All of the girls inside me have doves in their eyes but none of them will talk to each other. The youngest ones draw hearts on the headstones with blue sidewalk chalk. The one in seventh grade smokes even though it burns her lungs and makes her hair smell like Sarah’s mom’s gross boyfriend. They’re his cigarettes.
Some girls sit with their backs against the headstones, reading plays and writing lyrics on the bodies of their guitars. Some lie on top of the graves, perched on their elbows, limbs sprawled. Girl limbs. It’s casual. They write in their notebooks and listen to heartsick songs through complimentary headphones.
It’s an overcast day like it always is. Sweater weather. But today is different because one of the headstones starts moving. One girl was buried in a grave and no one noticed. The dirt of her grave cracks and crumbles and with a jolt, a miry fist clenching a bouquet of wilted flowers shoots out.
The buried girl claws and climbs her way out of her grave. She spits out the earth and howls a feral requiem. She scares the doves right out of her eyes. All of the complimentary headphones break. She storms through the cemetery, clutching her funeral bouquet, screaming small words like “no” and “stop.” But the word that cracks her throat open the most isn’t a word, it’s a number. She is nineteen years old and always will be. She wails the number nineteen so violently, it leaks out of her eyes. The tears are thick like tar but it isn’t tar, it’s strawberry lipgloss. Strawberry lipgloss floods out of her eyes, streaking her cheeks and chest. Sticky, abominable, undeniably hers. Glittery globs of pink pulse from her nose. It shoots out of her ears like cotton candy syrup. She vomits buckets of strawberry luster. The lower holes of her body, meant for pleasure and necessity and everyone has them, you slide life through, it’s not a big deal — those holes burn and gush with the stuff. Even the trendy naval incisions she thought were closed, ooze pink, shimmering, droplets. She painfully excretes and explodes every drop of strawberry lipgloss that was inhumed in her. Now she is as pure as she is filthy. She is risen in a way that would anger some people.
Every girl in the graveyard gazes at her, squinting through their doves, aching to see her transfiguration. They aren’t afraid of her, they want to be with her. She casts a spell J.K. Rowling would be proud of and all of the doves leave their eyes. They see her. They see each other. It’s a miracle. They had the same eyes the whole time. Her funeral bouquet begins to bloom. They all grab handfuls of the strange, new, blossoms and litter the cemetery with petals. It is better than a wedding.
Nineteen opens the cemetery gate and they all walk out onto West 11th street, talking and holding hands. All but Nineteen and the oldest, Thirty-one. They stay. There are no doves in their eyes, there are riots.
There was a young man in Nineteen’s grave with her. It was almost romantic. Almost. His time is up. It is time for him to be disposable.