“Rose (or something like that)” By Eleanor Rector

June 8, 2007

Her name is Rose. Or Emily. Maybe it’s Jessie.

It’s something short, to match her pixie cut, dyed platinum blonde, drowned in bleach like the Hollister skirt she probably paid fifty bucks for, tattered with strands that knot like my fingers when she tries to talk to me.

Jen, or maybe Kelly, waits until my parents file silently through the hallway into a back room to whisper what they think are secrets. The girl with the curt name turns to me and asks how old I am. I’ve been fifteen for exactly eight days and if I push with all my might, I can turn my words almost audible.

She says I’m lucky. Says, thank God they caught it early. Says, you’re still young, you don’t want to be like me, twenty, still with this nagging need to starve yourself. Says, you’re like an addict, but you’re addicted to a world in your own mind, a world where any of this matters.

Rose, or something like that, was wrong.

I was never lucky. June 8, 2017, comes and I have been twenty-five for exactly eight days. And I think of Rose or Claire. I know by now. That it didn’t matter for me that they caught it early. Was she wrong about herself, too? Did it matter that they caught it late? Or, is she one of the countless girls I watched turn themselves back into dust?

Maybe the cure is in the choice. In Rose speaking while I folded myself into a failed origami bird, wings broken, never learning how to fall without hitting the ground.

Eleanor is a South Floridian transplant trying to survive the seasons in Chicago. She works as a Crisis Counselor in an Emergency Room. You can see her work in The Cape Rock, The Courtship of Winds, Mad Hat Literary Journal, Black Heart Literary Journal, and Verity La, among others.  

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