my restricted section: better left unread

I once thought I was the
coming-of-age story you
find in the young adult
section of the libraries,
the ones that smell like
pages and pages of
bittersweet reminiscing.

But yesterday, I dared to
be so bold as to flirt with
stale stories from my
childhood’s swan song
and I found myself in a
place long forgotten, by
the muddy creek and
footbridge I hadn’t visited
in so long; in the spot
where I let my crayfish go–
her name was Mellow –
because I couldn’t care
for her. It’s been eight
years since but I’m still
learning, because it takes
a bit longer than typical
when you’re teaching
yourself from a textbook
burnt by years of short
tempers and sharp
tongues and stormy
nights – forgive me, dear,
if I’m a bit slower than most.

And I dared to be so bold
as to keep reading what I
had forgotten was a scary
story – and I remembered
my fear as I found myself
playing tag with musty
memories of him and him
and him; in the spot where
he gathered pine cones with
his sister at dusk before
Thanksgiving dinner one year,
that first time I let someone
convince me I was special;
where he gave my lips their
first lick of toxicity – a
tummy-turning tablespoon
of disgust and emptiness,
mixed with silent pride for
being wanted and silent
shame for betraying the
girl my parents raised me
to be; and it was in this
spot where he stole a
piece of me in the dead
of the night, and I thought,
that maybe, maybe he’d
actually made me feel
alive again – after all, that’s
what he told me – but really,
he was suffocating me slowly
and I didn’t even realize.

I dared to be so bold as
to delve into my moldy
memoirs and now I know
that I am not the coming-
of-age story you find in
the young adult section;
I am the restricted one,
hidden away in the basement
because my past is painful,
and better left unread.

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