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Letter to the Other Girl

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I am so sorry.
I am…so sorry.
Iamsosorry.

You are only thirteen, with stars in your big, flawlessly lined azure eyes and a sweet little grin on your soft pink lips. You have curls in your long highlighted blonde hair and not a care in the world from your frilly tank top to your perfectly fitted skinny jeans to your fashionable strappy sandals. You are only thirteen with milky skin, puberty toying with your body, not fully submerging you yet.
You, Ashelyn, are beautiful in your innocence.

I was once too thirteen. I am now sixteen, almost seventeen come summer. We are split into different categories of adolescence. You are of fresh curves and true love and crushes and hearts doodled on notebook paper in math class. I am of AP classes and college applications and black coffee during an all-nighter, of serious relationships because I’m beginning to look for what I want in a person to marry one day.
We do not know each other. We are from different cities, different schools, different churches, different counties—the only stepping stones we have between one and other is our state…
And Stephen.

He is the bridge between our hearts, the scarlet letter on our lips scrawled in haphazard, sweet calligraphy.

When I heard your voice on the phone, shaking and attempting bravado, I wanted to cry. You coaxed me into the fire of the truth when even I wanted to hide in my dark corner of bliss.

My friends who have been “cheated on” all felt a fiery slapdash of bright red revulsion for the “s***” who stole their boyfriend’s heart. My emotions tried to sway and lure me into this belief, but I cleared my eyes and saw what really happened.

You were you. You didn’t steal anything—it was given to you in a lovely package, ripe for the taking. You did exactly what thirteen year olds do—you texted him, called him, tried to gain his attention, idolized him until he became a gilded angel in your eyes, that idyllic first love. No one is blaming you, Ashelyn. It is not your fault. You wished and hoped and for a brief month or so, your dreams came true and your prayers were answered.

You did not know of me, living my life happily an hour away, consumed by school and work and most of all, by Stephen. My Stephen.
No. Our Stephen.

He was five foot eleven inches of muscled limbs and tousled brown hair. He had the sort of hazel eyes that were rings of ruddy copper, fresh green, soft amber, all spinning and cart wheeling into a long lashed exhibit that made your head spin and your knees weak. He was skinny jeans and a soft worn t-shirt, a compassionate smile. Stephen is the sort of boy who will listen to you rant and scream and cry and stuff your face with Ben and Jerry's ice cream and still love you the next day. He smiled often, made good grades, and was sweet, caring — perfect. Too perfect. I should have known.

They give you the guide to crushes. They tell you what to expect in relationships. They tell you to not get pregnant and use a condom and never take any crap because you’re worth more than that. They tell you how to deal with a break up and move on.

But no one prepares you for the moment your world falls away in sparkling shards of crystal, all fragile and tumbling into a brilliant cacophony that steals your train of thought and spills onto your heart in a mind numbing, cutting pain.

I was not prepared for this.

And so here I am gawking at this gaping hole in my chest where my heart used to be, where this dark lump of deadened, unfeeling tissue sits pumping away. It pumps, but I find no pleasure in it anymore, this heart, and this life.

You told me it would get easier.

You told me to block it out and forget—but he pressed that word to my skin in butterfly kisses that swept me up and around and around…
Forget…Forget…Forget…

And I almost can’t.

Stephen is the purple blue mirage your eyes coax up after staring at a bright light for too long, one that dances mesmerizingly in your vision, refusing to disappear.

Stephen is that scandalous read prom dress laying all crumpled up on my floor, a reminder that I don’t need.

Stephen was my secret, my confidant, my best friend. And now, he just…

Isn’t.

I admire you for moving on. I admire your courage, and telling me the truth. I admire you in general, because you’re everything I wasn’t at your age—mature, beautiful, soft, quiet. I had to grow into my personal beauty and confidence, but you are one of the rare few who are given their grace at an early age. Treasure it.

Take care of yourself. Stay smart, and stay you. This too shall pass.

I only wish I could follow my own advice.

Lots of Love,
The Girlfriend



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