the beauty of shattered glass

by Ella L., 16

when i was younger,
i was obsessed with the ocean
the never-ending magic of the unknown

you remember those days
spent in the backyard castle
or balancing on battered couch cushions
to avoid the living room lava

until one day you decided it was just your carpet
and the castle had the same siding as your dad’s shed

and you moved on.

now most people concern themselves with
“teenage things”
and you see, 
I always wanted to be that girl
to be the one who felt what everyone around her was feeling
to let all of the hormones rush in as the boy with the brown hair swung me around
and we entered our own magical castle built by only our passing breaths 
and heartbeats that refused to stop climbing

i waited for that day
but it never came

i wanted to stay in the ocean
and the magic castle
and keep on balancing above the pit of lava
i didn’t want to lay in the sun,
waiting for it to scorch off each layer of my skin one-by-one
digging my fingers into the sand
until they came up suffocated
i was choking on the very air everyone else 
seemed to breathe
and i couldn’t understand why

i couldn’t understand why parties
seemed to leave me with a weight in my stomach
whether or not i decided to go
as if the feeling of being there was always too much
and i wasn’t enough

and staying home was

too little
too boring
too lonely 

it was always

i should be going
i should be feeling
i shouldn’t be—

still dreaming of fairytale endings that don’t exist

i should 
i shouldn’t

not what i want

and i never understood that either.
that block against the will of my own heart

i thought maybe it was something everyone had
that i wasn’t the only one fighting a side of myself

without triumph

a never-ending battle waged over a war 
never to be won

i thought—
maybe something’s wrong with me
maybe the reason i can’t seem to balance
on the same ground everyone else stands on
maybe why i have to grasp the handle of my life 
while everyone else can just let go
is because i took the wrong road
i’m trying to stand on the wrong ground
i’m not ready to drive that car

i could see so clearly 
how the glass inside of me 
was shattered on the floor 
after too many years of being stomped on
and cast into the shadows

i think i tried so hard to fit into the
same stereotype everyone else around me had
that i never took a step back to realize
how beautiful it was that i couldn’t

that the number of times i smacked the ground
and felt the stretch of my face in ways
that never resembled my heart
were not showing me how i was 

instead they taught me 
that sometimes
the best thing to do with shattered glass is pick up the pieces
and appreciate the way the light makes them glitter

and sometimes
it is better 
to be battered

and it is beautiful
to glitter

when everyone else
is just the same reflection

Wall, New Jersey