When I was little, all I wanted was to be like everyone else. In elementary school, the girls I knew would show off their new dolls or play “wedding” while I watched from afar, envious. In high school, I drifted in the background, worried that I would never be as pretty or as fun or as charming as everyone else seemed to be. It took me a long time to realize that I would never be like the other girls I knew, and that was okay. I wasn’t born to be “like them.” I was born to be me. And that “me” just happens to be trapped at the bottom of the deepest, darkest well in town.
It’s taken a long time to make peace with who I am. For a while, I felt as though I was shouting at the top of my lungs but no one was listening. Then I remembered that the well into which I had tumbled was so deep that no one above its surface could hear, though I can feel the rumble of the townspeople’s footsteps above me at all hours. I had to stop thinking there was something wrong with me for not painting my nails or dressing sexy. I wasn’t defective, I was just trapped at the bottom of a well.
Sure, I’ll never have the body of the models in the fashion magazines that passersby throw down into the well because they think it is a garbage pit rather than the prison that keeps me from returning to my rightful place in society. I don’t need a mirror to know that I’m no stunner. My muscles have atrophied due to the spatial limitations of my dwelling. I lost four of my best teeth on the way down, and another from pitiful dental hygiene caused by having only strands of my own filthy hair with which to floss. I will never have those perfect, silky barrel curls, as the well lacks outlets into which to plug a curling iron. And if there were, the puddle through which I wade during all hours of the day would make the use of electrical devices incredibly dangerous. What I do have is a severe case of trench foot, the likes of which has not been seen since the Great War. And sure, that might not be typical “girly” stuff, but I refuse to let society put me in a box. A well, maybe. But definitely not a box.
I also would much rather play a sport than go shopping, as long as that sport is “climb successfully out of this accursed well” or “throw the rope that I know is too short to reach the top of the well, in the hopes that someone will notice and pull me to freedom.” And I love to eat! Whereas other girls my age are too afraid to consume anything more caloric than a tablespoon of salad dressing, I let myself eat whatever I want, whenever I want it, as long as it’s dirt. I don’t count calories or avoid carbs, and I am not certain I have much time left before my body runs out of muscle to metabolize and turns to the fatty tissue of my brain. I’m not saying this makes me any better than anyone else: it just makes me trapped at the bottom of a well.
I know it sounds weird, but I don’t even care about what boys think of me. Just like the well that has served as my jail cell for the last several months, I am not that shallow. The only “hottie” I care about these days is the sweet kiss of sunlight upon my gnarled limbs once I am once again above ground. I haven’t seen the light of day since I tripped over the comically long laces of my off-brand Doc Martens, falling and tumbling past the numerous signs and gates that serve to protect residents from accidentally entering the black pit of the town’s most cavernous and hopeless well. Did I mention I’m such a klutz?
My peers like to get their nails done every week and compare their latest Tinder hookups. I’d much rather scream at the top of my lungs until my throat grows hoarse, on the slight chance that my cries reach the outside world and I am saved. Instead of high heels and a miniskirt, I’d rather wear a metallic shock blanket around my shoulders after being lifted to safety out of this wretched well. And if that makes me “weird,” that’s fine. It’s just who I am.