Second Place: “Just Breathe”

Posted on: September 17, 2015
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By Brandon-Marie Bigard
[Fiction, Based on a True Story]
Stare into the mirror, hearing words slice like knives. Know you aren’t accepted, aren’t wanted; That this cruelty is normal in middle school.
Now breathe.
Listen and write, talk and sing. Push through the words, through the pain. Push through the fact this is the second time you came so close to ending your life.
Listen. And sing.
You’ll get over this. Just like when you were left in only a shirt after violation. Just like when your mother claimed she was tired of caring about your feelings. Just like when a friend back-stabbed you. You’ll get over this, and come from the ashes stronger.
Now smile.
Two decades have passed, you realize hazily as you look at your best friends dance and laugh. Two decades of living through name calling and horrible happenings; Of cruelty and social abandonment; Of cruel words slicing into you while you stare into the mirror waiting for the bloody wounds to appear.
You look into the mirror and see yourself smile. The words can’t wound you anymore, and if they do they’ll heal. You rise, looking at the mirror and admiring how easy it is for the light to come into your eyes now. You are not normal, you don’t fit in, but that is how you want it to be.
You close your eyes again and will the image of your younger self to appear. The one that looked blankly at their reflection with self-hatred and sorrow. You send love and hope towards that image, so long ago, willing happiness into that past self, making the image soften their face, smile and walk away.
Now breathe.


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