Numbers

By Ashley Larson, TIWP Student

A​ ​9​ ​year​ ​old​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​sat​ ​down​ ​by​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​on​ ​the​ ​blue​ ​satin​ ​couch​ ​as​ ​she slumped​ ​over​ ​in​ ​the​ ​pink​ ​shirt​ ​and​ ​looked​ ​up​ ​with​ ​curiosity.​ ​Grandma​ ​told​ ​her​ ​that​ ​everyone​ ​gets into​ ​habits​ ​and​ ​those​ ​habits​ ​happen​ ​at​ ​ages​ ​you​ ​cannot​ ​control.​ ​Those​ ​are​ ​the​ ​ages you​ ​become​ ​forever, while​ ​you​ ​have​ ​that​ ​habit​. And when​ ​you​ ​come​ ​out​ ​of​ ​your​ ​habit,​ ​you​ ​are​ ​the same​ ​age​ ​as​ ​when​ ​you​ ​started​ ​your​ ​habit.​ ​She​ ​said​ ​if​ ​you start smoking ​at​ ​18​ ​and​ ​stop​ ​when​ ​you’re​ ​60, you’re​ ​18​ ​throughout​ ​those​ ​years​ ​and​ ​you​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​lose​ ​sight​ ​of​ ​who​ ​you​ ​are​ ​because​ ​you​ ​live​ ​in a​ ​deluded​ ​society​ ​of​ ​18…18…18.

Maybe​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​18,​ ​but​ ​you​ ​surely​ ​are​ ​someone​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​the​ ​teenage​ ​years.​ ​I​ ​don’t know​ ​what​ ​you​ ​have,​ ​whether​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​fetish​ ​or​ ​just​ ​a​ ​mental​ ​problem​ ​that​ ​you’ve​ ​repressed​ ​but​ ​you have​ ​a​ ​problem​ ​with​ ​claiming​ ​ownership​ ​of​ ​things​ ​that​ ​aren’t​ ​yours,​ ​that​ ​were​ ​never​ ​yours,​ ​and will​ ​never​ ​be​ ​yours.​ ​You​ ​form​ ​an​ ​attachment,​ ​except​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person​ ​does​ ​not​ ​form​ ​one​ ​in return—so​ ​you take​ ​out​ ​your​ ​Gorilla​ ​Glue​ ​and​ ​glue​ ​them​ ​to​ ​you​ ​while​ ​they’re​ ​asleep​ ​so​ ​that,​ ​when​ ​they​ ​wake​ ​up, they’ll​ ​never​ ​know​ ​what​ ​you​ ​did​ ​until​ ​you​ ​show​ ​them​ ​that​ ​you​ ​did,​ ​until​ ​you​ ​tell​ ​them​ ​that​ ​you​ ​did, until​ ​you​ ​hurt​ ​them​ ​so​ ​you​ ​did.​ ​You’re​ ​25​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​16​ ​because​ ​of​ your ​habits—yet​ ​you​ ​think​ ​you’re​ ​34 but​ ​I​ ​think​ ​you’re​ ​12​ ​while​ ​others​ ​treat​ ​you​ ​like​ ​you’re​ ​57.​ ​These​ ​numbers​ ​add​ ​up​ ​to​ ​144​ ​and​ ​the square​ ​root​ ​is​ ​12​ ​and​ ​divided​ ​by​ ​2​ ​its​ ​72​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​25.​ ​Just​ ​25.​ ​Only​ ​25.​ ​Forever​ ​16.

Maybe​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​18,​ ​but​ ​you​ ​surely​ ​are​ ​someone​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​your​ ​20’s.​ ​You’re​ ​a​ ​protector​ ​and take​ ​things​ ​to​ ​the​ ​next​ ​level​ ​of​ ​protection,​ ​but​ ​you​ ​aren’t​ ​protecting​ ​me,​ ​you’re​ ​protecting yourselves​ ​and​ ​your​ ​own​ ​lives​ ​even​ ​though​ ​you​ ​live​ ​in​ ​the​ ​state​ ​of​ ​mind​ ​in​ ​which​ ​you​ ​think you’re​ ​protecting​ ​me.​ ​You​ ​think​ ​you​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​me,​ ​you​ ​think​ ​you​ ​know​ ​me,​ ​but​ ​how can​ ​you​ ​know​ ​someone​ ​and​ ​all​ ​of​ ​their​ ​illnesses​ ​without​ ​actually​ ​knowing​ ​them?​ ​How​ ​can​ ​you walk​ ​around​ ​saying​ ​you​ ​know​ ​me​ ​when​ ​you​ ​know​ ​me​ ​as​ ​someone​ ​defined​ ​by​ ​their​ ​illnesses? You​ ​hear​ ​the​ ​words​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​anxiety​ ​and​ ​you​ ​immediately​ ​think​ ​of​ ​me,​ ​showing​ ​that​ ​you are​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​this​ ​loop​ ​of​ ​never-ending-ness​ ​because​ ​you​ ​think​ ​I​ ​am​ ​depression,​ ​that​ ​I​ ​am anxiety,​ ​when​ ​instead​ ​I​ ​am​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​woman​ ​who​ ​is​ ​overcoming​ ​more​ ​than​ ​you​ ​can​ ​fathom. You’re​ ​51​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​29​ ​because​ ​of​ ​habits​—yet​ ​you​ ​think​ ​you’re​ ​68​ ​because​ ​of​ ​your​ ​so​ ​called “wisdom.”​ But​ ​I​ ​think​ ​you’re​ ​21​ ​while​ ​others​ ​treat​ ​you​ ​like​ ​you’re​ ​45.​ ​These​ ​numbers​ ​add​ ​up​ ​to 214​ ​and​ ​the​ ​square​ ​root​ ​is​ ​almost​ ​15​ ​and​ ​divided​ ​by​ ​2​ ​its​ ​107​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​51.​ ​Just​ ​51.​ ​Only​ ​51. Forever​ ​29.

Maybe​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​18,​ ​but​ ​you​ ​surely​ ​are​ ​someone​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past.​ ​You​ ​can’t communicate​ ​and​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​what​ ​it’s​ ​like​ ​to​ ​listen​ ​and​ ​understand​ ​but​ ​you​ ​think​ ​you​ ​do. You​ ​think​ ​you​ ​know​ ​what​ ​it’s​ ​like​ ​to​ ​be​ ​me​ ​and​ ​you​ ​think​ ​it’s​ ​easy​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​someone​ ​like me​ ​when​ ​actually​ ​you​ ​have​ ​no​ ​clue​ ​in​ ​the​ ​slightest.​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​saying​ ​everything​ ​you​ ​say​ ​is​ ​wrong…​ ​but​ ​it​ ​isn’t​ ​right.​ ​Nothing​ ​these​ ​days​ ​is​ ​ever​ ​right.​ ​You​ ​use​ ​me​ ​as​ ​a​ ​trophy​ ​but instead​ ​of​ ​holding​ ​me​ ​up​ ​to​ ​say​ ​you​ ​won,​ ​you​ ​hold​ ​me​ ​down​ ​to​ ​show​ ​your​ ​power​ ​and dominance​ ​because​ ​I​ ​am​ ​so​ ​weak​. Yet​ ​you​ ​tell​ ​me​ ​I’m​ ​strong​ ​and​ ​that​ ​you​ ​understand.​ ​You​ ​don’t understand. No​ ​one​ ​understands​ ​what’s​ ​it’s​ ​like​ ​to​ ​be​ ​me​ ​because​ ​no​ ​one​ ​is​ ​a​ ​woman​ ​like​ ​me. You​ ​think​ ​you​ ​get​ ​it,​ ​you​ ​always​ ​thought​ ​you​ ​did​ ​but​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​understand​ ​someone​ ​that​ ​is​ ​stone and​ ​ice​ ​because​ ​there’s​ ​no​ ​way​ ​of​ ​getting​ ​in,​ ​there’s​ ​no​ ​way​ ​of​ ​knowing​ ​what’s​ ​inside​ ​a​ ​stone unless​ ​you​ ​break​ ​them​ ​and​ ​that’s​ ​what​ ​you​ ​did​ ​honey​, ​that’s​ ​exactly​ ​what​ ​happened.​ ​You’re​ ​16 but​ ​you’re​ ​13​ ​because​ ​of​ ​your​ ​damn​ ​habits​ ​yet​ ​you​ ​think​ ​you’re​ ​20​ ​but​ ​I​ ​think​ ​you’re​ ​7​ ​while others​ ​treat​ ​you​ ​like​ ​you’re​ ​18.​ ​These​ ​numbers​ ​add​ ​up​ ​to​ ​74​ ​and​ ​the​ ​square​ ​root​ ​is​ ​about​ ​9​ ​and divided​ ​by​ ​2​ ​its​ ​37​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​16.​ ​Just​ ​16.​ ​Only​ ​16.​ ​Forever​ ​13.

Maybe​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​18,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​know​ ​what​ ​I’m​ ​doing.​ ​I’m​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​woman​ ​that​ ​knows​ ​what​ ​she’s doing​ ​and​ ​knows​ ​how​ ​to​ ​handle​ ​herself​ ​more​ ​than​ ​any​ ​of​ ​you​ ​know​ ​what​ ​to​ ​do​ ​about​ ​me​ ​or​ ​for me.​ ​You​ ​think​ ​you​ ​all​ ​know​ ​what’s​ ​best​ ​for​ ​me​ ​but​ ​trust​ ​me​ ​that’s​ ​not​ ​the​ ​case.​ ​I’m​ ​16​ ​and​ ​forever growing​ ​because​ ​I​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​grow.​ ​I​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​see​ ​through​ ​your​ ​bullshit.​ ​The​ ​universe​ ​still spins,​ ​our​ ​problems​ ​are​ ​irrelevant​ ​and​ ​if​ ​we​ ​die​ ​then​ ​Jupiter​ ​has​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​and​ ​Saturn’s​ ​rings​ ​keep moving​ ​and​ ​the​ ​earth​ ​keeps​ ​spinning​ ​and​ ​the​ ​sun​ ​still​ ​is​ ​glaring​ ​and​ ​my​ ​grandma​ ​is​ ​still​ ​telling me​ ​that​ ​habits​ ​control​ ​your​ ​age,​ ​still​ ​telling​ ​me​ ​to​ ​not​ ​let​ ​habits​ ​get​ ​to​ ​me​ ​in​ ​ways​ ​that​ ​they​ ​got​ ​to you.

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