i’m an actor onstage and off

i. my darling aunt, all rosy cheeks and bright eyes / my sweet aunt, her kind offerings of gifts and love / my favourite aunt, the redness of her cupid bow lips play deceive on me / for a moment after, i believed i tasted sugar on the tip of my tongue / it must have burnt somewhere, somehow, along the way to my taste buds / the darkness is heavy between the gaps of my teeth / my fingers twitch; i want to break the promise / such desires are deep and dangerous, too much so for a 16 year old girl / you’re young, you don’t know what you’re talking about / you’re young, you know nothing compared to her / when she smiles, doesn’t it feel like you’re making someone proud? / for the first time in your life you’re doing it right / (pinky promise, lock fingers with me, tell me you’ll never fall for a girl)

ii. lies roll of my tongue with practiced ease / the shrug and the slight raise of eyebrows, like i’m better / so much better, i am / i’m not / but i fear the unknown and god knows / god knows i’m terrified of rejection, a coward within and on the outside / my skin crawls at the very mention of the word / are you ashamed? / i ask myself this in the corner of the toilet stall, stare at my reflection in the dirtied mirror / my knuckles turn white from gripping the edges of the sink / the cement presses onto the palms of my hands as i struggle to breathe / wonder how many others before me, how many others after me, how many others like me/ how many have been in this exact placement / were they ashamed too? / are you ashamed? / (are you gay?)

iii. the almost silent trill of laughter that follows her words sound sadder than hilarious / i swallow imperceptibly / i’m afraid of divulging the truth / that i have yet to confess to myself / even in the deepest part of my mind, i need to dig / kneel on the ground and push away soil with my hands / watch dirt get stuck underneath my fingernails / before i can admit that no, no, no, you’re wrong / my heart twists and threatens to fall and words implant themselves on the linings of my throat / i want to say fuck it, no / i want to say: you’re the goddamn prettiest person i’ve ever seen / don’t look away but don’t look at me with those eyes / i’m not ready to enter your soul / let me play pretend for a while more / let me play pretend, i want to be a kid / (nah, you’re too pretty to be gay)

iv. someone, please / teach me how to bite back these tall tales that live on the edge of my tongue / that threaten civilians every time a whisper of breath passes by / how to stretch out the hand that i keep inside my pocket / how to take it out and hold hers / teach me to run from the looming storm / to steal the bolts of lightning and make them mine / to light up the dark soul that resides within me / to kill the voice who tells me to keep it all in / because i’m fucking tired / i don’t want to apologize for being anymore / teach me, please / someone, please

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of all the people i’ll love

i am destined to fall in love with a boy who has soft eyes and an even softer heart. his hands will be calloused as he wraps them around mine, but still gentle, always gentle. he will bring me to a nice restaurant for our anniversary and the food will be kind of shit but it’s okay – he’ll make up for it with roses and a personality too charming. he will hold me close even when it’s not cold because he loves the way my head falls to his chest, he’ll press a chaste kiss to my forehead because our heights are just right for each other, he’ll let me rest my legs on his lap because he just wants to be close to me.

i am destined to fall in love with a boy who knows only the rough edges of life. he’ll teach me how to climb walls and how to smoke cigarettes, breathe out smoke through my lips. he’ll wear leather jackets no one likes anymore because he can, and he’ll place them over my shoulders when a cold breeze passes by. he will buy snacks from the nearest convenient store to share on my birthday because the quality of the food is nowhere as important as the way we look at each other. he’ll press his lips against our interlocked hands and promise us a forever before he goes.

i am destined to fall in love with a boy who has never been looked at right. he will not know how to love, but he’ll try, will do anything in his power to learn how to be perfect for me. he will stumble over three words, and his eyes never look straight into mine – but he’ll love me all the same. he will find novels and read them to me when i’m sick, he will shake his head at the ridiculousness of their romance. he’ll tell me that love like that is too cliche. he’ll laugh and tell me that we can make our own cliches. his hands will find their way back into mine.

(i fall in love with a girl i can’t touch. she is gorgeous in every way: her passion, her smile, her voice. she takes my breath away. our hands are close, almost touching, but stopped by an unseen barrier. i’ll try to look subtly but she’ll see – she’ll always see because she watches too. her gaze is both dull and bright as our eyes meet. and then i’ll reach out, wait for the inevitable crash. sometimes trying to hold onto something only pushes you off the axis. sometimes falling in love isn’t right even if it feels right. we will never be close enough, will never last, will never go back home.)