulp, I swallow the rest of my dessert, grappling for an excuse for my behavior. “But I’m not eating meat,” I assure my classmates, simultaneously trying to reassure myself that I am not a Deadly Sin. I’m no Glutton. I’m definitely not breaking my “sacrifice” either—there’s no way in hell I could last forty days without chocolate—the trick is to give up something easy. But Skinny Girls #1 and #2 are onto me.

“It’s not meat,” Prettier Skinny Girl #2 says, “but you’re not fasting, and that’s gluttony. You’re a pig.” She smirks at me, along with Skinny Girl #1 as they jokingly play priest and command that I repent for my sins.

They have tapped into my biggest fear—the world seeing me for who I truly am. Suddenly, I am ashamed and guilty and angry all at once. Part of me wants to apologize for my lack of self-control, for not being as disciplined and as beautiful as they are. Another part of me wants to spit, “why don’t you crucify me?” but I don’t learn that phrase until my senior year of high school. Instead, I flee the cafeteria, feeling persecuted like Jesus was as he marched toward his own death.

That night, when I look in the mirror, I see a smorgasbord, a sow with flab like leather. I am a part of a food family, but I am angry because I only have myself to blame. I don’t take my faith or my health seriously enough, and I don’t know if I ever will. Maybe if I go to Mass more, God will grant me the loss of ten pounds. That’s how it works, right? I slam the bathroom door shut as I trudge into my bedroom. To soothe my feelings, I gorge myself on chocolate.

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Written by paintingskies in portal Nonfiction
What Would Jesus Eat?
Somewhere, in the catacombs of the computer’s motherboard, there is a photo of me wearing an oversized t-shirt with the Nutella logo on it. Chocolate is smeared across my chin, my forehead, my cheeks. I smile widely, showing off the specks of cocoa powder between my teeth. If you look closely enough, you can even see the batter stuck in my hair.

I am baking brownies with my mother for a pitch-in at her work. As an adolescent, I am not that useful in the kitchen, but my mother allows me to mix the triple-chocolate batter and the peanut butter-hazelnut spread anyway. We both know that I am truly here for the clean-up. After the brownies are in the oven, I begin to “help,” working only as hot water, washing all of the utensils dry with my mouth. I remove the whisks from the mixer one by one and lick them clean, carefully sticking my tongue between the slits of metal, lapping up every drop of the batter as if I am one of those bone-thin extraterrestrials posing as a starving child in Africa. But the camera says otherwise. My mother snaps a photo of me while I am busy working to polish every speck of the spoon that is caked in sugar. When I am finished, she shows me the picture and laughs. “It’s perfect,” she says, pointing at the mess on my face, “it’s so you.”

I have never loved my body. This is not to say I remember actively hating my flabby arms and chubby stomach as a child, having memories of standing sideways and naked in front of the mirror and sobbing. Rather, I hated myself in smaller ways. I remember constantly wondering if I could carve the fat out of my stomach like I could a pumpkin. I remember feeling ashamed and disgusting every time my father measured my height and weight against the wall of the shoe closet on the first day of school. I remember having to keep my friends from entering the shoe closet whenever they came over, because I couldn’t have them seeing how much I weighed. The number haunted me.

My family is a food family, and by that I mean we value cooking, and by that I mean we are all big-boned. Although my mother considers cooking to be a chore, she works as if it is an art form and our plates are her canvas. Pork roast, Hawaiian sliders, chicken gnocchi, baked lasagna—when she is finished, our stomachs are on the brink of bursting, leaving the walls of the house looking like Pollock paintings.

When I open my lunchbox in the cafeteria the next day, a leftover brownie in hand, I am greeted with a scoff by my classmate, Skinny Girl #1. Although she stares at the treat longingly, her voice reveals disgust. “I can’t believe you’re eating that,” she says, but it sounds more like “Ikea be leaves you’re the Iliad” because I am so focused on the taste of this brownie that I can’t hear a thing. It’s taking all of my senses to even begin to appreciate the morsels of art I’m chewing. Fuck DaVinci and his Mona Lisa. If I die from happiness, fly the remains of this brownie to the Louvre.

Because I’m practically on the brink of experiencing a food orgasm, Skinny Girl #1 has to repeat herself, louder this time. She flings her empty milk carton to the side—of course she’s a lightweight who can only handle skimmed milk—to the table. “I can't believe you're eating that,” she repeats until all eyes are on me.

​I finish licking my fingers clean before I ask, “why?” genuinely wondering what her issue could possibly be.

​“Because she’s on a diet!” Prettier Skinny Girl #2 protests, standing up for her less-pretty friend. Following my instincts, I roll my eyes, not giving a single shit about Skinny Girl #1’s diet because a) we’re fourth-graders, and fourth-graders shouldn’t have to diet, and b) her “diet” changes every day, usually coinciding with whatever the cafeteria is serving.

“And it’s Friday,” Skinny Girl #1 says, tossing her slick ponytail over her shoulder.

This remark really throws me for a loop, considering Fridays come around pretty often, and this is the first time anyone’s ever really felt the need to tell me about it at lunchtime. So I shrug and continue cleaning my face, wiping the icing off of my lips, trying to become blissfully unaware of my reality once again.

“God, Samantha,” Skinny Girl #1 says, “it’s Lent.”

Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. The season I always confuse with Advent, the season of giving versus the season of giving up. Although we’re still kids in Catholic school, we’re taught to take Lent seriously. With a gulp, I swallow the rest of my dessert, grappling for an excuse for my behavior. “But I’m not eating meat,” I assure my classmates, simultaneously trying to reassure myself that I am not a Deadly Sin. I’m no Glutton. I’m definitely not breaking my “sacrifice” either—there’s no way in hell I could last forty days without chocolate—the trick is to give up something easy. But Skinny Girls #1 and #2 are onto me.

“It’s not meat,” Prettier Skinny Girl #2 says, “but you’re not fasting, and that’s gluttony. You’re a pig.” She smirks at me, along with Skinny Girl #1 as they jokingly play priest and command that I repent for my sins.

They have tapped into my biggest fear—the world seeing me for who I truly am. Suddenly, I am ashamed and guilty and angry all at once. Part of me wants to apologize for my lack of self-control, for not being as disciplined and as beautiful as they are. Another part of me wants to spit, “why don’t you crucify me?” but I don’t learn that phrase until my senior year of high school. Instead, I flee the cafeteria, feeling persecuted like Jesus was as he marched toward his own death.

That night, when I look in the mirror, I see a smorgasbord, a sow with flab like leather. I am a part of a food family, but I am angry because I only have myself to blame. I don’t take my faith or my health seriously enough, and I don’t know if I ever will. Maybe if I go to Mass more, God will grant me the loss of ten pounds. That’s how it works, right? I slam the bathroom door shut as I trudge into my bedroom. To soothe my feelings, I gorge myself on chocolate.
#nonfiction  #creativenonfiction  #draft 
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Juice
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