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Rose sat in her room.
She took a long breath and stood, facing the window to the east, watching the light touch the world. She raised her fingers to match the streams of light, examining the little wrinkles there.
She scowled at her torn cuticles.
She pulled her long brown hair from her ponytail, watching it fall in a beautiful, polluted river down her back. She pulled off her shirt, examined her chest, scowled at its size. She scowled a lot nowadays.
She stripped down to her underwear, and stood in front of her mirror, the tainted orange light casting beams from the silver surface onto her body. She scowled at the love handles. She scowled at her thighs, which touched, and her neck, which wasn’t long enough. She remembered herself a few years before, when a pot belly meant nothing, when there weren’t any other girls to compare breasts with, because no one had them. She scowled.
Rosie always had background music at the ready for any event.
She would hold up her iTouch, glinting in all its Apple glory, and click on her Background Music for Life playlist, and we’d all listen. We’d all stand around her in a little circle and agree on whether or not the song was just right for the time. I think she liked that—being in the middle. Being loved for a talent, no matter how insignificant.
This morning, she took out her iTouch, and scrolled through her playlist. And she couldn’t find a song. Her face got tense, plucked eyebrows furrowing almost together completely. It was as if they would fuse.
Her dimples came out as she pursed her lips, sniffed once, and stopped scrolling. She turned back to the mirror, looked at the body that caused her scowl, and she calmly raised her arm, drew back with a precision earned from years of softball, and threw the iTouch at the mirror.
There is a beauty in the shattering of anything. Especially figurative shattering. Those have the most prose. Rosie saw her face magnified hundreds of times at the shards fell. She felt special then. She was in control. It was like when she burned herself. Those times she was in control too.
She was in control of the match—god knows she was. She would strike it, and watch the fire listen to her. Her will was a song, the fire danced to it. She imagined the song was Indian; that it jumped through beats and soaring vocals. She liked the idea of visual sound. And the sound in her heart was fire. Anger and heat and love and pain all at once. And that sound was sitting in her fingers.
She liked the idea of tangible sound as well. So she burned herself.
Burning left scars. She made sure they were concealed because that leftover sound…the kind that didn’t escape into the atmosphere, it was hers. And someone would try to take it and mold it into what she knew they thought the scars were: an emotional imbalance. But there was a perfect balance in fire. You hear your song, you see it. You create it. You strike the match. And the fire takes some skin in return, leaves what’s left all puckered and pink. It leaves it much more special than the surrounding cells. And it proves that the body is working. So Rosie scarred herself.
Rosie had a boy in her room.
He was the boy that most girls would go for. Tall, cute—mostly. Blonde. Blue eyed. And he was trying to take advantage of Rosie.
She fought for background music. I saw it in the way her eyes worked. I saw it in the set of her jaw line as they kissed, the shifts in her balance as she separated herself from his advances. A song came to her when he stopped and looked her in the eyes, but vanished as soon as he grabbed her chest.
The silence burned into her mind—more so than the sound that she burned into her skin. So Rosie pushed him away.
All was electronic that night. All Facebook and Myspace and Twitter. All relationship statuses and mixed comments. And all was gossip about her and the boy. And soon Rosie had more enemies than friends.
Rosie sat alone at lunch.
She watched her ham sandwich as if it was telling her the history of Kenya. She combed the tomatoes with her eyes as if they had answers. She pushed away her food. There was no sound there. The lack of sound would hurt her more—the deprivation of food would lose her those love handles. She smiled.
A small boy came to sit with her. She looked up at him. Awkward. Skinny. And gay, undoubtedly. He looked up under his brows at her, and offered his hand. Two loners talking. She found a song that would match him almost immediately, and she gained a new friend. Robert.
Sometimes the smallest miracles are the ones that count.
Rosie was dying her hair black.
A trip to Hot Topic, a nod from her gay friend, a deep breath and latex gloves.
She was new. But entirely worse than the old model.
Rosie was standing on the bridge over the river, making her way to the edge to look at her reflection.
Shards of glass were painted into her makeup. There were pictures and ink forever imbedded in her skin. Now the sound that came with the ink—with the pain that the ink had initially caused, had words that could be seen. They were all song lyrics and guitar strings and harmonicas. And she liked that. She liked being “deep”.
She liked her circle on the beach at nighttime, the boys with the hits and the joints and the girls with the crop tops and fishnet. She liked the bonfire—the sound so magnified by the people sitting around the fire. She liked that she had new songs to add to her duct taped, cracked and police-lined iTouch. These songs were screaming. The music was angry and hateful and pained, and she liked it. It matched her heartbeat and gave her a track to play on—her own personal vinyl record for life.
Rosie was older. Just about to graduate, to go to community college and a road trip with her latest best friend—Jewel. Jewel was figurative and good at getting sober quickly. Always the designated driver but never the one to turn down a drink. Plus she was sobering. She had big ideas and big boobs and Rosie envied her.
Jewel liked Rosie too, but more as a lackey. And the skinny gay guy that followed Rosie always looked sad. He refused to get studs and tattoos and get high. He was indefinitely uncool, and Rosie knew. He still had all the prose and all the poetry in his mind where she only lived from one experience to the next. He kept journals. She kept a jackknife.
Parties where Rosie got drunk usually ended in tears and a hug from her gay friend. But one day in September she ran for him and he wasn’t there.
He was in college. On the East coast.
Rosie cursed and took another hit. She followed Jewel away from his front door.
Rosie couldn’t find her iTouch.
Rosie found her gay friend again, living in New York with a designer boyfriend and ten grand saved from his poetry days. Now he was a writer. Living in a loft overlooking Manhattan and Rosie had a cardboard box on the street and one white platform boot.
Rosie tried to knock on his door. She tried to ask for her music and her friend back. But she lost those and she knew that some things you can’t ask for again once you’ve lost them.
So Rosie scowled and walked away.