by SM Colgan


TW: Self-Harm


They  can  see  it  when  they  look  at  me.  I  am  certain  of  it.  There  is  some  physical  sign  which gives  the  game  away.  Like  skin  stretched  taut  over  the  bones  of  my  face,  or  rib  outlines evident beneath a too-thin shirt. As if I am suffering from some dreadful wasting disease, the aspects  of  myself  each  crumbling  away.  They  glance  at  me  and  take  in  the  whole,  the unhealthy, unsocial truth of my being.

But what I suffer from is not bacterial, or viral, or vaguely infectious in any way.

And  yet  they  see  it  all  the  same.  The  truth  of  it  is  in  their  flickering  glances,  skittish  horses about to bolt.

By my seventeenth summer I had learned to compose myself, to hide the unedifying truth. By my twenty-third, that skill, too, had fallen away, the undermined mass beneath revealed. The mirror reveals a young woman in what would once have been termed “robust health”. Now  she  is,  perhaps,  mildly  overweight.  Zero  points  of  attraction,  a  big  plain  face.  Nothing like the walking wraith she feels herself to be, picking her way over a battlefield, held together with blood-stained bandages and too much morphine.



SM Colgan (she/her) is a bi writer somewhere in Ireland. Her work focuses on emotion, history, sexuality, and relationships, romantic and otherwise. She writes to understand people who are and have been, and to ease the yearning in her heart. Twitter: @burnpyregorse.





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