Be­tween Heaven and Hell There is For­ever 21

CLAIRE MILLER-HARDER

Room Magazine - - WILSON-YANG -

Age nine. In some cramped cabin in Hope, there is a hazy por­trait of me. Awk­ward; long limbs and knobby knees, translu­cent skin, bunny teeth. Learn­ing how to be away from home, away from my mother, and how to eat chicken noo­dle soup around a camp­fire. En­coun­ter­ing God for the first time at this Bi­ble camp, and also—men. The man is the life­guard. Older than me. It hurts. It hurts a lot, but I don’t say so. I don’t say no.

This isn’t some­thing I think about, but it’s some­thing that hap­pened. My friends and fam­ily know. We don’t talk about it. It’s a scene paused on the VCR and I am too scared to press play.

But last week I found the shirt.

For­ever 21 at Guild­ford Town Cen­tre. Madi saw it first and looked at me, her lips tight in a straight line. The shirt was neon, tacky, dis­gust­ing. Sum­mer Camp Champ, the shirt said, bright pink against the or­ange set­ting sun. It was thirty dol­lars. I bought it. I wear it. I smile. Sum­mer Camp Champ. It’s all over. You made it to this day, this For­ever 21, this shirt. You made it here. You be­long just as much as any­one.

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