Selfish

 

Kylie Lynch

It is true that I love myself more than I love a lot of people. I think that it makes me stronger, but my mom tells me that it makes me selfish. Yet, I have left parts of myself in countries she has never visited. Two-ninths of my heart is on a park bench in London, secreted in dried bubble gum and rainwater. The other seven parts are scattered somewhere between a sidewalk crack in Ohio and the bottom of Loch Ness. Sometimes I wonder if 4,000 miles is too far of a distance to travel for a scavenger hunt. But I don’t think it is. Maybe I will look for me one day.

 

It is true that I have been sexually assaulted two and a half times. The half comes from the unsolicited pelvic exam I was given at the doctor when I was fifteen. I don’t think that it counts as a whole time because he was a doctor and he was old and he seemed smart, but I said no and my mom wasn’t in the room. The other two times were for real. I know they count because I googled the definition of sexual assault and read my biography on every link.

 

It is true that Christmas lights look prettier with my glasses off. I like how the colors blur together and turn my vision into a kaleidoscope of cold and light and color. 

 

It is true that I don’t like fruit very much. The acidity and the sweetness make me feel sick. Oranges give me heart burn if I eat them too early in the morning. And sometimes I’ll have green beans for breakfast because I like them better than strawberries. But, green beans out of the can remind me of my alcoholic grandmother’s house and the ache in your eyes after watching TV for hours. And the sound of SpongeBob’s laugh and bottles falling off the counter. So, I like green beans better fresh. 

 

It is true that I don’t have feeling in my left pinky toe and that I don’t know where it went. I think it’s probably under that London park bench with a lot of sadness and bird shit keeping it company.

 

It is true that I have never been to China. I have never seen the great wall. I have never touched anything older than memory. I don’t think I want to go to China, though. I’m scared of primary pollutants and people and I think there are a lot of both there. 

 

It is true that the first time I made my knuckles bleed was when I was ten. My mom had cancer and I didn’t want her to die. I would say, “My mom’s cancer won’t get worse—she won’t die”out loud to the stale air of my yellow bathroom. Then I’d knock on the laminate wood counter because it is good to knock on wood when you don’t want something to happen. Most often I’d say it seven times in a row. I thought that if I said it an even number, each statement would cancel each other out and that if I said it only three times, the universe would think I didn’t want my mom bad enough and if I knocked with a number that wasn’t prime, her cancer would multiply and then our family would be divided. One time I knocked ninety-seven times. 

 

It is true that I am homesick more often than I am not.

 

It is true that rain hurts my sister’s knees even though she’s seventeen. She can also feel the ache in her elbows. Her joints tell her each morning if it is going to rain, so I think she’s been in a lot of pain since we moved to England. She’s small and she’s wise. Arthritis likes her company and so do I. 

 

It is true that I found a lump under my armpit one time. 

It is true that I found the lump two months ago.

It is true that the doctor said it would go away in a week.

It is true that it is still there.

It is true that I am scared.

 

It is true that the first time I felt fat was when I was eight years old. We were having a yard sale and it was a Saturday. I remember putting on a blue tank top that was a mixture of polyester and spandex and looking at my round belly in the mirror. I stared at myself for a long time. Mac Salter from my third grade class said he was coming to the yard sale because he had just moved into the neighborhood and his mom wanted to make mom friends. I sat next to him in Mr. Adair’s class and sometimes he would let me use his glue stick when we made collages. He had the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen. I changed my shirt into one that was loose, but Mac Salter didn’t come. 

 

It is true that one time I watched an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where a little girl had cancer and the camera panned to Ty Pennington running his fingers through her hair and clumps of it came out. The same night I went to take a shower and some of my hair fell out in my hands like hers so after my shower I filled the sink with dial soap and hot water because my mom said it’s the best soap to keep you healthy. They used it in the Ronald McDonald house when her brother had leukemia so we used it at my house too. I thought I had cancer but my mom said I didn’t and then we laughed but she was crying at the same time. 

Kylie Lynch is a poet, creative non-fiction writer, and avid feminist. Her work has been published in the Austin International Poetry Festival Anthology. When she's not at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Kylie is attempting to do yoga, petting a stranger’s dog, or wearing socks with animals on them. She lives in London, England.

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