Liv, 9th - Oakland, CA
The oak wood-stained piece of glass hangs to the left of me as I take a deep breath and step into an ever-repeating destiny of looking in and seeing…and seeing..her. Her hair doesn’t abide, and she’s got legs too strong. Her torso’s not an hourglass, and those legs? Way too long. And her nose doesn’t look like those she views on her cell. Her cell of a body she’s trapped in and has nobody to tell. And she spends hour after hour with the brushes and the blushes because she thinks without it, nobody gushes over her non-apparent beauty. So she spends dollar after dollar making herself enough because she cannot go an affirmation in the mirror without a tear because it’s just a soundwave of noise and a forgotten voice who doesn’t trust herself.
So she goes to the beauty store where every product is sold out because every girl wishes to be another girl who goes to the store to be the other girl who wishes she wasn’t in this world but nobody knows that. Because the limited lipstick enforces a smile on her lips that fools everyone. Except her. But we’ll move back to the girl in the reflection, who struggles to love, every compliment, another deflection. To the girl in the mirror who refuses a plate, because the diet she saw said that maybe this tender steak would make her look bigger so now she has to fake that she is full when she is starving. She is told she no longer acts like herself anymore, but she doesn’t remember herself anymore, as she survives on autopilot which everyone can easily ignore.
So she lives on, apologizing for her wrongs with I'm sorry! Sorry! Sorry! She lives for validation of her own creation, growing up quickly with the sole fixation on other people loving her. Just as she cannot love herself. Easy. she shaves her body hair for you because even though it doesn’t bother her it’s your skin right? She styles hair every morning even though it doesn’t matter to her it’s your hair, right? And she’s too tired to fight this fight because she will never be perfect in this world’s light. If nothing else, she’s enough for you. She is perfection if only she knew. Layers upon layers of makeup, and abundant coily hair. Good morning mirror, I glance up. Who is she in there?
B.Loza, 10th- Livermore, CA
Lying on the cold floor was surprisingly comfortable compared to the living hell the last few months had been. All seemed chaotic until I fell into a dark limbo where stars were the only light source. Sometimes a hazy dream feels more like a comforting memory of the future that makes you long for that reality. In a blink of an eye, my whole world changed and all I could see was the dim single light bulb hanging from the concrete ceiling. Once I got to my knees my conscience could once again feed my crippling thoughts. In a faraway land, in which time and day has no meaning, I found myself in some type of dark and cave-like facility. There were two upwards glass and almost dystopian cases before me. In one of the delicate cases was a boy around my age.
One look and I was struck by something so intangible and unexplainable like an electric charge. He was beautiful not necessarily in the physical sense, but the mystic air dancing around made me feel intrigued. He seemed so familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. After breaking away from the static tranz that I found myself in, I took a glance at the neighboring case that seemed to house a boy named Joey that I had meant in real life. I felt a bit unsettled by this fact and after a bitter second, my attention was fully turned to the unfamiliar boy that had distinctive brown curls. He looked of Jewish descent, and his skin was almost majestic. His eyelids were shut and decorated with curved long eyelashes that reflected the light coming from the single light bulb. Perhaps the most captivating physical attributes he possessed were a pair of dark chocolate and transparent black eyes.
A true blessing to stare into those eyes and get lost in their stars and constellations. As if by nature, my handset out to reach him, and in a spin of a coin reality disappeared. We were transported together to poverty-ruled land with many relative faces of my cousins, Aunts, and children that I could not pinpoint. Conversation between us flowed easily in a dialect of half words and half telepathy. We laughed a thousand times, teased each other a million times, and had verbal connections a billion times. The exact words are completely insignificant, but the way those words made us feel was life-changing in every sense. I picked a name for that special wacky boy, Orion. Just like the extraordinary constellations that guard us against above, he was an experience. He was my soulmate.
Lee, 12th - United Kingdom
Hello! I see you up there, you know.
Hanging about near the mildewed vent
A dark spindly smudge against the white tile.
Sure, I could leap up from the water.
Leave a frantic track of soap suds in my wake
As I slam the bathroom door and shout -
‘I’ll never go in there again!
What if it pounces, what if it bites me?
What if there are more hiding in the corners?’
Or I could threaten you uselessly with a shampoo bottle
As the bubbles disappear and the water goes cold
And I worry you’ll slip out of sight.
And you know, maybe some other days
It’s easy to forget sometimes,
That even with your gangly, spangly legs
Your thick tickling hairs
Your clickering mandibles that whisper soft fears
That you can’t really hurt me.
So here’s what I’ll do.
Later, when my hair is drying,
I’ll gather you up into a glass.
Smile at you as I carry you downstairs
And set you gently down in the garden
As I wonder how you ever could have seemed so big.
But right now, I’ll stay where I am.
Sink down into the soft, warm water,
Close my eyes
Students 6th-12th Grades