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She Speaks

A Sunday story inspired by three other stories heard this week.

”He called me fat,” she says.

There is a short pause then. There is looking around.

“Are you sure? Fat? Why would he say that?”

“I don’t know why he said it. He just did.”

“Were you doing something? What were you doing?”

“Doing something to make me look fat?”

“Well,” says the teacher. “No. I mean . . . just . . . doing something to make him lash out at you?”

I don’t know if I was, thinks Emily. I don’t know if I was doing something to make him lash out at me. Can that happen? Can you do something to make a boy call you fat?

“I’ll talk to him, okay?” says her teacher.

Then softly, as if trying to comfort her, her teachers says more.

“I’ll talk to him, but you know it doesn’t matter right? It doesn’t matter what anyone says about you. It really doesn’t. You know who you are.”

“Thank you,” Emily says quietly as she turns and walks away, the rest of her words trapped in her heart and her throat and her head and pressing down so hard on her that she can barely move, like the floor is covered in thick mud, or thick fat maybe.

It is like the floor is covered in thick fat just like her.

No, I don’t know who I am. I think I must only be fat because that is all anyone seems to notice and when I ask for help nobody helps me and so yes, it does matter. It matters.

She writes all of this down on a piece of paper and then she writes more. She writes more about her body and how she hates it and how ashamed she is and how she is nothing.

She is writing about how she is nothing and nothing and nothing and then suddenly she is writing more, something else.

Suddenly she is writing about something that is deep down inside of her in a place that she can’t name and that nobody ever talks about, but that she knows is there. It is this place that she can feel and hear, but that often she ignores.

Usually it lets her. Today it does not.

Where is it? Where is this feeling and this voice that are telling her something that stops her pencil as it moves across the page, that stops her breath too.

She leans in. She listens. She feels.

It is pain, says the voice. It is a deep pain within you that is doing this, that is showing up on your body and asking you to notice it.

It is pain, says the voice, and someone should help you and it is wrong that they don’t, but they just can’t understand and so you might have to do it yourself. You might have to know, says that voice, that there is more. There is more inside of you than just pain.

She leans in. She listens. She feels.

There is love too, it says. There is love and it’s for you and you deserve it. You deserve to let it breathe and move around and melt the pain into a softness that doesn’t make a home on your body, but that just rests quietly, reminding you that hurting can be a part of you, but doesn’t have to own you.

She leans in. She listens. She feels.

It doesn’t have to own you and you aren’t fat. You are love.

Tears run down Emily’s face then and she gets up.

She walks slowly.

Words are again in her heart and her throat and her head, but not trapped this time, not pressing down so hard that she can barely move. Instead, the words are like fuel and they push her gently. They push her over to where those boys are and she stops right in front of them and they look at her.

They look at her and she leans in and she listens and she feels and then she speaks.

Her voice shakes, but she speaks.

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