By: Abbey Roschak

Age is just a number
We all start out at one
But someone’s first year
Is another’s seventh
Their neighbor’s eleventh
My fifteenth

I spent my thirteenth
Thinking of my fourteenth
Praying for my fifteenth
But I didn’t think it’d turn out like this

Mirrors are reflections that have us believe
They mirror what we don’t want to see
A defect in my eyes 
Led to Sunday night cries
And picture-perfect lullabies

I hummed the rhythm of my musical stomach
Which made me go to sleep
I beat the drum of my self-worth
Which left purple bruises
And a strong flinch reflex

I ran to the sound of my sloshing ears
Which were deaf to compliments
But sharp to insults
I strummed mascara across my lashes
To take away from my summer rashes

But none of my songs
Could stop my body from harm
For I still became diseased
When I turned fifteen
And my belittling ways
That I had total control over
Turned into involuntary feelings
And incorrectly-fit jeans

I used to pray for a slim waist
But now I beg for a day 
Where I don’t waste away
I took for granted things I had forgotten
Like running half a mile
And soaking up the sun
But now my mind is the athlete
And the sun makes me melt

I strived for a gap between my thighs
Until the only thing holding them together
Were loosely fit bottoms
For my shame of an unknown illness
Took up more space
Than my thighs ever will

I starved myself of needed nutrients
So that I could feel thin
Until my body stopped absorbing them
I beat myself up for not being pretty enough
Until my cheeks became potholes
And my eyes became placeholders
For the marks of heavy hands
Like mine that bow down in the silence
Of permanently staying silent

When you’re fifteen,
You feel that life is so mean
Because you got your heart broken
And that guy wasn’t quite your token
Your parents don’t understand
Why you hate yourself so bad

But when you’re fifteen
And feel stripped of your teens
You’ll see that nothing hurts more
Than something you cannot stop
And your mother will do everything she can
To stop your trembling hands
And here I am at seventeen
Wishing I could go back
And change how selfish I was
But I can’t, because we all make mistakes
Some just eat at you a little longer
Because when I was fifteen,
I spent it learning about Graves’ Disease
And why it made me age
But turning sixteen marked a milestone
And seventeen reminded me of my strength
And that’s better than seeing your bones