with a dragon breathing down my neck This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By
You told me,
what matters is us. What matters is that the 24-hour laundromat has yet to close, and that I still have hair left to burn. That my mother will still be there to bake pasta on Tuesdays and warm leftovers on Thursdays, and if the cat comes home then nobody wins or loses.

What matters is that I can still read the alphabet backwards and
remember what four times six is and what I wore on graduation night and
what the smell of alcohol is like when it goes up in flames.

What matters is that I have two kidneys and a family that functions,
that the first sun rises inches from my fingertips and I never have to wake up wondering
where I am, what I’ve become.

You told me,
what I want to know is why. Who picks the people to suffer, and
why.

You told me,
you are so lucky. I tugged your IV twice to let you know that
maybe, I am.

You told me,
I can see the stars through your ceiling, sometimes.

You told me and only me once upon a time,
I want to write and to write and to write and to write and to write. I never want there to come a day where the pen is not the moment and prose is not laboring at my doorstep, demanding entrance to this tea party for two.

I want to be able to make rubber clocks and Styrofoam men out of ugly words for stapled beauty and create and create in virulent waves, and never ever stop being the perpetrator of small but miraculous things. I want to be a stunt double so I can learn how to take risks,
but only for a little while because I can't spare much time. I have plans, the world exists only in small increments.

You said, I sure seem to want a lot of things.
I shrugged at the sterile white walls. I never thought it too much to ask for.

Later, when reality made this dream seem but a distant, discolored smear, you ripped every page of every notebook out and tossed them upwards to the sky,

where it rained bitter white inspiration for months.

(I sought for your ark through the torrential downpour of sunny sheets, but I only found it behind the paramedics in the ambulance drifting away.)

Years later in retrospect you told me with your smile at an angle, what matters is that i tried, right?

You told me,
I’m not a hero. I just don't have the anchors for fears anymore.

I didn't cry in front of you after that, but I still cried. The pencil marks on your skin make note of a growth chart, but I tried my hardest not to outline your veins.

This would be the day that the doctors swarm in by the cult-clothed dozens, all mechanical limbs with screwed-on sympathies and smiling white pretenses. This would be the day,
another notch on my bedpost, another reaper in my shed left to suck me dry.

You told me,
I don't know where or when i lost them, but they're probably all caught up in the swells of someone else's ocean by now.

And all I can think is how can you ever be ready for this.

You told me,
the zebra will come back. The girl will say yes. He’s actually her half-brother. Team D will get lost in the jungle and no,
it's not better than fast food.

You told me,
I’m a mess. I'm a mess I'm a me s s I am a m es s. What's happening to my life?
I said, nothing. Life's happening to you.

You are a static and flavorless lump on the cot when you sleep for a week after that,
dreaming about catfishes to mars and the great illuminated sea.

And sometimes when the nights are longest and the moon is imaginary,
I feel like hope is a false and pointless deviation, but then your fingers tighten in mine
and I remember what matters.

What matters is us.





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This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

monalisa3479 said...
May 13, 2013 at 2:45 am
I love how your piece seems to have a million inside jokes with whomever you're speaking to, yet somehow makes sense to the reader. Really well done.
 
brianj said...
Oct. 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm
It's not too often that I come across a piece that actually makes me think. I mean, seriously, when I read I become a sponge absorbing information but not actually having to try to piece it all together. I congratulate you on creating a piece that gets readers using their minds. Not only did this piece make me think, but the repitition of "what matters" kept those thoughts inside of my mind. For once, they didn't all drain out and scatter. Also, I found myself actually v... (more »)
 
dbehr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 28, 2009 at 9:45 am
I do not even know how to explain how much I love this haha. The way it was written was painful and capitvating and beautiful. I've read it three times haha. Don't stop!
 
random:crazy&insane said...
Sept. 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm
i really liked this writing thing
was it a poem because it really looked and seemed like it
either way it was really good
 
x-Miss_Invisible-x said...
Sept. 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm
Wow.. This is amazing. I love the flow everything, even the more complex words just roll off the tip of my tongue as I read this. You should post more work, maybe next time not as Anonymous.. If You can write something this deep then you need praised in a different way than an indirect thanks... =P
 
Linica said...
Sept. 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm
Wow. This was an amazing piece of writing! I loved your similes and the style of writing you used! I hope to see more written by you.
 
grand master funk said...
Sept. 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm
it was good because your title fit in prefect
 
raevyn_13 said...
Sept. 27, 2009 at 5:48 am
One word: Amazing.
 
swim4chicken said...
Sept. 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm
That was a really pretty entry! I loved the poetic fell and moral value that was within it!
 
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