by Mikayla C., 16

When I see myself on tv
I see all the possible ways I could die
Cracked bones in the cradling of hands
Bullets where butterflies should be
Tearful smiles
But only in the form of permanent goodbyes
I see endings before the beginning has even commenced

See, I
Was a warrior
Could’ve died a million times in the line of combat
Protecting my people

Was a leader
Made sure everyone was fed and clothed and taken care of
Even if it meant I was the one hungry and shivering and pale

The first time I fell in love, I forced myself to keep it down
Like the rotten food scraps boiling in my stomach from the night before
It was the only meal I had in the past two days but she
She made me forget about the aching in my stomach
Reminded me of the aching in my chest

I averted my eyes whenever she was near
Acted like I could have cared less if she died
Some part of me knew we wouldn’t have worked out

Love, I’ve learned
Is death
For us

Her ex-boyfriend will survive a knife through the heart
But I
I died from a stray bullet

I only allowed myself to fall when I knew my people were protected
When I knew I could be the only one hurt
I was as selfless as they come
I never allowed myself to be happy
But she convinced me that sometimes
Life has to be about more than just surviving

Don’t we deserve better than that?

I never found the strength to answer her
Maybe we do, I say as a bullet digs its way into my stomach
Maybe we do, I say between gasps of air
Maybe we do, I say as I choke on my own blood
Maybe we do, but we don’t

When have we ever been able to breathe?

When she and I finally got together,
I told myself
I’d hold her heart in my hand like a shield
In my other hand, a sword
I would die before letting her get hurt

I guess I got my wish
I know it is selfish
But sometimes I wonder
If I had been a straight boy
If I had been a straight girl
If I just hadn’t been me

I was nothing
but shock value
A plot twist to end all plot twists
I was only worth the amount of viewers I brought in
And once there was cash in everyone’s hands
I no longer had a purpose

See, I’ve seen what happens when you kill people like me
I’ve seen it on Person Of Interest
I’ve seen it on Buffy The Vampire Slayer
I’ve seen it on Smallville
I’ve seen it on Supernatural
I’ve seen it on Sons of Anarchy

See, I know what happens to young girls when their mirrors are shattered
Are the ones who bear the broken glass
erased from the narrative
And over again

You do not matter to the writer

are a simile
You are like the shadows cast by the sky
People only notice you when they’ve been staring at the sun too long

Are a metaphor
You are fresh lead
And used paper bags
And filled-up diaries

Are disposable

Figurative language

Not a real part of the story

Tell me
What message can be salvaged from my broken bones
Written in my own blood

The wisest character in the entire show killed one person and one person only
And that was me
The only gay woman

When I see myself on tv
I have panic attacks
I have to look down at my own hands just to make sure they aren’t dissolving
I struggle
To hide my identity
Inside my small body

When she sees me killed
Her warrior
Not at the blade of a sword or a trained fist
Not at the mouth of a gun truly aimed for me
When my death is an accident
She feels the prick of glass beneath her skin
She will realize
She is only
As big as her ghost
As strong as her coffin
She will realize
That all she’s ever been
Is a plot-twist

And when she turns on the tv
For the millionth time
She will hide herself
Beneath heterosexuality
And social normality
And what society clearly wants

As she stares
And the tv stares back at her

Her only
Hazlet, New Jersey