I've eaten clementines everyday, for as long as I can remember.
Sometimes they're mandarins, though.
I can't be too (t8n-time:2s)[[picky.->2]]I like them because it's all very simple:
about 50 calories.
fits in my small hands nicely.
I eat them all. Even the (t8n-time:2s)[[gross, shriveled dry ones.->3]]In school, even the teachers knew how much I liked them.
Even my classmates who otherwise never talked to me, they'd hand me their clementines from their lunch boxes when they were no longer hungry.
(t8n-time:2s)[[I wish I was no longer hungry.->4]]I was very small in school.
I am very small now.
I'm pretty sure I am, but I can't tell.
The image looking back at me is a bit warped. I see myself in a funhouse mirror, even if the (t8n-time:2s)[[joke->5]] is long over.What's so funny? Why are you laughing?
I'll be honest, I'm a bit (t8n-time:2s)[[embarrassed->6]], so please don't laugh.
I wish I had my humor back so that I could laugh with you, too.I'm long past the time when I would eat so many clementines everyday.
Now, I might (t8n-time:2s)[[eat->6.1]]
Now I live in a tiny apartment, in a tiny town, in a quiet city.
I live by myself and I dress up in my tiny clothes and I wash my tiny body everyday with care.
I walk down my tiny street and I wave to the people who look so tiny, not because they are smaller than me, but because (t8n-time:2s)[[I am so far away.->8]]Even from this distance, I feel much bigger than all:
I am taller than trees, wider than buildings.
I laugh louder than thunder, I've cried to fill oceans.
My perception plays tricks on me. I'm at the (t8n-time:2s)[[young age of twenty-three.->9]]I keep the clementine peels in a pile on my desk.
I'll throw them away later.
It's a bit paralyzing.
What if I need them? Should I bother to compost them? I'll throw them out in the morning. No, I'll do it now. I don't want pests. They won't show up overnight, right?
I'll stare at the peels for as long as I can. They'll disappear from my sight and then (t8n-time:2s)[[they will no longer exist to me.->10]]I can analyze my flaws in the funhouse mirror with sharp scrutiny.
Like a Catholic school nun, and I see my skirt too short, I give myself a slap on the wrist for being so (t8n-time:2s)[[unsightly.->10.1]]
I'll look fine in time for work, or for a trip to the store, or for saying hello to relatives who've missed me so much.
I'll look fine in time for summer, for seeing my friends, for a date I set up.
I'll look fine in time for tomorrow, for next Wednesday, for a point in the future (t8n-time:2s)[[so distant->12]] the goal seems achievable and reasonable.I've figured that I'll look my best for a high school reunion, maybe.
Or when I visit my hometown again.
Or when I'm on the bus and staring out the window in a daydream, hoping (t8n-time:2s)[[a stranger will find me->13]] so beautiful he writes home about me.But I can start that tomorrow. There's no rush. I'll catch up, right?
I'll enjoy myself tonight, a (t8n-time:2s)[[fourth->13.1]] clementine.
It's been too many clementines for today.
I'll lie down in bed.
I'll stare at my phone until it hurts my head.
I'll consider texting a friend.
I'll roll (t8n-time:2s)[[over and over and over and over again.->15]]I'll seek solace in empty words from faceless mouths on a tiny screen.
I'll sleep and dream and wake up and be clean.
I'll make my bed only to make it a mess again.
I'll write my thoughts and erase them.
I'll walk outside and come back in again.
No, I'll just (t8n-time:2s)[[open my window.->16]]Even through trees, I can run far.
Even through the night, I can run far.
(t8n-time:2s)[[These are two things I know I can do.->17]]Even if big, I can hide well.
Even if tiny, I can yell loud.
(t8n-time:2s)[[These are two things I know I can do.->18]]Even in school, I can wait for the bell.
Even in a crowd, I know I can find the exit.
(t8n-time:2s)[[These are two things I know I can do.->19]]Even if I saw you again, I know that I can run
(t8n-time:2s)[[These are things I know I can do.->20]]Even if I found those woods again, I know what I can do.
Even if I saw you in a crowd again, I know what I can do.
Even if I was cornered again, I know what I can do.
(t8n-time:2s)[[I promise->21]], I know what I can do.I'll eat all the clementines my body can hold, I'll smile at the funhouse mirror and all the jokes it's told.
I'll visit my family and I'll call my friends.
(t8n-time:2s)[[I swear to god you'll never put your hands on me again.->22]]I close my window.
It's not so reasonable to be so full of hope.
I will sit at my desk and on the floor and in my bed and on the bus
and I'll think of some (t8n-time:2s)[[happy end to this mess.->23]]But for tonight I'll eat two more, maybe three. Nobody is counting them for me.
I spy the funhouse mirror, the tiny giant laughs at me. I laugh back.
I am still only twenty-three.(t8n-time:2s)[[one->6.2]]
or maybe three.
I have to stop myself now.
If I don't stop at three, (t8n-time:2s)[[I won't look the same anymore.->7]]Hair too (t8n-time:2s)[[unkempt->10.2]] -
Face is (t8n-time:2s)[[dirty->10.3]] -
An old shirt with a toothpaste (t8n-time:2s)[[stain->10.4]] -
(t8n-time:2s)[[I slap my wrist over and over again.->11]]A (t8n-time:2s)[[fifth->13.2]] clementine.
A (t8n-time:2s)[[sixth->13.3]] clementine.
A (t8n-time:2s)[[seventh->13.4]] clementine.
An eighth clementine.
The funhouse mirror repeats the (t8n-time:2s)[[same joke->14]] again and again.