Costume

In 6th grade, one morning, I walked into school and burst into tears.

Nothing out of the ordinary had happened that morning. My mom had told me to go find her cowboy boots and she had so many shoes and they were all piled up and strewn about her room. I took too long to find them. She came in ripped me off the floor by hair, slapped me in the face, called me a useless shit and told me to get out.

After that, I went to my room and tried to fix my hair. I brushed it and put in these clips that were shaped like yellow Volkswagon bug cars. I put on lipgloss and my green sneakers and a blue dress that didn’t match the sneakers at all, but I liked the way they looked.

I walked in and thought ‘everyone here thinks I’m the girl who sings so well and always get a chorus solo and made the paper that one time. Everyone here always tells me how nice my singing voice is. Everyone here always says ‘wow, you read so many books’ and they don’t know me at all. They don’t know that my mom hates me and hits me and they’d be really disgusted if they knew that.’

And I had this moment where I felt like: who am I? Am I the girl at home who is a useless shit/dumb fuck/retard/shithead? Am the one who has a nice singing voice and who danced with Ray at the Halloween dance in a 1950s dress and all the teachers said, aren’t you two cute? Who am I? And I saw my reflection in the display case by the front office and I saw my own green eyes and big stupid car clips and I couldn’t stand that I was supposedly inside of this body and I didn’t feel connected to it all.

I was immediately hysterical. Like instantaneously. I walked into the building and being in the building all at once I felt like I had no idea who I was or whose body I was inside of. I became so panicked. I hyper-ventilated and cried in the office. My face became really puffy and turned purple.

Of course people asked me what was wrong. I didn’t know what to say. Nothing was wrong. Not exactly. Not any one thing. I didn’t know how to explain that the way they all paid attention to me and cared was upsetting me more. At home I was the disgusting awful person who wouldn’t dare cry openly like that. If I wanted to cry, I went into the closet and put my shirt sleeve in my mouth. So I wouldn’t bother or upset anyone. But at school, everyone would stop and comfort me. What was this? Which part of life was the real part of life? Which me was the real me?

Eventually I stopped crying. The receptionist gave me a glass of water and I went to class.

My 6th grade teacher noticed my face was puffy and purple. She asked me if I was okay and I shook my head no. She asked what would make me feel better. I asked if I could read a book in the hallway and she said yes.

I read Where the Red Fern Grows. I sat on the floor with my back pushed up against the wall.

I wondered if anything would ever get better.

I wondered if life would ever stop feeling like parts of it weren’t real and if I’d ever stop feeling like when people like me it’s only because they don’t see me and I’m wearing some kind of costume, but there’s not a real person inside.

I think I just wish she was sorry. I wish she felt bad. I wish she felt bad enough to be nice to me and not always tell people I’m crazy and bipolar and cause so many problems.

I mean all I ever did was destroy the house and hurt myself. I didn’t do the sorts of things she did. And nobody in my family calls her bipolar. It isn’t fair and I don’t think I’ll ever stop being angry about it.

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Elizabeth Solorzano

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