Back to Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 12, 2012
I never knew what life was until she came. My words pushed people away. My days were spent talking of life as if it were some dead thing that interested me in only the most abstract way. I was just a shell filled with what others said. A sheep they could lead anywhere they wanted.

I filled my head with lies. I could believe, “I wasn’t lonely. I didn’t need love.” She saw through my lies. I resisted as her hands tried to pull me back into life. I was incapable of love. I would just hurt her. Her lips kept asking, but I couldn’t understand. “No” was the only word I knew. She kept asking.

The first week I looked at myself. What did she see? My eyes were their same dull color. My hair went in as many different directions as it always had. I could still hear her words. Why did she love me? My heart jumped. I wanted to know. Her face lost all color as I said, “Yes.”

As I sat in the back row with my arm around her (a move copied from some movie half-remembered), I could see what the couple on-screen saw in each other’s eyes. I can still remember the moment when we said our good-byes. The soft glow from the porch light. The way our lips fumbled together. Her eyes as they sparkled while she gradually drifted away. I would sell my soul to live this moment again. Her soft giggle as her dad’s voice called her in will always haunt me.

The world that greeted me the next day wasn’t the same one I’d lived in for 17 years. Something had changed as I danced home. The world was softer. Safer. She taught me to listen. I could feel what I had tried to ignore my whole life. For the first time, I could talk of myself. My mind started racing. If she could care for me so deeply, what about others? My family. My friends. I began to give back the love I felt. I caught myself smiling the other day. I’ll probably try it again.

Before I thought of love as some dead thing that could never affect me. My words would protect me. She helped topple my house of lies. I know what love is. I can understand what life is. She taught me more than any book ever could. I know who I am. I never knew what life was until I met her.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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