A rejected submission I’ve decided belongs here.
I know we are made of stardust. There is evidence which tells us that the iron in our blood and calcium in our bones came from explosions in the spacious void. There is the hydrogen in the water that floats through our systems and the carbon in our very genes. Stars rose and fell for our bodies.
While my body might be the product of stars my mind is not.
It is made of echoes of the past. The touch of cold aluminum as Mamá wrapped it around my abdomen to help the stomach ache I had. The scent of citrus I’ve come to associate with the green prior to autumn. The hot tears that leaked from my eyes as I stood holding a book above my head in a corner.
My mind is not stardust. My mind is a cramped room.
In it there are words upon words written on the walls. Some are small and bright, retelling the praises and hopes I heard as a child. They are written in two languages. The unsteady handwriting has a healthy balance between Spanish and English. The newer phrases, recently recalled and easily attributed, are written quickly in a messy scrawl and are all in English. Any Spanish words here are specified to have been read but never heard.
If you were to look at one side of the room you would find emptiness. The walls here are blank but when certain aromas or words are spoken, they glow with endless messages. Memories play back here and fill the room with past arguments and fights.
My mind doesn’t care for the stardust in my body. There is no room for it on the walls.
The bodies outside my own do not recognize the illness of my mind. They think the will stronger. They think that if the body does not reflect pain then there isn’t anything wrong.
As the eldest daughter there are things which are expected of me. I must clean, I must cook, I must stay silent and never speak out of turn. I live with a family that tells me I am a parasite if I do not do these things. If I speak up my opinions hold no weight because I do not contribute to the family in this way. My contributions are my actions and my inactions.
Have you swept today? No you didn’t. There’s dust everywhere.
This is over-cooked. Why can’t you do anything?
What are you eating? That’s a lazy man’s dinner.
Don’t have children. If you can’t take care of an apartment then you can’t take care of a child.
As a sister, I’m meant to care for my siblings because if my mother isn’t here, I have a duty to them.
Why didn’t you wake your brother? It doesn’t matter if he didn’t set his alarm, you should have known he had to go work.
Stop arguing with your sister. It doesn’t matter what she said, you’re too sensitive.
As a child of immigrant parents I’m meant to succeed and represent a community for others to realize our potential.
No, you can’t work. Your priority is school.
Why aren’t you working yet? Where have you applied? What did you write down that they didn’t like?
I am meant to do things. This much my mind understands but the room is too crowded. There are voices and words and everyone telling me things that I need to do.
You’re not overweight but you should probably lose a couple pounds.
Why aren’t you eating? What do you mean you’re not hungry?
Those books have rotted your brain.
Why are you watching TV? Go read a book.
You’re completely healthy, why aren’t you outside doing anything?
You’re not allowed to come home late. If you don’t want to be here then don’t bother coming back.
That doesn’t exist.
What do you have to be anxious for?
You don’t know what abuse is.
Why can’t you just be normal?
When the words are too much, I turn to my hands. They are calloused and they are worn but they can work. They can type and hold a pencil or a pen. They can write new words and ideas on my walls.
It’s a process.
I can forget the voices, the stardust, and everything else.
All I need to do is concentrate on my hands. They are used to routine. Even if it’s difficult to begin, they will slowly get used to whatever I make them do.