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The Summer of the Dancing Queen: A Story of Identity

Life.Exe by crossedxx

content note: self-harm

I’m six years old. I tumble softly in damp grass, turning cartwheel after cartwheel
and pretending I’m on my own personal Ferris wheel. My dog runs beside me. Later,
when dusk falls over the sky like a lavender haze, we venture through corn fields and
she knows she can run faster than me but she stays by my side. At six years old, I
declare her my best friend. She dies five years later.

I’m three years old, sitting at the kitchen counter of our new house. The counter top is green, it’s smooth and then it’s rough and then it’s smooth again. “We need to go to the food bank”, I hear my mother say on the phone. But a bank is for money and food is from the grocery store. I learned later that day about food banks and stamps. The world is a strange place, I thought.

I’m thirteen years old and I think I’m tired. I come home from school every day and I write hundreds of words and stories and rants and I’m angry but I don’t know who I’m angry at. I’m angry at the world, I think. I later learn that’s called angst. I heard that smoking cigarettes is committing suicide for procrastinators. I take up smoking cigarettes because that’s what the handsome boys do.

I’m twelve years old and someone I love almost dies. I find her on the bathroom floor having a seizure. At the hospital I hear words like “suicide” and “overdose” and “she might not recover”. I can’t understand what happened but I know what it’s like to want everything to stop hurting for a while. I learn in therapy that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I had never thought much about solutions, only problems.

I am twelve and a half years old and my parents set up a play date for me because I have a hard time making friends. We make some mistakes that day and when her Dad comes to pick her up, I feel inside I won’t be seeing her again. My idea
of friendship is tainted. I miss my dog.

I’m thirteen years old and I meet a boy at a bonfire. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes like the other boys but he’s handsome. He takes me to an expensive coffee shop on the first date. I’d never been somewhere they charge more than $3 for a drink. He doesn’t kiss me at the end of the night and I come to terms with the fact he doesn’t like me. Boys kiss you if they like you, and they do more if they love you. I’m disappointed. I’m twelve years old and I think I hang around the wrong people. It’s 6am and we’re sitting outside smoking cigarettes. A much older boy with brown eyes and brown hair laughs at me when I don’t inhale properly. Suddenly I’m self-conscious of a habit I took up to impress people. I think that says a lot about me. When he kisses me later, I feel a sense of validation. My habit serves a purpose.

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