Little Girls are Born with Outlines
“My friend, you suffer from the misplaced optimism of the doomed.”
You recall being five. Your nanny tells you little girls are special, born with narratives — “makeshift and neat.” She tells you this when you speak with your mouth full. When you come home covered in mud.
One day, as she’s reading you a story about some princess in some far-off land, you realize she meant to say, girls are born with outlines.
You do not resist your outline.
In this story, you are not the hero. You never will be. You are a scapegoat that upholds a system in which you are both objector and object. You both fit and don’t fit. You unravel under the weight of both being and not being.
The boys at school call you morphine.
They say fucking you is like tripping on oxy. They say you’re like the tangerine-flower on the hanging tree, a honey drenched hive with no garden bees. They say you’re underwhelming like a cup of coffee washed out with too much cream.
Every morning you make yourself tea. You leave behind cup rings and water stains on all the counter tops in the kitchen, and on the morning paper. You imagine a world in which your presence is more than a water stain too quick to evaporate.
You dream of lost children in cotton fields and bloody clearings. You dream of burrowing yourself into the soil. You dream of sprouting.
You wake up from these dreams, sweaty. Spend hours in the shower under scalding water desperate to soften your flesh and fall apart — a pile of fat and muscle.
You let him fuck you in the cotton field out back.
You fall into a hyperreality. Humans take on the roles of what they visually consume; for a moment, you forget whether you’re the consumer or the product.
This is existentialism.
You can’t talk yourself into sleep anymore. You can’t cope with open spaces so you avoid minimalism. You avoid looking up at the sky when the city lights shine brighter than the stars. You avoid large bodies of water and subconsciously put barriers between yourself and the things that you want. You eat in excess; you visualize a hole that you’re trying to fill but it just keeps getting deeper.
You remember to breathe.
There’s a boy at school whose skin reminds you of coffee grounds. You imagine he washed up onto the shore 3 centuries ago.
Your brother gets kicked out of school for calling this boy a N**ger, and your grandparents call in, outraged — “he can’t be racist. He’s half black for Christ’s sake.”
Politics work in the favor of those who are privileged. Can you exist in the liminal space that is both privileged and not? You remember this is called passing.
In the spring, everything’s synthetic.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month,” and you feel like a lilac clawing out of dead land.
You remember what your nanny told you about little girls being born with narratives and this calms you.