The Price of Words

by Eden Pollock, age 12
The Price of Words Eden was born June 2003 in New York City. She loves reading and writing and reading and talking. She likes watching movies too! She likes to play softball.

“Words are worth a thousand pictures
and we can’t change that, either”

Words are the things that define us,

shape us,

make us who we are

because

try as we might

we will, even in the most minor way possible,

concede with the labels slapped so harshly upon us

because

that’s how it is

we are a

loser

freak

blank

clear

unloved

forever alone

nothing

and we can’t change that

so really

we think that a picture is not worth a thousand Words

Words are worth a thousand pictures

and we can’t change that, either,

but

we can change schools

we can change our appearance

we can face our greatest fears and survive

just for the sake of fitting in

we can convince our parents to drive us to a tattoo parlor, late at night

we can have them strap us down so we don’t try and escape

we can scream louder than we have ever screamed before

pleading to be let up

pleading to be kept down

we can feel the needle on our skin

we can keep our eyes shut

squeeze them tight as we may, the tears trickle out

forming a steady waterfall down the side of our face

falling into a natural saltwater lake

we can be done after what feels like eternity

we can look at the Words in the mirror

curved along our jawline

with letters that spell out

‘May I?’

we can move the next day

start school the day after that

pretend that we’ve met our soulmate on a train

never to see him again

we can lie through our teeth

keeping a straight face

but on the inside

we can wonder

is the price of Words too much?

is the price of fitting in too much?

we can wonder this

wonder this until we regret that night

regret our false identity

but we can’t change it

we can’t change this new label that’s been forced on us

this new burden to carry around on our shoulders

slowly

slowly

breaking our back

cracking our bones

until we are nothing but a ‘May I?’ on our corroding jaw

until we can’t stand it anymore

until we realize that

yes

the price of Words is too much

the price of Words is us

our identity

who we are

and

we want all that back

so

‘May I?’ we want to ask to whatever stole them from us

‘May I have it back?”

that ‘May I?’ will be imprinted in our mind as long as the ‘May I?’ on our jaw is imprinted there

and one day

just before we crack

someone will come up to us on the bus and say

‘May I?’

and we think we’re imagining it

but we feel our foot burn

and as we say

‘Of course’

they grab their neck

and we get their phone number

they get ours

but really

we never return their texts

because

we were never more happy than when we were ourselves and we still didn’t know

the price of Words.

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