Photo by: Miguel Gonzalez

Trigger warning: mentions of wounds and grazes

There is a burning sensation rising from my ribs, a sting keen enough to draw soft hisses each time my curious fingers graze the inflamed skin.

In the shower, I realised I didn’t just get hurt: I actually managed to scratch myself to the point of leaving marks. It’s usually what happens when I let my nails grow out: dotted red lines, like constellations, start meandering across my body.

“Much of your pain is self-chosen.” wrote Kahlil Gibran.

My fingers press a little harder on the swollen skin, stopping at the rigidness of the rib bone. The pain is sharper, but still burning somewhere along the pleasure-pain scale. It is the kind of minor pain that lights your consciousness, that offers a heightened sensitivity to life and to the experience of it.

You know, I chose to like him.

I chose the 5-hour long conversations, the crazed 2 a.m. ramblings, and the delicious warmth of not-quite-friends. I chose my pain when I chose my joy: that is how these things work. But it’s not quite pain, not a devastation; I haven’t cried for him though I’ve sighed into many golden afternoons and blue nights. It is not pain but rather something more faded, subdued.

Newspaper clippings of past moments. Out of focus memories. The smudged ink of this dying story.

It stings but not quite enough to truly hurt, the pinprick of it a proof that I have lived.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. Yes, very much so.

So long, O.

As always, I hope you’re doing beautifully! I found this interesting little article about the pleasure-pain idea:

Breakup songs.

“Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.”

I am learning to listen to my unconscious mind and self. And all it wants to listen to right now is breakup songs. When my conscious mind slips in transit somewhere beyond the scenery, my fingers all-too naturally reach for the melancholy songs, the blue shelves of lonesome piano music and scratchy records, featuring voices hoarse and grainy from withheld tears.

I can remember the good old days //  when you and me used to hide away

I wake up to these and an emptiness when I reach my stop, like something has been clawed from me. As though someone had amused themselves to a claw machine game in my chest and had come out victorious, against all odds.

‘But don’t you know claw machines are rigged?’, some part of me accuses, ‘you only win if they let you.’

So who’d you let win? Who’d you let in?

We don’t, we don’t need to talk about this now // Yeah we’ve been down that road before

All day, this feeling follows me, all blue and shadowy. It trails behind my laughter and cuts my smiles short; it pulls a greyness from inside of me and makes me wear it like a truth. Like a sweater in the summer, it is, on its own, a statement piece : something that lets everyone know how I feel.

But I am perfectly alright. And it’s not a breakup! It’s not.

…not really.

I mean, it’s not a breakup if the other person was a friend.


It’s not, it’s not. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be.

But it is, isn’t it?

And that’s what hurts most, what you run away from : the absurdity. How it should never have happened at all, never could or would have but it still did. Against all odds.

The crowds in my heart they’ve been calling out your name, but it just don’t feel the same

So it’s easier to deny, to make yourself think that needing to wear a sweater in the summer is nothing, least of all a sign of an inner ailment. Because if it hurts, you have to heal it and the healing hurts worst of all.

You were a moment in life that comes and goes // A riddle, a rhyme that no one knows // A change of a heart, a twist of fate // Couldn’t fix it, it’s too late

Then comes the violent hatred most people don’t move on from, like an infection that festers and remains uncleaned all through life. But I can’t do that, can I? I am still young, and I will not deprive myself of others just because of you. You’ve had your time and you’ve had your piece and I suppose I have, too.

I guess it’s over, yeah we’re done 

And so it is that I’ve been listening and listening and listening to these songs. All the while cleaning out the fragments of you that are left over, like picking out bits of gravel from a skinned knee. It will scar, yes. And it might hurt, little phantom aches or very specific pain when it rains or when I watch a movie that reminds me of you.

But it’s okay. Somehow, I can say that it is. I will be alright.

Note: This is Day 8 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. 4 days behind schedule, still trying to catch up! Find my entry for Day 7 here.


Young Adult Old Soul magic realism writing Agata Wierzbicka
Art by: Agata Wierzbicka

I may be mistaken, but I think that the next part of my journey will be to set myself up for pain.

Because the pain carves the way for something deeper. It makes you fall apart at 2 a.m., strips away your layers, leaves you naked and shivering. And it is in this state, where everything else has been taken from you that you find yourself. The parts of you that you hid away so well you forgot about them. The tenderness, the undiluted emotion. The raw material that logic has not been applied to, that insecurities have not yet marred. Your emotions before they are dissolved in decency and the learned behaviour of: “I shouldn’t think that.”. Something true. So true that you had to hide it from the world for fear of it being plundered.

At this point, when the world is looking for your weakness, you join in the search and say: “I’ll help.”

Because you cannot have a fragile heart in a world this tough. You do not need a heart that flinches at the mere mention of pain. So you go against every learned reflex, every survival instinct and coping mechanism that has helped you throughout the years. You rise from the fetal position, square your shoulders, lift your gaze and look Life right in the eye. And when every last cell in your body is getting ready to fight, you surrender.

Aching and tender. Vulnerable.

“Do what you want,” You say “and I’ll do my best to survive.”

Because the aim in Life is not to remain unhurt. It is not to live and age on the same patch of earth, unchanged. Life is a metamorphosis. Just think, we are clay after all, how disappointing would it be if we never moulded ourselves into anything? And it is under pressure, as we are spun around that we gain shape. Otherwise, we are just a potential something. Otherwise, we are only could-be’s and maybes that will never live to see the world truly, as much as we are able.


Hey, remember when?

“For a while, all memories of you were dyed in pain. It always stung, always hurt. At times, it would sit on me like a boulder, this grief, and I would consider the weight on my chest, and like anyone with a boulder on their chest, I would ask myself if it was really happening. “

Art by: Unknown Artist

I remember you.

I remember the way you used to talk, the way you used to laugh.
And this is new.

For a while, all memories of you were dyed in pain. It always stung, always hurt. At times, it would sit on me like a boulder, this grief, and I would consider the weight on my chest, and like anyone with a boulder on their chest, I would ask myself if it was really happening. Other times, it would be just a pinch, some sharp pain that faded fast. But I would keep rubbing the phantom ache away, not having anyone to glare at for causing it.

Today, there was nothing of that.

Today, I made a joke about how you’d react to my brother’s new haircut.
I spoke as if I were you.
I laughed with all the others who knew you afterwards.

I think the pain from all those times, it was from thinking that your memory would die, too. Like I’d lose everything of you, not just your sarcasm or your kind eyes, but the warmth when I think of you, too. I thought because it hurt so much to have you taken from me, that everything good goes away one day.

But today, I spoke as if I were you.

You see, before, I grieved you.

Now, now, I remember you.

And in the midst of all the emptiness you left behind, that is the sweetest difference.