Afrah Yafai: Draft 3

29 Jun

So I’ve spent time pretty much rewriting for SST9 because the poem wasn’t working. I’ve come up with this instead.

8.15am.

She tightens the crimson tie around her neck

and squeezes confidence into her blazer pocket

dreading the 12.30 bell to signal lunch time by herself.

But she leaves her bedroom as somebody else,

sewing on a mask to hide her distress

and refuses to take it off until she is alone.

.

4pm.

She returns home.

Floating through the hall like she’s on display.

No stammers, stumbles or anything less than a smile.

.

But through the crack of her bedroom door, I saw her chest rise and fall.

The chubby hands wiping at her eyes,

smudging tears into her face so they blended in with her features.

No one would ask any questions at the dinner table.

We are four years a part but in that moment, time was insignificant.

.

I asked her if she was okay.

‘Fine’ was the automatic response.

But my mum told me what the other girls had said

and she swore the words didn’t torment her when I know that they did.

I’d always considered us opposites,

but I swear I could see each broken piece of myself moulded into her replies.

.

I’ve been there.

Tiptoed along the borders of my personality because I was never sure of who I wanted to be.

And I can see how she battles with her conscience

trying to find the simplest route to integrate herself into adulthood

and the carnival that follows.

.

It’s all too familiar.

She is familiar.

.

I remember being 15.

I used to say that bra size reflected grades to justify that being small was okay,

So the other girls could keep their D’s and E’s

whilst I held onto those A’s.

And she tells me that C cups are unacceptable.

.

I’ve never told her that I was a little bit jealous.

.

I am 19 and when I look down,

I see belly button before I see cleavage

and that is something that I’ve just had to deal with.

.

And now she walks through a minefield of stares, and bleeds onto her shirt,

using a blazer that promotes cohesion to disguise the cuts.

.

But the stitched up holes leave marks that time does not care for

so even syllables of kindness find a way to ricochet within her thoughts,

in the same way they slowly burnt holes in my own,

as though every compliment was drenched in petrol,

and exploded every time fire was thrown at me,

at her.

And they never intended warm words to drive scars into our chests

but the inferno tongues of adolescence tore her open,

they tore me open,

and saw a bruised heart

forcing smiles into a body that saw ugly scribbled over the mirror every time.

.

And masks…

They hide smudged eyeliner and dried mascara.

But no mask will ever conceal the magic painted beneath her eyelids,

And although I’m still searching for comfort somewhere between my limbs,

not sure I’ll ever make peace with my reflection,

I pull every part of myself together to tell her that she will be okay,

And one day, her mirror will show the face of someone she can grow to love.

.

But nothing will guard her from moments that will haunt her.

I can only hold her when shivers pierce her spine,

and to collect the tears that no one caught for me.

I’ll trap each drop in a mason jar,

and promise to show her that beauty can be found in the roots of her shame.

.

She wears a mask for protection.

But an untold tale is written in her eyes.

It’s a story I know a little too well.

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