Twenty Minutes

I attended a Writer’s Coalition in the Big Apple last week. After a relentless pursuit of the New York City writing community, I landed myself a spot in this pretty library on 79th street. Writers of every sort sat huddled around four tables pushed together. The proctor was an artsy type with big eyes and a welcome smile. The goal of this gathering was to write and then to share. She gave us our prompt, set the clock for twenty minutes and let us loose.

Here is the result of that twenty minutes. Reflecting on seconds.

Seconds.

Love is a fickle beast. Self love most of all. Weird how you grow into this voice in your head. As if it waits for you to reach some age before it starts butting in. 

Before I heard her, I was so happy.

Childhood bred discovery enlightenment, realization. Puberty aimed its bullet at the throat of innocence. One shot, dead within seconds. From the corpse of naïveté rose a luciferous beast. Like a phoenix from a flame. Adolescence bore Her, gave Her my name. Who was Karlie without the critic? I forgot the simple times, built a haven for a monster. Come, I said. Make your home here. Feed me your opinions. Feed me She did.

Never did I see my body for more than a vessel to experience the world around me. Arms to hold, legs to run and jump and climb. Curves settled and She noticed. She sneered at the distribution of weight holding fast to my evolving form. She sneered at my pock-marked face, riddled with flaw. Why can’t you look like those other girls?

That’s why. That’s why they don’t like you. 

Or maybe it’s because you’re quiet, She suggested. Always solitary, my tendencies to spend time in my own company never bothered me much. Not until She came around. All of a sudden, it was wrong.

I was all wrong.

Did a saving grace exist, Karlie wondered. Her critic scoffed. On and on and on.

A second voice enters the scene in such a way to sew doubt in the soul of its host. I thought I was alone in this unfortunate marriage. For years I fought Her only to succumb to her criticisms. For years I forfeited the sweet comfort of a young girl in her own skin. 

Like a phoenix from the ashes. An identity shed. Adolescence gave way to adulthood. She lingered, that voice. I aimed a bullet at the throat of cynicism. One shot, dead within seconds. An identity shed, an identity recovered. Square one but filled to the brim with insight.

A beast I did harbor. For years and years. Never good enough until I decided I was. 

Farewell foul creature. I do not miss Her. But I will give Her this.

She, so cruel and scathing, taught me much.

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