Dragon Slayer

There are 175 days of school in an academic year. 175 days of sixth grade, followed by 175 days of seventh grade (but really there are only 170 because of that week when you got strep throat and 168 in eight grade because you kept pretending to have the stomach flu and one day mom even let you skip because getting out of bed made you cry) So that’s really just 513 days of middle school. That’s not too bad, right?

Then there’s high school, minus that whole month of Fridays where you went home because you got mono from kissing that boy—wasn’t he pretty though? Too bad he lied about you being his first. But he called you beautiful, so so many times, you’re beautiful, really so beautiful. What a pretty thing. And you almost believed it. So really there are only about 682 days of high school before you can leave.

You wear knee high socks to the first day of school. What a pretty girl. Sweetheart, how was your day? Are the people nice? You have such nice socks—did you know they don’t match? Sweetheart, are the people nice?

Everyone knew that Piggy was going to die from the beginning of the book. It’s obvious. He’s the token victim; there was no way he was getting off of that island. We expect brutality—are the people nice? So what if he was smashed by boulders? We all saw that coming. Now, the real surprise was Simon….

You plan on coming back. You plan on leaving for many years and then coming back. You plan on wandering Honali in search of dragons. A dragon lives forever, but not so little girls. You plan on having children. You plan on having pretty girls. You plan on living down the street from your mother and your father and your aunt. You plan on getting married.

You plan all your outfits for the week on Sunday evening. Burgundy is the fall’s It color. How to get the natural look, boys like that. Aren’t the people nice? You wear mismatched socks and dye your hair pink.

You’re 5’2”. They tell you you can’t come to the fair with them. You are too short for the best roller coasters. That’s okay, she’ll have another birthday. We’ll turn 13 together. Then maybe you can come. You know it isn’t true. You see little kids on the ferris wheel—keep your hands and feet inside the car, please stop reaching over, those buckets can tip—you’re a fatass and that’s why they didn’t invite you. And you’re too short. Such a pretty girl. Maybe next year.

You have large breasts by now, the kind of breasts that scatter and bounce like jell-o. You don’t tell them to look, but when you see them staring, you let them. You wear thick bras that give you contours. You see them pulled into you. You let them dissolve you with their saliva from across the room in English class. You stop bouncing. You discover there are certain places on the human body where fat is allowed. You try to cut yourself up and put yourself back together. Now the people are nice.

You can wear whatever you want. You can go braless. There’s no such thing as a slut. You should feel beautiful. You should smile all the time. Your body is for you. You should remember that. You should think that all the time. You should think you’re a very very pretty girl. Aren’t the people nice?

You get your period at 9 and a half. You don’t know how to stop the bleeding. And to you He said I will make most severe your pangs, and you curl up like a coiled snake and dream of crawling back into the garden, where everything is nice and there is no pretty.

The dragon is dead. I slayed it with my own hands. Its blood ran through my fingers like molasses candy freezing against ice. I am not a princess. I am not a damsel. I am not a pretty girl. I have escaped my tower by flying through the air. I have escaped by falling. I do not mind hitting the ground. I do not mind breaking the glass box in which I live. I still don’t know how to stop the bleeding. I search for the air. I did not wake up like this. I have never been able to sleep.

Dragon blood is silver. It runs slowly like mercury thermometers split open. It burns the eyes and tastes like sin. They still tell you to swallow.

When you are 16 you dream of bleeding. You can’t tell your father. You can’t tell the boy. You are not a redeeming quality. You are not a pretty girl. You are not enough to not put out. He does not love you enough. He does not care if you bleed silver or gold. If there is something growing, you will have to kill it quickly, pull it out at the roots like a pomegranate tree in the wrong climate, like a stray hair with tweezers.

What do you want to be when you grow up? If only you could raise your hand. No one wants to listen, could we please interrupt you, please wait while we give someone else a turn, sweetheart that’s a nice thought, but maybe later. Such a pretty girl. Maybe you should lose some weight. Did you ever want to be Barbie veterinarian, or Barbie astronaut, or maybe Barbie movie star? You will need a job because who will marry you? You rip out the hairs from Barbie’s scalp one at a time and try to slice your thighs to match hers. You stretch yourself to grow taller. The people are not nice.

You grasp the Aphrodite razor and cut out your stomach until it pours into the bathtub, parting the rubber ducks like Moses on the Red Sea. You do not bleed pretty. You do not bleed silver.