Sticks and Stones

2014 Winning Year 9&10 Short Story:
Seren Heyman-Griffiths, Balmain Secondary College

She drifts through life in a constant haze with her wrists wrapped with lines of black script and words clouding her eyes. They block out the sun and the stars and the moon with their darkness and they tell her she is stupid,ugly,worthless. She believes them.

At night she lies in her bed, the words slide into her mouth and eyes and nose. They embed themselves into her mind and she cannot escape no matter how hard she tries. They fill her lungs like tar until she can barely breathe.

Each time she glances at her computer screen new words fly out, stringing themselves into sentences and stinging her like bees. She tries not to look but she needs to know what they are saying, what they think of her.

She sees them everywhere. They slip into her bloodstream and she feels them slithering under her skin. She thinks she is going mad and she does not want anyone to know.

But the words know about the madness, they know about all her fears. They tell her she should not be alive and she thinks perhaps they are right.

She thinks that maybe if she were more beautiful the words would leave her alone because although they have no eyes the people behind them do. So she does not eat and she does not speak and she covers her face with foundation because no one is allowed to see her imperfections and everyone knows that to be beautiful a girl must also be thin and meek and quiet.

The people who used to smile at her in the hallways of her school stop seeing her as one of them. She becomes just a stranger, a face in the crowd as she fades away. She feels their eyes on her back as she walks but when she turns she does not see them. She stops talking and nobody thinks to ask why. She stops laughing and nobody is left to notice. She stops crying because tears do not help her.

Her teachers tell her she must try harder. They did not see the words which hold onto her pen and tie up her hands so she cannot move them and they do not see the ink which veils her off from the rest of the world. Strings of words follow her like the tail of a kite but instead of flying she sinks further into her own misery. And she thinks that there is only one way to escape and she doesn’t realise she is wrong.

So she puts on her favourite dress and travels down to the deep river where she used to swim and she walks in with her dress floating around her. She goes in deeper and deeper and the words are so heavy that they pull her under. She open her eyes under the water and words come streaming out, rushing away with the current. They blur and mix with the water until they are only nothing and as the girl sinks deeper more words float off her like a stream of bubbles. She feels lighter and lighter as the words are washed away and she opens her mouth to breathe in the water. It enters her lungs and the words are forced out until she feels weightless and memories of her family fill the spaces left by the words. She floats to the surface and coughs up the water. She wades out of the river with only her dress weighing her down and the words do not come back.

 

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