Adolescence

by Jane Gu

I.
My fingers brushed across my mouth and its
Saccharine memories:
I still remember you
And the tangy lemonade
Off the tip of your tongue.
Your whispers of sweet nothings,
Sweet somethings
Made the night close off,
As blurs of orange and pink and red
Peeked out from behind the stars.
Nothing could taste that sweet again.

II.
It felt like a fever that lasted for years.
Whole acres of me were on fire,
Burning anxiety, apprehension, anticipation,
Guilt.

The darkness gave no comfort,
No cover from the bright flames
Of unrelenting expectations,
Imminent, inevitable failure.
The night offered no blanket
That could shroud the disappointment.

Tears could not quench this fire.

My mother’s hand covered my forehead
As it burned wildfires into the thoughts
I could not think,
Into dreams I could not dream,
Into hopes I could not hope.

“Try harder,” she said.
I felt my head
             Swelling,
                         Swirling,
                                      Stopping.
I threw up in the sink.

III.
I spent too many hours
Watching Disney movies,
Staring in awe at the oh-so-lucky princesses
Who got all that they could wish for:
A pair of legs,
A night at the ball,
A faceless man covered in royalty.

He appeared as a ray of light,
Shining sanguinity
As he held out his hands
One with a glass slipper,
The other open—
With a “happily ever after” brighter than his smile.

But whoever said that two
Is better than one
Never tried to hold the infinite
With their bare hands,
Never tried to wrap their head
In holiday gift paper,
In Happy Birthday’s,
In celebrating their self-sufficiency.

Even in my daydreams,
I would walk away.

 

Jane Gu is currently in her first year at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center pursuing her MD. She likes to rock climb, play the kazoo, and make bad jokes. Her work has been featured in the Dallas Morning News, and she also enjoys performing spoken word in her free time.