A Short List Of Things That Only Hurt A Little
I was 14 years old and somehow I felt everything and nothing at once.
By Callie Byrnes
1. The moment I saw the dress, I fell in love. It was a soft blue and sparkled in the light, so different from my usual uniform of t-shirts and leggings that the popular girl in my class always made fun of. I wore it proudly to school and smiled so hard it hurt when my classmates complimented me — for the first time in a long time, I felt pretty. Later at recess, I lost my balance on the playground and dove right onto the blacktop. My teacher fretted over my arms and legs that were scraped open, raw, but all I could see was blue stained dark red.
2. It had been a year since my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and I’d been told she was doing better. “She’ll be back to normal in no time,” everyone assured me. But the mother who had raised me used to laugh and sing and smile with her eyes, not just her mouth. That was a woman no amount of chemo or radiation could ever bring back.
3. He was all sharp elbows and knobby knees and a smile that set my heart on fire — I always blushed when I married him in MASH. It was the first real crush I ever had, and it was thrilling and terrifying and everything in between. Then one day my best friend went rogue, cornered him on the foursquare court and asked if he’d be my date for Valentine’s Day. Later she told me he’d shrugged and said, “If no one else asks me, I guess.”
4. I was 14 years old and somehow I felt everything and nothing at once. When anyone asked, I said I was fine, I was great, I was fan-fucking-tastic, but I hadn’t slept in months and was sneaking away extra pills and couldn’t stop thinking about dying. I almost thought I fooled them, too, until one day my cousin looked at me and said, “You know, I never see you smile anymore.”
5. It was the first time I had ever been in love, the big L-O-V-E, the kind where you can’t sleep and you can’t eat but somehow you feel better than you’ve ever felt before. Everything about him made me feel weightless and alive — frighteningly so. He asked me to hang out that night, said he’d call when he was ready, so I put on my favorite outfit and let my friend do my makeup as we waited, giddy, with my phone…