by sof sears, natalie waite, & shirley jackson

You’re a red smear on the pastoral. Blood on the edge of a pale sleeve, or the dark that sweats through the edges of a lie. You’re more myth than girl. 

More symbol, signifier, signifying, than meaning itself. More storyline than person. Gaudy, oversaturated, overdone. We all know this story, I mean. How every small town buries its secrets and still cherishes the leakage, the slow-building smell of the rot. How the girl never makes it back home. 

How you fill up a screen, silver and hungry, and dismantle your iconography inch by inch, secret by secret. You’re not pristine. You’re not a warning, or a cautionary tale, or a fissure between teeth. You’re not a monster but you’re not not one, either.  You’re disheveled blonde hair and plaid wool skirts and satin lingerie. You’re a child trying so hard to bludgeon yourself into a woman. You’re longing, a watery faraway voice and a shuddering scarred need to be touched, wanted, desired, to claim your desire as something fearless rather than something maimed, distorted, burnt by trauma. You’re the way you hold your best friend to your chest and listen to her heartbeat, let the love creep in just a little. You’re the silence that eclipses everything, that hums underneath every TV dinner and kiss and homework assignment and wedding and college acceptance and slice of cherry pie and winter night in the woods, the silence that suspends this place, stunts its movements——

You’re Laura.

You’re Laura, and you will never be Laura again.