I’m far from where I thought I would be

My teeth are unaligned at best, and I have braces, and I haven’t written any college essays, and I’m breaking out as if my hormones want me to acknowledge their persistent presence, and I’m sixteen.

So sixteen and so far away.

And I don’t know how I got here.

Oh, how 13-year-old Lynlee would laugh—laugh until she cried.

She would probably chuckle at first. Chuckle at the fact I snort now, that I make rugs in the basement, that I find my white, sparkly Christmas tree to be the epitome of home decor as it stands like a forgotten friend in my dusty room corner.

Maybe she would laugh a little harder as the layers melted away. Laugh at the lack of matching socks that my sale-section Reebok’s can’t hide, at the fact I’m using my neighbor’s purple lunch box that reminds me of nostalgia and Pokémon cards and playing Halo with my brother, at my belief that chopping my hair would rid memories like they were lousy lice living only on the surface—nothing is ever just the surface, funnily enough.

I speculate that she would soon have tears slipping down her cheeks, a sobbing laugh of sick sorts. Tear up at the self-tattooed red heart to remind me now that life does have love, at the containers full of untouched food like a painful revival of the countless years of grabbing at my skin until it was red and raw and roaring back at the screaming numbers in my head, at the scratches on the sides of my face for when everyone is too loud in there—too overlapping and overwhelming like Lake Michigan at night—that the voice I need can’t find her way out unless I remind myself of reality and her twisted way of telling my story.

Shortly, sadly, sickeningly, those sobbing laughs would turn maniacal—I think that began way back then. Manic laughs at the reality that no matter how free I am—no matter how many times I convince myself that since I can roll down the windows on Cascade I am in control—I will never be free enough for the itch in the back of my weeping soul to leave my tormented skin alone, at the fact that I still have no peace poking at the intrusions around me and within my blood yet the idea still haunts me every nightmare and daybreak, at the fact that regression is a seasonal flavor like pumpkin patches and caramel crunch and that fall has arrived once more to tell me that I am no different from the gasping, crushing breaths that knocked me over at seven and continue to do so as I slink towards seventeen.

And I don’t know how I got here.

These laughs are a cover, one as old as time, but Time is an omniscient being in my life. She works alongside Fate and Hope and Chance and my unproductive procrastination (which does not deserve divine femininity in my story).

They’ve led me here to the collared-sweater-wearing-frog rug; they’ve led me here to self-reflection at 2 a.m. that only the overflowing Notes app could withstand. It must be a sick game, one they love to play, to bring me so far away from what they whispered I would be to my 13-year-old self.

So I hope she at least gets a chuckle out of this, how life can deviate and devise illustrious demise; she deserves at least to laugh as the mirrors we believed to be reality hopelessly shatter around her.

Because I’m so sixteen, and I’m so, so far away.