Debunking the Butterfly Effect


Born between entropy and atrophy, I scream as if I have every right to.


Still jaundiced as the dawn’s blistered palm, my first phase references the mediocrity of myth, crescent teeth waning gibbous tongue; I tell my mother the man in the moon knows my middle name.


Omniscient as God, I bounce around the baby seat on the back of my mother’s bike. Our street would fit in the top shelf of a China Cabinet.


I twirl around my room, steps asymmetrical as an analog signal, fingers curled into fists like the magnetic tape inside of cassettes. Tomorrow, I will watch televangelists with eyes like arrowheads auction off God’s green card in indefinite installments of $19.99 with the sitter while the other children nap and don’t appreciate such things.


The teacher makes me student of the week more than once but I don’t like to lead the line.


I perform an appendectomy on Barbie, one of her pink plastic pumps serving as the scalpel, barricade the decapitated Ken doll from the Dream House door with tiny teal cups from the tea set my sister never wanted.


I have six pairs of lace-trimmed socks and two cherry alligator clips, as well as the worst handwriting in the class. I staple seven sheets of coral construction paper, come to my mother clutching at the color. I have taken it upon myself to recount the birth of a bird in cloud-spat blue block letters. No one except the wind had such irascible wrists.


I get my first library card, dry dandelions between the page breaks. I hope to grow my hair down to my hipbones or heels, to go to bed hungry like the gilded girls flitting through a thousand forests in perfect asymmetry.


The school nurse passes a maxi pad, pink as Poland, around the room, tells us we were born with all the eggs we’d ever need to make babies already in our ovaries. Watching myself wince in the space between the mirror and me, I decide something as brutal as girlhood isn’t meant to be discrete.


My rapid eye movement follows the Fibonacci sequence; I dream between catechism and chasm. My friend and I cover the grave of another class’s guinea pig with pine needles during recess, cry as if we have every right to.


I teach myself elementary Latin and intermediate American Sign Language, shiver through another lesson in almost. I coerce myself into a crush on a boy with eyes like India, although his mouth may be the biggest impact crater on this side of ephemera, and despite him thinking Anna McPherson is prettier and telling me so.

So much of our love is convinced.


I speak softer than the Seine, shuffle the heels of my hands, skid through the hallways in silver Mary Janes, shudder in a beige bathroom stall for the first fifteen minutes of Friday afternoon gym, cradle my skull between both forefingers and thumbs, act as the archeologist of my own anonymity.


The boy behind me in English class calls me Auschwitz after we discuss the diary of Anne Frank, insists the department stores don’t make skinny jeans skinny enough for me. The half-life of anorexia is always; I shiver between oxidation numbers, metacarpals one electron reduction below destabilization.


Seventy-six pounds of gossamer and syncope, I show up for my first day at the local arts high school in a checkered skirt from the children’s department, enchant my classmates with my squeaky voice and squeaky shoes.


Gawky and static as a grade school graduation, no one points but everyone stares at my clavicle breaking into blossom like a lilac or the long hair of a headstone from my rotting body.


The smaller that I get, the larger the slouching city where I sleep seems, its decaffeinated expressways brighter and emptier than me. I spend six months in the hospital, grow as if I have every right to.


My class crowns me homecoming queen, but someone has to show me where I stand;

I’m not sure who I am when my hands have stopped shaking.


I swallow my shimmering dreams, wake as if I have every right to.

Laura Ingram is a tiny teen with large glasses. Her poetry and prose have been featured in thirty-three literary magazines, among them Gravel, Moledro Magazine, Allego Poetry Magazine, Cactus Heart Press, If and Only If, NoiseMedium, and Assonance Literary Magazine. Laura is a creative writing student and infrequent freelance editor. She loves Harry Potter and Harry Styles.

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