May 19, 2008
By Mallory Zimmermann, Hartland, WI

You, always you.
You hold me back. You are a boundary, a wall in my way, stretching from east to west all the way around the world. You are the wall and the reason I cannot climb it.

Because of you, I am weak and soft. I’ve drawn myself deep into a shell that curves over and over on itself like a nautilus, so that nobody can find me. Now I watch the people around, my greedy eyes glinting from the dark like tiny animals huddled in a cave. I want to be like them, with them, around them, absorbing their auras of good humor and love and life. But you are here too, and you keep me down here in the pit of my nautilus shell as I grip the chamber ridges so hard my nails bend back and the blood wells at the edge of the nail bed.

I cannot stand to think of you, think that once I did not know you so well and that I was happy then. Free. But the closer we became, the less I liked you. By the time I realized what was happening, how quickly I was being sucked down into the cold depths, it was too late. I knew you so well…I could never let you go.

Now I hate you, oh how I hate you. Without you I might be like them, the pretty ones, the happy ones. I insisted I’d hide, away from you and away from everyone. That I’d yell it to the hills; I’m never coming out of this shell of mine! And someday you’d be tired of waiting at the entrance and you’d leave; then I would scrabble up and out of the shell. But instead you wormed your way down and found me.

You are the reason I’m alone, frightened of other people because all along I have only known you. You’re horrible but you’re all I have; all I know is the certainty that every day you will be there.
I look at you now; when I put my hands up, you put up yours. We touch palms, and I hate you, I don’t want to touch you, but I do because you’re the only one there to hold me up.
I wish you weren’t real.
I wish you were somebody else.
I wish you weren’t just my reflection.

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