What Do You Need?

The knife gleamed to the right of my head. “Die.” She glanced at me, intense but heavy with a burden.

I remember I wanted (and still want) to be good with knife throwing. I wanted to be able to fight, and have the skills of an assassin: quiet, sharp, dangerous, protective, strong.

Every day in 7th grade I wanted to feel strong, so when this girl with blonde hair and blue eyes and bumped nose and curvy body showed up, I knew who she was.

She wasn’t strong and she wasn’t firm. Her identity was like a wave on the ocean, unreliable and yielding.

Most days she wanted to die. Nothing was ever enough, not that she was discontent with what she had, but she felt she had nothing.

One day she cut herself. I think about her and that day. She had the sense to call herself an amateur for using a blunt scissors her first time. That she called herself an amateur at something so hard, so ugly, so disgustingly NOT admirable, I want to


To wrap this hurting girl in an embrace. I know what she needs because I was her. She needs reassurance that her body is perfect and style is what you make it and God has good plans.

She needs a blanket that her mom accidentally knitted 10-feet-too-long. She needs to find her people and get out of a public school’s awful atmosphere. She needs sweet girliepops to hug and and tell her that they’re there for her entire roller coaster. She needs so much but I can’t force it.

She was so sad and so desperate and I think about her. If she… if she could see me now. If she could see my eyes finally shining and my lungs finally laughing and my confidence flowing and my dyed hair growing and my mouth chatting.

But I can’t go back and redo those lonely years so I want to show her now. I’m walking over to her, and she falls to her knees. She’s not pathetic.

She’s tired.

So I touch her cheek and let her cry. I brush her hair back and rub her arms and back gently. Right now, it’s just me and her. Two people, same girl, one understanding.

I start to tell her some. About my best friend and how my life became sun when God led me to homeschool. I speak sweet notings, not nothings.

Nothings aren’t worth noting but notings are worth keeping.

I talk about my first dance and the green dress and sleek limo with snacks inside. Of course I have to mention that the chocolates were half-melted but the company was swell. Excitedly I tell of my effort in school, and maybe a sliver of my perfectionist state in 9th grade.

I whisper my jokes and small pick-up lines. I explain how I picked up the viola and also piano, and how I dyed my hair and took a finance class. Explaining all the good books I wish I could reread for the first time and geeking out to music in front of her.

I can’t be sure she isn’t blocking me out to hold onto pain, since the pain is deceivingly reliable. It’s never left and she knows letting go means stumbling away from its crutch.

I pet her hair until this sweet, sweet girl looks me in the eye bravely. “I’m okay?”

“You’re okay.”

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