And then began the nights thick with the smell of lilacs, when the sound of pianos echoed clearly down the street.
You nailed boards into the trees, not once letting them know you were a girl. You faltered only once, offering to make juice for their parched lips, before grasping a hammer again. (They were never fooled, though.)
You didn’t have words then, you only had verbs and vowels and sounds and some nouns in between. You had a ladybug made of metal sitting on your windowsill. You’d raise your arms above your head and feel your body stretch into the air above you, not because it felt good, but because it was what characters on television would do when they awoke in the morning.
You’d play basketball every day after school, and forget to call home amidst the squealing and the flirting. Your mom would scold you when you arrived for dinner, “I was worried that those girls followed you home from school and beat you up. You could have been in a ditch someplace. Don’t think they won’t jump you Jessica. They’re not above that.” It was a rare moment of sincere concern. You’d never forget to call home again.
You’d wear lipstick for the first time, something that came in a sample from a magazine and tasted like grapes and stained your lips purple. You’d coast on your bike down the hill past the park, and would be catcalled at for the first time by boys in a jeep headed to the beach. You were allowed to stay up all night to read books, with only the whirring of a floor fan to keep you company.
You’d sit around a campfire while your roommate played guitar and your Dad sang improvised limericks to the group, with a cousin resting on your knee. You'd wondered when you'd gain control again.
You’d lazily make love in a tent in the middle of the afternoon, too hot to do anything except reach outside the tent to get more ice. You’d swim in the lake, and press your wet body against his.
It’s all detached. It's "You" because it’s someone else now, it seems.
And then you. . .no. . .
. . .and then I would write words that were completely superficial in nature and hate every forced syllable.