I must have been born with a vivid imagination and a creative nature that would ensure
reading had an overarching importance in my life. I read ‘Gone With The Wind’ for the first
time when I was eleven years old, and then reread it many times thereafter. Unfortunately for
my mother, I was a difficult breech birth: years later I would joke with her that the long and
challenging labour was due to me reading GWTW in the womb. “I should have had the
forethought to close that heavy tome as I made my way out into the real world,” I remarked
to Mom when home on a visit from the city, “but I was intensely engrossed in the burning of
Growing up in a large family, my sisters and I had a love-hate relationship, typical of many
children. I was a terrible tease with them; I was the proverbial thorn in their sides. However,
for the record they teased and taunted me too; in fact, they ganged up on me on many an
occasion, a middle child, and the only boy in a house full of sisters (several years later
another sister and finally a brother were born but were like a second family for my parents).
For example, they often insisted that I was adopted: making the best of a bad situation I
imagined there had been a mistake at the hospital between Prince Andrew and myself, and
my rightful and regal place was at Buckingham Palace in Jolly Olde England. As well, a
favourite trick of my sisters was to try to pull the towel off me that was wrapped around my
waist, when I was either on the way into the washroom to have a bath or on the way out. I
was mortified that my sisters would get sight of ‘the family jewels’, in all their glory and
It is generally known to be true that boys are testy and odorous little creatures, but girls are
just plain mean and spiteful when they have a bone to pick (and they don’t forget anything,
better than any elephant you may have met). When at our worst, we fought like cats and dogs,
enjoying every minute of our sibling-based battles; at our best, just have someone say
anything untoward about any one of us, and a line was drawn in the sand, the wagons were
put in a circle, and all artillery was pointing outward at the enemies. In short, may God have
Mercy on those children who had decided to pick on any one of the Potter brood. As siblings,
we were as thick as thieves, and sometimes did some good-natured thieving - seeing if we
could steal a chocolate bar from the candy counter at the town’s most popular restaurant-
coffee shop when the owner was busy at the cash register, just to prove a point. Even though
that woman kept an eagle eye on us, the hand is quicker than the eye!
A Dining Table
Naguilian Road, Baguio City,
May 30th, 2022
For the longest time, I believed that you did not love me. I trusted the idea that you did not love me. I
mean, how could you? I’m an eldest child riddled with mental illness and a prickly personality robbed of
a spine. Who could love such a disappointment? And like all unchecked cancers, it festered and ate me
alive until I was a walking corpse.
Plus, I didn’t know if I loved you either. You always seem angry toward me and my siblings. And to me,
it felt like you were so indifferent to us. You let us get beaten on the street, heckled, and punished for the
tiniest of reasons. How could any child love a mother as cruel as that?
It took me a long time to forgive you for not being able to protect me. I was hurt, and I was in pain. And
for the longest time, I made sure I was protecting you. I knew your heart would never be able to handle
knowing what those men did to me. I never regretted my decision, but I resented you for it.
I was angry. And was very scared. Attachments come usually flushed with longing and fluorescent with
pain. And I know I’m arrogant when I say I’ve endured a lifetime’s worth of suffering to justify my fear
and mistrust. You’ve never protected me when it counted.
And yet, like the patient mother that you are, you coaxed yet another one of your eldest children to step
into the light. You managed to pry my stubborn heart open. And I wasn’t the only one. Beyond the salvo
of your own cancers, your children started to paint you in a vibrant, unmissable, shade of pink.
Trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault and death
There is a way I would want to kill you that even I cannot fully articulate. What I do know is you must beg for mercy, I will bask in your tears as you wish for a kinder, faster death. I will kill you so horridly that it shocks even my person. I want you to die. Because you have killed me.
Where I'm from, they say it takes smoke to start a fire. So for posterity's sake, you will know why. You will know why I have killed a man and why I have no regrets.
I am listening to cigarettes out the window the afternoon I decide to write this. The song, a sad dreary tune. There's a main girl and she's depressed, finding comfort in her cigarettes, wishing for a change. We'll find moonlit nights strangely empty because when you call my name through them there'll be no answer. I have always been one for the extremes, when I am hurting I listen to music that breaks me because it makes me hurt harder. You could call it masochism, I quite believe it's part of life's little gems. I have always felt things so intensely, so passionately, it'd keep me up all night. I talk about the things I love and appreciate the things I believe in with as much fervor as my heart can muster. I used to love that one thing about me and now I hate it because I remember and feel everything you did to me. That is all I think about now. I cry almost everyday after that meeting, or laugh whenever I recall how obscenely cruel they were to me. How you probably knew you were going to win because you are a man and I am a woman.
The Waynesboro Middle School Library had exactly three copies of Judy Blume’s 1970
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I don’t remember who read it first, but in all honesty, it
was probably me. (I had the sort of friends that you talked to by the lockers, not the sort of
friends who were actually nice to you, so I read a lot of books to make up for it. It mostly did.)
Regardless of who read it first, though, all of the sixth-grade girls read it one after the other, at
varying speeds. Even at twelve, we’d already been ingrained – somehow, by someone – that our
changing bodies were things to be ashamed of, to talk about in whispers. Boys didn’t need to
know that we bled or that the straps of our new training bras cut our skinny shoulders. But we
knew. And Judy Blume, apparently, knew.
“I finished it,” Therese announced to me when I walked into Mrs. Atwood’s homeroom
science class. She held up the battered library copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I
held myself back from saying finally; Therese was a slow reader. “I love Margaret,” I said. “She
reminds me of me.” Therese laughed and rolled her eyes. She was allowed to wear mascara
already, and her eye-rolling always seemed so much more cutting because of those dark lashes.
“You’re not Margaret. You’re Laura Danker.” It did not occur to me to be offended because now
that she mentioned it, it was probably true. Laura Danker developed more quickly than all the
other girls, and she sat in the front row of all of her classes, and no one wanted to be her friend
because of some combination of those two things.