Dear 15yo S.,
No one knows you; I’m the only one. Both of us both prefer it that way and long to give you a stage, but there will be time for exhibition later, when you have breasts. For now, since I can’t add you on FB, I tiptoe-pace outside your bedroom door, listen for the footsteps so you can sleep tonight, sweet one, press my time-traveled palm to the pine. Centuries of women need retrospective sentries. I do what I can for you, buy you the tampons she won’t so you can dance, prop the back door open so it won’t squeal when you sneak out for a smoke once they’ve all gone to bed. I know you’ll still sit in stony silence picking off your chipping gunmetal nail polish until the house rests at least an hour, because safety first. I hope you are writing poems in your spinning head again. I saved you a cookie after dinner, wrapped it in a napkin and put it between Plath and Sexton on your shelves. I almost say, maybe save Plath and Sexton for college?—oh, you will love college!—but you’ve already ghosted to the back porch, lit an anxious menthol, and anyway you wouldn’t listen to me. I feel tender about that, not slighted into rage like a mother. The coast is still clear. Finish slow, stub it out on a rock instead of your thigh, spend five minutes sliding the door back into its jamb because no one can be more quiet than you when you have to be. God you’d have loved Facebook, the thing I fantasize about quitting. I can see you in that gray flannel I wish I still had, spritzing yourself with CK One to cover the clingy smoke, midnighting at your computer, Tori aching through your headphones, logging on, snapping a moody b&W selfie and captioning it the oven’s still hot or I’d lay my head on it. We all need a stage. I don’t eye-roll your melodrama—all of 15 is cliché, but not as cliché as adults hating adolescents. If you ask me to, I’ll burn this whole house down except for that oven door, and give it to you, plus control of my FB account. It’s yours. Most days it feels like yours anyway. She can’t hurt us anymore. I am from where it still hurts, but she is not there, there are tampons and cigarettes and cookies and these things called emojis. I hid the razor, but of course you found it <gun emoji>. Don’t go too deep, love, or this letter will disappear like our blood.