I promised myself 100 times
that I was not a child any more:
when I crossed the street by myself.
when I made a friend without my mother
reading through the emails before I sent them,
dissecting our social interactions
like insects under a microscope.
when I put my brother to sleep,
tucking shadows up to his chin,
as my parents shouted in the kitchen.
when I stayed home alone
and for the first time
wished my parents would not come back.
When I turned 10, when I turned 13,
when I got out of the behavior modification school,
when I started to keep a log
of the things she threw and the threats she made,
when I, with my own money, bought three bags of cheap chocolate covered almonds
that looked like goose poop, and ate them all
in two days. When I didn’t tell anyone
and I didn’t tell anyone
and I didn’t tell anyone,
I tried to stand in the storm
and I promised myself
I was not a child anymore.
But when fears plaster over me
like pieces of papier-mâché,
when my words claw at my lungs,
when eye contact splices me open
like a split hair,
when my stomach is a cement mixer
churning with memories,
I curl up in a bathroom stall,
trace the constellations of cracks on the cloudy floor
and promise myself
that I am still a child.
Written for We Write Poems prompt 206.