There Was Once A Girl...Mature

A teen girl struggling with bouts of depression, anxiety, anorexia, etc.
Includes elements such as family struggles, depressed thoughts, anxious thoughts, anorexic thoughts, suicidal thoughts, etc.

There was once a girl, a very bright girl, who didn’t fit in at all. It wasn’t her fault, and she really wasn’t that strange, but she just didn’t fit exactly right. Everyone else had this way of thinking, see, and she thought differently. Everyone else was able to go from points A-B-C, but she found a path straight from A to Z without any difficulty. She was what you would call ‘gifted’. Now, this girl, her name was Acey, and she wasn’t really that old. She was fourteen, turning fifteen in a few months. She didn’t think she was very old, either. All her peers were putting on dark lipstick and pulling their breasts out of their shirts to attract 22-year-old men who smoked weed in dark alleyways. Acey wasn’t like that. Acey liked to lie on the grass, looking up to the stars, and dream of things to come. Acey honestly didn’t like being a girl, much, but she lived with it because that’s all she could do. And, to be fair, she didn’t mind certain parts of it. She liked the fact that girls were a bit nicer than boys were (at least in her experience) and she liked that she could wear boy-ish clothes and girl-ish clothes without it being strange. Most boys that she knew would get made fun of for wearing girl-ish clothes, even if popular culture was starting to say that it was okay. Oh, another thing. Acey hated popular culture. It wasn’t like she was some sort of raging hipster that would roundly denounce anything that anyone else had ever heard of, but she wasn’t too fond of what the mainstream media would produce. For example, this new ‘accept everyone regardless’ movement was really getting on her nerves. First of all, Acey knew that someone wasn’t automatically evil because they practiced a certain religion or came from different backgrounds, but she also knew that there are certain religions out there that would shoot her for the glory of their god. It disturbed her deeply to think of all the Christians being persecuted in the Middle East just because of their religion. I mean, what did they do to you? Anyway, she wasn’t about to get into some big political argument with someone. Honestly she hated arguing. It always made her feel a little inferior, because she wasn’t very confident. See, Acey was a little bit depressed, a little bit anxious, and a lot of what she called insane. She was also a big assortment of other things that never really mattered all that much to her but seemed to matter a whole lot to everyone else, namely the fact that she thought she was asexual and the fact that she was mildly anorexic. But that’s a story for another time, isn’t it? This story is about how Acey wants to disappear. She wants to leave this world and never see another human being again. She hates humans, and doesn’t consider herself to be one, not really. But let’s let this story start, shall we?


It was around 9:00 in the morning. It was thundering outside and the windows of the bedroom were darkened and cool. Acey, sitting in her bed, was doing her school. Acey was cyber-schooled, see, so she did all of her school online. It was nicer than homeschooling but didn’t have that cumbersome social aspect of it all to deal with. Acey didn’t like socializing. She suffered from a bit of social anxiety and mostly hated anything to do with meeting new people or even interacting with acquaintances. Yeah, yeah, everyone deals with it, I know, Acey had thought many a time before. I just don’t want to deal with it, so there.

Find the potential rational roots of f(x) = 2x2 – 23x + 45.

 No. A notebook and a slightly-dulled pencil were pulled over towards the computer screen. The equation was hastily scribbled in a garbled left-handed script and swiftly solved. The answer was typed in and submit was clicked. A high-pitched ding! was heard and a green checkmark flashed onto the screen. A puff of air was exhaled.

10:28 AM. A shrill ringing of the phone was heard, permeating through all the rooms in the upstairs of the house. Footsteps were heard and Acey’s mother’s voice sounded: “Hello, this is Dawn…I’m good, how are you?...Oh, sure, I’ll go get her…Acey! The phone!” Acey scrambled off of her bed, ripped open her bedroom door, and practically flew over to her mother’s side. One look told her all she needed to know. She cautiously picked up the phone. Feeling very frantic on the inside but sounding very calm and collected, she began to speak. “Hello, this is Acey.” A man’s voice could be heard through the speaker: “Hello, Acey, this is Mr. Krogh. Do you have any questions about your Social Studies class?” Not knowing how the air was getting through her lungs, she replied, “Nope.” Mr. Krogh continued for a minute or so, detailing how her grade was fine – a 97% last time she’d checked – and her progress was great – 13% ahead of schedule, as usual – and to contact him if she needed any help. She said ‘OK’ to all of these and said her goodbye and hung up the phone. A wave of relief crashed over her as she exhaled softly. Honestly he must have enough to deal with with all of those other, failing students. Why bother calling me? With a bit of resentment towards the weekly phone calls she had to have, Acey carried herself over toward her bed to resume her work.

1:20 PM. She wasn’t doing work. She wasn’t doing school at all. Acey was scrolling through the pages of a Tumblr blog filled with depressing thoughts, grunge-y photos, and so-called ‘thinspiration’ pictures. These thinspirations had “thinspired” Acey to stop eating. So far she couldn’t get two days by without binging on all of her Halloween candy. This has got to stop. I’m not going to lose any weight if I keep breaking down at every Twix bar I see. Her short-but-thin fingers typed out ‘how to purge’ into the Google search bar and a whole new world was opened up to her. See, anorexia, for her, was pinker while bulimia was bluer. Acey had always tended to stay away from bulimic posts as she didn’t think she had the gumption to puke repeatedly. But since she kept binging, she might as well start purging. Scanning the gray, white, and black page in front of her, she read through tips on where to put your fingers, what to eat and when, and how to hide it from your parents. Tightness grew in Acey’s chest as she read, “Don’t bother purging if you ate over an hour ago. By then the calories will’ve already been absorbed.” She had stopped eating several hours ago. Her eyes grew misty, blurred, and a film of tears covered them from the outside world. Closing them, Acey could feel the cool wetness stain her cheeks and she was certain that her computer would have at least one teardrop on it. Great.

She didn’t purge yet.


She had downloaded Spotify secretly on her computer. She used it to listen to songs that were too depressing for Her Image. She let herself cry while locked in her room but always made sure to say she hated depressing things while Out. In was safe, In was where she could be herself. In was her real home. Out was where all things were fake, lies. Out was where she was happy, silly, everything that she felt on the Inside was put away for a while and she acted as if she had never known of its existence. She was black on the inside and a sunshine-y yellow on the outside. She wrote her feelings in places that couldn’t be found. She wrote them in her diary, on her ceiling where the light didn’t touch, and imprinted forever on the inside of her head. They were there, like a tattoo, but one that no one could ever see but her.

She immersed herself in fictional relationships. She read fanfiction like others read the Bible. She was lonely. She wanted to be invisible to all but one. It was killing her internally.

She stopped reading her addiction.

She would listen to Her Songs that made her sad in private. When she heard them on the radio in the car with her family, she would turn her face to the window and cover it as much as possible to hide the small tears welling in her eyes. But she wouldn’t let them fall. She never let her tears fall while Out. Her tears were reserved for In, especially while she was the only one in her shared bedroom. It was safer with her younger sister because she didn’t know as many of the signs. But her older sister could always catch on. It was never safe with her, whether In or Out.

She wanted to do something with her life, but could never work up the initiative to get out of her bed. Her joints ached and her muscles tightened up in lack of food. She tried to remember to take her multivitamin while starving. Her grades started falling slightly and she tried as hard as she could to hide it. She did well. She would make a great actress. It was so obvious.

Then she’d find something. A song, a piece of artwork, a quote, and everything would be okay again. She’d resolve to stop this madness and eat normally for the first half of the day. She’d eat her breakfast and think about being normal and good enough and everything would be lovely. But her stomach would expand from its starvation-sized self and she’d get very hungry. She’d grab her bag of Halloween candy and munch on it the rest of the afternoon. She wouldn’t just eat a lot, she’d eat a lot of it, so much that she’d practically throw up from the sheer amount that she was shoveling in and she still couldn’t stop. She’d cry and break a little on the inside while lying on her back and gazing up at the inspirational quotes that she’d perverted to bend to her anorexic will and think about how she’s gaining too much fat and she’s ugly and never ever good enough and just want to do something to fix it but the only things she can think of are cutting and purging and she can’t cut because she doesn’t have any way to do that in her large family without being found out and she can’t purge because it hurts her to and she just wants to end it all. She puts on her headphones and turns on a sappy love song and cries and cries but only internally because the walls are thin and someone can always hear you. She is trapped in the Out.


She does well in school. She always gets A’s. She’s being tested for the gifted program in a week or so. She is smart, and she knows she is. Her dad, always supportive, gives her tasks to do separate from her normal school. Currently she’s doing Pre-Calculus. She’s 14 and tired. She’s hurting. She still wants to do well, so she does the pre-calc work. She knows it isn’t really that much of a leap, for her, but compared to her peers she’s at least two grades ahead. She’s meant to be starting high school, but she’s finishing next year. She knows that anyone can do hard math because she’s been told countless times that the more your brain does math the better it gets at it and she knows this, but she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to go to college. She’s scared. She wants to get a degree and all that, but she is so scared of people that she doesn’t think she can make it in college. She’ll do it online. She’ll work from home. She’ll avoid people at all costs. But she wants to get married someday. She knows that most people find their eventual partner in college or at work or somewhere. She knows that if she doesn’t go to a physical college she won’t have the same connections. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t care.

She works on complex division.  She looks at it. She writes it down hastily, getting graphite smears on the side of her hand that scrubs against the paper as she moves it. She works through the problem as she’s been taught. She works hard, looks through everything, checks it…and it’s incorrect. She’s tried this problem and similar problems many times with similar results. Incorrect. Failure. Bad job, Acey. She doesn’t want to fail. She feels desperate, so she goes online and uses a calculator for this sort of thing. She inputs her division problem and finds the answer and checks it and…incorrect. A strangled sound comes out of her mouth that doesn’t sound hers and she starts crying freely now. She scoots back so her spine hits the wall, hiding her face from the prying eyes of her family that peek through the open door. She cries. She listens to her music. She decides and re-decides. She hates humanity. She doesn’t want to be smart. She wants to be just normal, sweet, blessed normal. She wants to be able to walk into a room and eat an apple and not feel as if people are judging her. She wants to be able to just eat an apple and not binge daily on things until she’s sick. She’s dying internally. She hates life. She goes on Tumblr and searches ‘depression’ and gets the expected response: “Everything alright?” No. Nothing is right. Nothing at all. She’s so scared of everything and nothing at the same time. She’s scared of other people, she’s scared of being good, she’s scared of herself, and she’s most of all scared of the unknown.

This was supposed to be a sci-fi story or maybe a realistic fiction story, but it’s turning into a story of Her depression and a record of every time She cries.

She tried her very best on an Algebra II quiz. It was on the Rational Roots Theorem. She thought she knew what she was doing, as she thought she understood the material. Seems she didn’t, though, because she got a 60%, a failing grade. Anything under a 70% means you’ll have to go into the building and work with the teachers. Acey would do anything to avoid that, including selling her soul to the devil. But that wasn’t going to happen. Suicide was way more likely.

She didn’t die yet.

Everything got better. Acey started eating. The skies turned from grey to blue. It was amazing. Everything was wonderful again. Acey started to forget what it even felt like to be grey.

Acey found something out. She found out that she’s aromantic as well. She felt weird, saying it, but it fit her perfectly. She felt pretty free, now.

It never lasts.

Acey was doing her school in her bed. She was working until about 1:00 pm. Then she logged onto 7CupsofTea and checked out her profile. She was feeling so great that she figured she might as well become a listener. So she did. She became a listener. And she helped someone struggling with the death of their father and brother to feel better. She felt great about that. But she was helping them for so long that she forgot the time and she wasted about an hour talking with someone instead of doing her school. She had to go in to the Building tomorrow. That was so far on the Out that there wasn’t even any bit of In visible. It was terrifying.

Social anxiety is a funny thing. It isn’t very black-and-white, so to speak, but it has no color whatsoever. It’s like a hand that grabs you by the small of your back, a voice that whispers in your ears. It’s like wanting something but knowing that something will kill you. Social anxiety affects about 200,000 people in the US each year. Social anxiety means that you want to hang out with your friends but actually seeing some human causes your stomach to churn in knots and your palms to get sweaty and your mouth to dry up like the Sahara. Social anxiety means that when you get a phone call, your first thought is hiding and your second is running away. Social anxiety means that when you try to act normal around your Dangerous crowd, you end up acting like a socially awkward person, even though your social graces are quite refined. Your parents don’t understand because they only ever see you around your Safe crowd, people you’ve been around so long that you’re comfortable with. But even those people cause a pang of fear to strike through your gut before you even walk into the room. Eyes, the silent killers, and thoughts, the poison that stings. Nobody realizes you have it because you don’t want to seem stupid so you shut up all your fears into a little box called your mind and keep them there, quietly killing you while everyone else turns their backs. You feel like you’re so alone while sitting in a crowded room and you halfway want to be alone but you even fear the thoughts they might think of you while you’re away. You try to blend in but you’re like a zebra in a tank of fish. It’s painful and you cry and cry but don’t forget that your parents are enemies too. They don’t understand you and they won’t ever understand you because they don’t feel the same fear that strikes you down to your knees and forces your face down on the ground, rubbing it into the dirt and creating salty mud with your tears. It grabs its whip and strikes you again and again across the back, then stabs you through the heart with betrayal when you realize yet another person is Dangerous. Occasionally it takes a break or grabs a glass of water and you meet someone Safe but they all leave eventually. Your friends never know how to deal with you and your issues so they back away slowly, killing you softly as you’ve been killed before. It is the worst thing possible to you. Social anxiety means that talking to your parents feels terrifying. You, a normally chatty person, have now been struck down, your tongue cut out with the same blade that stabs you through the heart and soul. Social anxiety is not shy. Social anxiety is alone.

Acey is a Girl Scout. Girl Scout’s go camping. Therefore, Acey goes camping. This weekend her troop was going for a Thanksgiving trip with a Boy Scout troop. Acey did not like boys. She especially didn’t like it when her Safe friends decided to go hang out with the Dangerous boys. Because that left Acey alone.

Acey honestly didn’t know what she liked. Because she flip-flopped so extremely from blue to gray, she had two distinct tastes in everything. And, to be honest, she didn’t really like what she liked in the Gray while she was in the Blue and vice-versa. So, whenever people asked her what her favorite anything was, she didn’t know how to answer. While in the Blue, she liked The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Phantom of the Opera, and other dramatic, exciting, mostly happy things. While in the Gray, however, she liked indie music, mostly classical, some Gregorian chant, etc., etc., etc. She liked things that made her feel things, but that happened no matter what she was at the time. It just changed what feelings she wanted to feel. While Gray, she wanted to feel sad, lonely, and a bit depressed. She liked feeling like she was alone. While Blue, she loved to imagine fanciful scenarios of herself driving down a highway in Nebraska, the radio blasting some old classic rock song that she was rocking out to.

She loved being alone. Nobody knew. That was something that existed while both Blue and Gray. Her whole family thought she was an extrovert who loved interaction. To be honest, she did enjoy seeing friends, but she loved being alone. She could find out what she was really like and wouldn’t have to deal with others and their input. She loved growing as a person without the influence of her surroundings.

She tries, she tries, she tries so hard. It never works. It never works.

Shallow breathing is heard as equations are copied and pasted into an online calculator because the human doing this can’t calculate them on her own. She’s falling because she’s letting go. She was happy. She didn’t want it. She feels empty. She used to be an all A’s student. Now she’s only got one A – PE.

She doesn’t know what’s wrong with her. She tries to be happy but she hates it. She almost doesn’t want to be happy. She clings to this sadness while drowning underneath all the hate she carries around with her, tied to her ankles like shackles. She loves to cry. It reminds her that she can feel.

She’s gotten suicidal again. She might relapse into starvation. It helps her feel in control. Why is she so screwed up, she asks. Silence is the answer, as no one audible realizes anything’s amiss.

She could pull herself up if she wanted to. She doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to be okay. She wants to have something to be different with. It all ends in a spiral, dumping her into a stereotypical relationship with herself.

Death is the only answer. Whether slowly starving or quick and easy overdose, that’s the only thing she knows to take away this feeling of failure.

Failure failure failure

Fail fail fail fail fail fail fail

She is a failure.

She spends hours on Tumblr, listening to sad songs on Spotify. She never realized that she’d get this screwed. Her sister was always the screw up. She was always the one who tried to get better. If she fails any more she won’t be able to get alone for college, work, etc. They only let the best stay away forever. Away. Alone. Shit. The phone rings. Her mother answers. Not the school. Relief floods over her body, through her mind and she recognizes the way she smiles internally, never bothering to stretch the facial muscles. She wonders if she’ll ever get past this, or if she’ll always just think of death and dying. Why is she depressed? She doesn’t know. She’s depressed, anorexic, stressed, and most importantly, she’s suicidal. She wants to die. She’s just tired of living. Living is boring. But she hasn’t gotten tested for the gifted program yet so she’ll probably live until then. So many things she hates. She hates camping with others, but she loves doing it alone. Nobody understands. She’d love to just leave them all behind and go off by herself but of course with a family of six always on your heels you can never have any breathing room, let alone any time to yourself. She hates it. That’s why she wants to die. It’s the only way to be alone. The only way. Only. So singular, so exclusive. Black and white. Blue and grey. Only two, one or the other. True or false. Yes or no. Hello or goodbye. Life or death.

She lies too much. She lies about who she actually is. Nobody knows her. That’s what makes it easier to cut the strings. Everyone has fallen in love with a fake front of hers that she’s placed up in her store window, but nobody actually knows who runs the joint. These things make her crazy. She hates life. She hates herself. She hates everything about herself. A blanket term. Nothing is good. Nothing.

She’s been eating normally for a while now. It’s been halfway satisfying and halfway guilt-inducing. While camping, her recovery was soaring. It was amazing to just eat and not even think about it. But then she got home, she sat on her bed and watched her stomach roll over onto itself. She really wasn’t that fat, but she hated certain things about herself. Her legs were very muscular, but they were also very large. She hated her breasts. She would starve herself if only they would go away.

So she fell back down again. She didn’t see it that way, no, not at all. She saw it as flying again. Feeling the bonds that tie her down to the ground break away with every hunger pang she felt. Every time she resisted food, her feet would lift off the ground just that much more. She wanted to be skinny, yes, but more than that she wanted to be floating. She wanted to be so thin that she could walk on snow and not leave any indent. She wanted to have the slightest breeze blow her away. She envied the feather.

She got back on her dieting site. She input yesterday’s gluttonous amounts of food, swearing to never eat that much again. She had gone on a hunt for foods that would decrease your appetite. Unknowingly, her parents were helping her. Fiber was an appetite suppressant, if only for the fact that it filled you up quickly. Her family ate a ton of fiber. That and they always had apples and peppermint tea around. Peppermint tea is literally the textbook example of something to trick your mind into thinking you’re full. It always worked perfectly for silly, little Acey.

She didn’t eat her breakfast. She started doing her school in an almost trance. It’s always almost. She started doing Chemistry but it went over her head like the breeze. She kept getting things wrong. She said fuck it all and moved on to Algebra.

Then she paused. She thought again. She clicked ‘Chemistry’ and started over. She looked at what she’d gotten wrong. She pulled out her Chemistry textbook that her dad had gotten her to help with her blatantly textbook-free course. She peered through the index to find information on the heat of fusion and that of vaporization. She turned to pages 173 and 198. She did the work. She understood it now. She went back to the lesson. She aced every one. She smiled.

It’s getting better.

She started doing school the next day. She had gotten a really terrible grade – 50% – on her last Algebra II quiz. She pulled over her textbook and started flipping through the index. Her sister started whining her name.

“Acey…Acey…Ace…Ace…Acey…” ad nauseum.

Letting out an exasperated huff, Acey grunted out, “What?”

“I need help with this thing on Word. I can’t get the color of the words to change.”

“Have you used Word before?” Acey flicked her eyes up from her textbook, momentarily changing her focus.

“Of course I have!” her sister cried indignantly.

“Well then, do you know how to change the font?”


Acey closed her eyes and put her fingers to the bridge of her nose. Breathe in, breathe out. Her blood sugar was low; she hadn’t eaten since dinner last night, and that was only a small amount. She was actually just trying to focus on getting everything to look alright, even it if really wasn’t. She couldn’t let her grades drop any more. She wouldn’t let it happen. She couldn’t.

She started explaining how to change the fonts in Word. Her sister was silent.

“Anything else?” Acey asked.

“Um…sorry, I wasn’t listening.”

Acey’s jaw tensed. “Okay, idiot, here’s how you do it: go to the ‘Home’ tab, look under fonts, and change the stupid font!”

Acey’s eyes were back on the textbook, her brain was once more on the polynomial. Her sister was silent, tense, waiting. She growled out between gritted teeth, “If you call me an idiot ever again, I’ll rip your head off!”

Acey looked up, slightly startled.

“I’m telling Mommy and Daddy when they get back! I hate you! You’re the worst sister in the WORLD!” her sister practically screamed.

Acey was a bit surprised that her sister had that much rage inside of her, but she was nonetheless calm and collected.

“Whatever,” came the smooth reply.

Acey turned back to her school.

While learning Algebra, Acey had a tendency to get stuck in a rut, so to speak. She would learn it, but get bored with learning and go do something else while she was supposed to be doing school. She’d blow it off and then she’d fail her quiz. The reason for this seemed very obvious to her. To fix it all she’d need to do is work harder. But then, every once in a while, she’d get this section where she couldn’t just figure it out on her own. She needed help. Needing help was as much of a blow to Acey as being called an idiot was to her little sister. Acey did not want to need help.

Her attention span was very limited. It started to worry her. She wasn’t ADHD, was she? No. She knew kids like that. She wasn’t one of them, she wasn’t like that.

A small bird flits softly around the bulb of a tulip, just poking it’s head up for one of those warm days in February that never really last. The snow is still present on the ground, blindingly bright from the sunlight reflecting off of it. The sky is a bright, clear blue, and the air is warm. The snow and ice are only an inch thick at most, and in patches they’re melting away. The ground is soggy and wet. Two figures stand in the middle of the mess, one holding a clipboard and pen, the other scratching his salt-and-pepper beard.

“I don’t know, Josh, I just don’t know,” the salt-and-pepper man said, turning to face his companion. “How can we keep this up if they’re opening a new branch just two blocks down? No one will want to bother coming this far off the highway now that they’re here!”

Written on the clipboard were scribbled notes alongside the margin of some contracting forms.

That section above about the two men during February is a little bit of Acey’s writing. It never goes anywhere. She always stops after a while when she gets bored. Currently, it’s 2:10 pm on a Wednesday. Acey, her two sisters, and her mother are going to see the new Hunger Games movie. Actually, they’re seeing a double header of the previously released one followed by the most recent one. Acey’s stomach keeps growling and her head feels light and fluffy like the clouds. She hasn’t eaten since the night before. That sounds almost poetic.


The lie that seems so simple, yet

It’s said so many times

It’s a wonder they haven’t found out yet

The warning bells haven’t chimed


While stomachs grumble and thoughts are dark

The outside is cloud nine

The parents ask, “Are you okay?”

The children reply, “I’m fine,”


Acey went to see ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’ with her family.

She watched Katniss. She saw her. She saw a strong, independent woman.

She changed her mind. She turned around. She flipped her sails.

She is not anorexic. She is strong.


Why do people become anorexic? It’s tricky, see, just like all mental illnesses. Most often, however, the afflicted become so out of hatred for something. Some hate their body, some hate their parents, and some hate their minds and souls. Those who hate their body only stop eating out of lust for an unachievable daydream of thin-perfection. Those who hate their parents stop eating to punish those watching them die. Those who hate their minds and souls, however, they stop eating out of boredom with life. They don’t care anymore. They’re a bit suicidal, yes, but most of all they’re depressed. Depressed like a foam mattress after you sleep on it. Depressed like a valley in between two mountains. They must climb out of that valley, over those mountains, and to the tops of the highest peaks to see how far they’ve come. They must give up hope of seeing everything from in a rut and climb upwards, towards the sky.

They must shoot for the stars. That way, if they miss, they’ve reached the moon.


It’s strange how those we fear the most are often those who can help us. We fear our parents finding out about our sadness, fear, etc., but they can help us more than we can believe. We fear our friends, scared to think we might lose them, but often just being with them helps so much. More than you can believe.


Life is not a straight line from birth to death with college, marriage, and family in between. Life is a mixed up tangle of yarn that you must unwind slowly and easily, and sometimes you have to change strings. But that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s perfectly fine. Some never have to change strings because out of luck they chose the right one to begin with. Others start out fine, but lose their way. It’s all perfectly natural to feel like you’re lost. Everyone is, to start.


This story is not the story of a depressed, anorexic girl finding her way out of the woods. This is a story about how you, the reader, have come to understand others in a way you probably never thought you could.


Underneath a willow tree

While softly smoking a pipe

Sat an old man, maybe seventy

Pondering over his life


He thought and thought and thought some more

He thought so many times

That he concluded that life was a chore

And all of his loves were lies


He’d looked for answers in his mind

In his very soul

But that’s not where they are to find

It’s not where they are at all


His answers, while so dear to him,

Were right in front of his eyes

Had he looked up, to bright from dim

He wouldn’t have found any lies


For life is but a short, sweet ride

But blessed we are to have it

But that old man, he had died

To be honest, he had quit


Acey, being the gifted girl that she was, had a great ease with learning languages. She wasn’t extraordinarily gifted in one particular language, see, but she could learn them easily. She’d been taking French for nigh on 3 years now, but she was getting bored with the sound of it. She’d been taking Danish on her own and she loved the ease of the language and the way that it was so simple, but the language that she really fell in love with was Italian. She loved the way the words flowed and sentences sounded. It was like music to her ears. Plus, her dad knew it.


The whole fam was going up to Cook Forest State Park for the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. They could do that because their schedules were, more or less, able to bend to their will. Of course, that did mean that they’d have to use their two days off (Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after it) to do school on, but hey, better than no vacation, right? Right. Oh, yeah, but to make sure they wouldn’t get behind, they had to do all their extra catching up with school before they left, not after. So that was why, on November 20th, 2015, Acey Garfield was plowing through some extra school. Earlier that day, she’d had to call her math teacher, Mr. Weyand, to review before her Unit Test. She called, she reviewed, and she was tired of talking to people. However, while the phone was passed to Mr. Flor, her English teacher, she learned that she had received the ‘Student of the Month’ award, which was pretty sweet. She had told her parents, of course, and she’d been promised a lovely ice-cream treat later that day. Ah, the joys of being the good kid in the family.

So, she’d been reviewing for a Unit Test, right? Yes, she was. In fact, she was taking that Unit Test that very day. She was also going to be pretty risky and not get her dad, a Software Engineer who was really good with Algebra, to help her. She was going to do it herself. For about a minute she just stared at the screen with its ‘Click to start the test’ button. She took a deep breath. She closed her eyes, folded her hands, and prayed to God to help her at least make her dad proud. She took one last look at the screen, closed her eyes, and clicked start.

Pages flipped around, messy equations were scrawled hastily, sideways, upside-down, diagonal to the lines of the notebook paper. A heart beat faster than normal, just slightly enough for the being with the heart to notice, but not enough for it to care.

‘Submit the test’

‘Are you sure?’

Sure as I’ll ever be.

The screen was blank for a deadly half-second. The heart had stopped.


Lungs let out their air as a huge grin spread from ear to ear across a face. Eyes closed and ‘Thank you’ was whispered in a wave of relief. Her grade was improving.


You know, Acey didn’t really like sports. To be honest, she didn’t really like games, either. The whole competitiveness of it always threw her for a loop. See, she didn’t mind games like ‘Go Fish’ or even really ‘Monopoly’, but anything more complicated than that just lost her interest after the rules were said. It’s not that she couldn’t understand them, see, she just didn’t enjoy them. She sort of liked Sudoku, but after a while that just got boring and frustrating. What she really loved doing, but wouldn’t really admit to anyone, was role-playing. Sort of like playing pretend but just an older-kid version. She and her sister used to play them all the time, pretending they were cats and tigers and other fierce beasts of the wild jungle. It was fun for her. There weren’t any rules, really, and you could be whoever you wanted to be. Acey liked that.

The strange realization that you’re okay, you’ve always been okay, and that is totally okay to be okay.


Thanksgiving came and went. After eating mighty portions of everything (including pie), Acey, out of curiosity, weighed herself in her grandma’s bathroom. She thought she was at least 143 lbs., even with the strange restricting-y diet she’d adopted a while back.

She weighed in at 138 lbs.

This slightly startled her and she made sure to eat enough the next day. She wanted to be healthy, not necessarily skinny.

She’d found the root of the problem and cut out that cancerous growth called anorexia. She doesn’t want anyone to ever, ever, ever do that to themselves. She wants to become a mental health professional and help teenage girls save themselves from themselves. It’s horrid, it is.


Acey is me.

The End

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