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Teens & Young Adult Coming of Age Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of sexual violence.

TW/CW: Contains themes of implied assault/rape


My breasts come in at twelve, and so,

I write my obituary.

Certain that I won’t make it to see the ripe age of 18. 

The librarian asks me why

I need books about 


Death

and

Dying.

At such 

a young age.


"Do you have cancer?”

"No. I. Just. Don't. Have. Long.”

Of that I feel certain–-

but my mother says that feelings aren’t facts and I wonder if she’s right.

If it feels warm outside, who decides the difference between balmy and pleasant?

Or is it a fact once my skin becomes adust and filled with heat?


I should probably choose my outfit for the proper burial I’ll be given. 

Overalls, denim.

Roseate velour scrunchie.

Socks most certainly mismatched.

A bra? I’ll be dead. 

But just in case, I make note of the demi cup with the eyelet lace fabric.

Because the devil is in the details.


A girl is born with certainty in her bones

An entire musculoskeletal system that holds her together.

If the pelvis is a basin that

Holds and protects.

My sexual organs– to keep them as one

Support their freedom of movement, then surely

My backbone is deplete of the very calcium it needs to stand tall. 


But for the sake of this conversation, everything is fine.


My hips round at age fourteen, and so, 

I edit my obituary. 

Uncertain that I will make it to age 16.

My teacher asks me why I write papers about


Love. 

and.

Hate.

At such

a young age.


“Did someone break your heart?”

“No. I. Just. Don’t. Have. The. Bones. To. Protect. It.”

Of that I feel certain--

But my teacher says that feelings aren’t facts and I wonder if he’s right.

If my deathbed overalls are too tight, who decides the difference between being fat and holding water weight?

Or is it a fact once the funeral director asks for something that doesn’t show all my curves?


I should probably change my outfit for the proper burial I’ll be given. 

Sundress, for access.

Kelly-green banana clip.

Sandals, the kind that go between the toes.

A bra? I’ll be dead. 

But just in case, I make note of the one with the hook in the front.

Because the devil loves the details.


I’m less of a girl now as pain replaces minerals in the pockets of my bones

“But it has pockets!!”

Means something entirely different when it’s not about: What was she wearing?


I’m not certain of how I will die,

But I do know what will kill me.


Seeking

Validation.

From others.


I am unsure of myself,

So I leave it to the others to tell me.

A jury of my peers will rate me:


They.

Know.

Better.

(Than I do.)


I could die by an anomaly of the cells in my body,

Or–

By the words of a boy spread across the town. 

This will be my death.

Literally. Metaphorically. It's still a dissolution. Of what I was.

Before.


Certainly, uncertain. 

I’m pretty sure I am.


The devil has been calling me all day.

He has straw colored hair and eyes, ice blue. 

“C’mon, why don’t you show me? I promise to keep it between us.”


He doesn't announce himself, he simply arrives.      

The devil’s voice is rich and,    

has the cadence that falls in line         

with the pumping of my unprotected heart.


Thump.

Thump.

Thump.


I catch my breath,      

because what does a devil like him     

want with a girl like me?      

Gasp. Breathe. I hold my breath. 

The answer drains me of nutrients.     


I am a cherry, shiny and red.

Will I pop?


But the call comes in at night for no one to hear but me.

The trilling that pierces my ears–   


Sharp. 

Lingering.    

Echo.    

Oh. Oh. Ohhh.


His hot breath aerates through the receiver

“Baby girl, let me.”

Waiting.

Because the devil is always waiting–

for me to offer up a confession.


“I won’t do it, I'll tell you that much.”

I am certain that if my body needed to confess, 

It’s not to this devil.

Wrong deity. 


I never hang curtains over my bay window. 

I want.

To be.

Seen.

In hopes I can see someone in return.


“Look,” the devil commands.

And so my eyes do, down, 

into eyes of ice blue.

I wave, because I've been told to be nice

And I want my headstone to say,

“She was kind to everyone she ever met.”  


But the devil–

Never waves. 

He presses.

My body.


He is my undoing.

The domino that pushes all of the other dominoes over–

Click. 

Click. 

Click. 


The Devil knows the curve of–

My breast.

And the dimple on–  

My hip bone.


And the scar from my appendectomy which–  

Hurt far less,      

than dying 

now. 


Because without fail, I will die if he doesn’t,    

Admire me.

Long for me. 


Is this what happens to flowers when they wilt?

My mother calls to me, her dying bouquet of flowers.


“Darling, you’re beautiful to look at.”


Dried flowers–

crumble, Mother.

Get pressed.

Between pages.


A yearbook of memories for the entire school to see. 

They’ll remember that I am simply a remnant. 

That I am no longer-

Good. 

Rooted in soil.  

Alive. 


And so, my obituary will read–

Here lies a girl who started dying,  

All too soon.


Next to her stacks of books, still unprepared.

She wasn’t ready.

The chapters went so fast.

There were words and techniques misunderstood.


That a wave could be interpreted as an invite.

Dog-eared and highlighted, 

And cross referenced for potential– Cause of death.



My scar is still tender at age seventeen, and so,

I finalize my obituary. 

Knowing that I haven’t made it to the ripe age of 18.


The doctor asks me why

I tell stories about

Pain

and

Suffering.

At such

a young age.


“Did someone hurt you?”

“No. Yes. Maybe? I. Just. Don’t. Remember.”

Of that I feel certain–

But my doctor says that feelings aren’t facts and I wonder if he’s right.

If the marks on my skin are not enough to make a report, who decides the difference between asking for it and consent?

Or is it a fact once the doctor asks me about all of the things that the basin that is my pelvis has done before?


I should probably change my outfit for the proper burial I’ll be given. 

Why am I in his hoodie?

A gown that opens in the back.

Hospital grippy socks.

A bra? I am dead.


But just in case, I make note of the smell that I am doused in from his hoodie that I woke up in.

Because the devil creates the details.


With the same certainty I was born with,


To kill a girl like me, 

It’ll take a–   

A Devil like you.


May 10, 2022 01:53

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51 comments

Michał Przywara
21:13 May 12, 2022

Lovely! Beautiful and ugly. (Story and subject matter, respectively.) There's a very powerful voice here, and I think the format gives it immense strength. The repetition, the phases of life, the choppy phrases. The poetic structure wouldn't work everywhere, but it's a good foundation here. All the time I was reading it I felt vaguely alarmed, and I couldn't quite place my finger on why. There's a sense of fatalism here, of being trapped (in the situation, in the role, in other people's expectations). Or maybe doomed, since we're heading ...

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Shea West
23:07 May 12, 2022

Michal, I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not... but there's a whole group of us Reedsian's that obsess over your comments on our stories. Like your comments are just the damn best and so appreciated, and I'm not entirely sure you're wholly aware of how much it means to us! So, thanks so much! I think you just wrote a 4 paragraph dissertation on what I tried to convey here. I meant it to be fast and alarming. I hoped that people would feel empty and hell, even angry. Because society tells women and girls to look a certain way and be...

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Zack Powell
23:25 May 11, 2022

There's a feeling that I got after reading this that's very difficult to put into words. I came to the end of the story and read the last line and just stared at my computer screen for two whole minutes, trying to process how I feel. I guess, if I had to assign a word to the feeling, I'd choose "emptiness." Just so you know, that's not a bad thing at all. I always say that stories should make you feel something, and "emptiness" is definitely "something." But damn, this was Heavy (capital H). Before anything else, kudos to you for doing a na...

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Shea West
23:47 May 11, 2022

So I've tried this narrative structure one time before in my story 33, 19, 17. It was a bit more story-like, but fun to write all the same. After I finished writing this I felt a bit nervous like it might be too much for some... Then I reminded myself who the eff I am, and pressed submit anyway hahahaha Seriously, your comments are worth their weight in gold. I don't need other people to tell me if it's good or interesting or okay, but it's nice to hear all the same. The feedback makes me keep trying to do things outside of the box. Yeah...

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Deidra Lovegren
00:55 May 12, 2022

Keep out of the box. Erase the lines. Do all the Spiro-graphing you want. It works. It's brilliant.

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Shea West
01:02 May 12, 2022

Thank you Deidra!! Your encouragement means more than you know

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Deidra Lovegren
01:18 May 12, 2022

🥹

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Thom Brodkin
00:14 May 11, 2022

Shea this took a lot of guts to write. It was outside the box and boarders on prose. It made me uncomfortable and it made me think and feel. I know you called this a palette cleanser but it had to be so much more than that. It felt like you were bearing your soul. Great job. I see such growth in your writing and I was already a big fan.

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Shea West
04:34 May 11, 2022

It just felt like some power needed to be unleashed, you know what I mean? Us women are taking a beating currently 😔 This will probably bomb for many, but I'm proud of it all the same. Thanks for seeing me Thom, in my writing and otherwise❤️

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K. Antonio
11:25 May 10, 2022

Uuuuu. Very quickly, I like the allusions and the illusions of this story. My favorite snippet was the part about the dominoes, but there were a lot of good lines throughout the entire piece. I enjoyed how you created tension, and how you interwove the act of dying with the MC's interactions with other people in her life (her mom, the librarian, the teacher, etc). I also like how in a way, if I'm interpreting the story correctly, the piece starts with the MC at one point of her life and down to another, almost as if she's aging or learni...

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Shea West
12:09 May 10, 2022

That smack was intentional, it's that awareness of "Shit, am I in trouble here?" Or that feeling of, I'm going to break. She does age, and learns quickly that peers/men are the ones quantifying her worth... And it ain't so hot. She learns that men will use her and how they do so well will effect her ability to trust herself.

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Tommy Goround
07:21 May 21, 2022

49 comments already. What can anyone else say except, "this made me want to read more comments so that I wasn't feeling this alone" (Like a good movie). :) What if the last use of devil/details goes: "the devil is in the ____" (Let the reader fill in the last word ; and the people say Amen, A ____). Poignant. I see no less than 3 layers, a few themes left to interpretation (therapist or OBGYN? It says doctor). Love the pacing, poetry that still tells a story; dreads stops on punctuation .like. this. The originality is the opener. Tha...

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Shea West
02:46 May 22, 2022

Tommy, Thanks for giving my piece a read, and even bigger thanks for sharing your words. I appreciate your take on how to change some things up. This is a piece that I worked on a few different times and I feel really good/confident about where I landed with it. As far as the therapist/OBGYN, I'd hoped it was implied that she's at the dr/hospital because she's been assaulted as she wakes up in his hoodie, confused as to why.. So probably an emergency room doc. Thank you again!

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Drew Andrews
13:32 May 20, 2022

Well done... Simply..... Well.

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Shea West
05:13 May 21, 2022

Thank you

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Michelle Sholund
02:26 May 19, 2022

Simply brilliant- word choices, the pace, the imagery with the clothes! Kudos!

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Shea West
03:35 May 19, 2022

Thank you Michelle☺️

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Seán Mc Nicholl
21:45 May 15, 2022

Wow, loved this! It was beautifully contorted, and given the sinister subject it was a perfect fit I think. I loved the repetition, the disjointed thoughts. The questioning of the person and the “is it a fact” really fit the underaged nature. Brilliant, loved it! Thank you

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Shea West
22:38 May 15, 2022

Thank you very much, that means a lot

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14:30 May 15, 2022

I loved the cadence of the story and how the young woman reflected on her life as it happened. Many great lines in this story to focus on :) Subtle and powerful at the same time. It's a bit of a stretch with the prompt but close enough (speaking as a judge). Well done!

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Shea West
14:33 May 15, 2022

Thanks- She wakes up in his sweater, so I felt like that was within the prompt request ☺️ Appreciate the read and feedback!

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14:41 May 15, 2022

Ah yes, that's it. Sometimes you gotta read the story more than once or twice when the connection is so subtle. It's a solid story. The cadence is spot on for me :)

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Shea West
14:59 May 15, 2022

All good☺️☺️

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Jay Mc Kenzie
20:24 May 14, 2022

Wow. This is extremely powerful. Unsettling, yes, but important. I agree with Hannah that this would be magnificent as a spoken piece. The voice and structure are perfectly crafted for this piece, and, hard as it can be sometimes to give thought to this topic, I couldn't stop reading. Some standout lines: "Look,” the devil commands. And so my eyes do, down, into eyes of ice blue." I got shivers. "She wasn’t ready. The chapters went so fast.'

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Shea West
21:00 May 14, 2022

Jay, Thank you. You all are giving me some comfort in knowing that what I posted was necessary and heard. It means a lot to me. I've been real cranky at the state of the USA nation this past week...If you can't tell! Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts.

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Beth Connor
17:53 May 13, 2022

Shea, I love your voice in this. That is all...

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Shea West
19:06 May 13, 2022

😘😘😘

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A.G. Scott
19:23 May 12, 2022

I thought this was thoughtful, structured in an interesting manner, and ultimately poignant. Other people mentioned this, but all the different adult figures being well-meaning but useless was a highlight for me. How can she phrase what's happening to her in a way that they would understand (and SHE would understand)? Poetry is a natural and powerful choice to allow her to express both the feeling and the frustration at not being able to express the feeling clearly. Hard for me to offer anything useful re: a poem, but there are some lines h...

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Shea West
19:55 May 12, 2022

Those are good suggestions, and you make valid points. That does read stronger than the way I have it. Thanks for the kind feedback A.G. Nice to see you back writing here more again!

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L. Maddison
13:21 May 12, 2022

I'm captivated by this, Shea. I keep reading it over and over feeling like I'm climbing down a ladder and can't reach the bottom. The fragmented format tells a story of its own. The words are tragic and beautiful.

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Shea West
13:32 May 12, 2022

That's a good analogy for it... Climbing a ladder all the way down with no end in sight. Thanks for reading!

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Rama Shaar
09:42 May 12, 2022

I have goosebumps all over! Great style and shocking in its rawness and realness.

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Shea West
12:27 May 12, 2022

Thanks for stopping by and reading Rama!

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Scott Skinner
05:45 May 12, 2022

This was beautiful. I liked the use of the hyphen in certain parts. I like 'get pressed between pages' as a dig too :)

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Shea West
12:28 May 12, 2022

Thanks a bunch!

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Deidra Lovegren
00:54 May 12, 2022

And you are a poet as well. Of course you are. (What can't you do?) Just searing and elegant. 1 in 4 girls, 1 in 6 boys. Grossly underreported. Scars for life. Your words speak for those of us who know.

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Shea West
00:59 May 12, 2022

Me too friend, me too. ❤️❤️❤️

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17:47 May 10, 2022

Shae this would be AMAZING as spoken word it was a beautiful, painful, all too relatable journey thank you for writing this thank you being honest and raw if I could "like" this more than once, I would <3

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Shea West
18:48 May 10, 2022

I'm considering doing it as spoken word! I'm glad you had that takeaway❤️

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J.C. Lovero
14:03 May 10, 2022

Hi Shea! Kudos for the unique format. I am no poet, but if this is poetry, hats off to you (I have no idea what it is if not poetry lolol). The tone was dark and delicious. Really gave me goosebumps at certain points!

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Shea West
17:47 May 10, 2022

I'm no poet either! I think it feels like a more abrupt prose where it is half story and half poetry??? Poetry? More like Oh, Noetry🤣🤣 Thanks for the love all the same.

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11:41 May 10, 2022

Beautiful and perfect. I loved this, it's probably now my new favourite story on here. Amazing job!

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Shea West
12:05 May 10, 2022

Thanks for reading Kate, it's a bit dark, but I'm glad you liked it.

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Riel Rosehill
06:53 May 10, 2022

Ooooh very different format! Is this the poem you mentioned..? I'm not a poetry reader/writer, but this was interesting and I enjoyed the variations on the devil and the details, as well as the feelings aren't facts lines (just how dismissive in this context, poor girl!) and her making notes "just in case" I'll leave the technical comments to those who know what they are talking about because I have no clue, but I enjoyed unwrapping this girls story in this format.😃 PS: I can't believe you actually managed to write enough words for a Reedsy...

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Shea West
12:16 May 10, 2022

Thanks Riel, It's a gamble or rather just words on a page which is good enough for the goal for me this week I suppose. I'd had about 560 words of this written already, so adding to it wasn't too terribly difficult. I'm glad you caught the difficulties in which the girl had to make adjustments, just in case. It's a feeling as a self identifying woman that I've felt for a long time.

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