July 2018

Me? I’m not love. I’m not even loved, really. It’s all about keeping me from hurting other people. It’s never about keeping them from hurting me. Like, I get it. I’m nobody’s idiot. I’m always a volcano, just always, and sometimes I erupt. I get mad and other people end up covered in things like blood or bone shards or whatever. I really get that, seriously. But sometimes I wonder if Astrid, or Moose, or any of them really see me. When I’m calm. When I’m smiling. I walk by mirrors and sometimes all I see is what they probably see. Anger and boiling

he put her cigarettes out on my arms a lot. I’d see the cherries moving slowly in the dark, her bright, big eyes watching me, and she’d connect with my skin. It sizzled, as expected, and I never reacted, as expected. The skin underneath would warp and curl into itself until the cherry finally died out, leaving ash and char. I never stopped her. Just watched the thing mold my arm for her viewing pleasure. In a few hours, the skin would be fine. The char would be gone. I would be back to whatever it was that defined normal for me. For two accomplished, bougie black professionals, Noah’s parents almost never engaged with us. Here I was, their adopted child. Here Noah was, their almost textbook promiscuous, edgy daughter. And we sat and smoked and burned in the bedroom without a worry. I didn’t feel it then, just like I wouldn’t feel it now. But it always annoyed me. “You don’t even scar. Ugh. I bet you’ll look the same way you do now when you’re fifty. Or a thousand.” She was the only one who knew and she delighted in that. When I ate at the table those big things, those giant