by Jennifer Geisinger
First, be very hungry. Not for food, exactly, although you do have an affinity for SpaghettiOs, carefully and jaggedly cut open, poured in a Tupperware bowl, and eaten deliciously lukewarm. You will always be in turns craving and grossed out by this your entire lifetime.
Be so little and damaged and chubby, and make sure your blind grandma cuts your hair with a bowl for a template. Make sure you never ever tell anyone you want to play in the playhouse in kindergarten. Only certain girls do that, and it is most certainly not you.
Play with the puzzles, even though you hate puzzles so fucking much, so much that you will never touch them again. Take them all apart and don’t be able to put them back together and remember the rule that everybody has to clean up. You can’t clean it up because you can’t do it, but you will try and try and try—you would die trying except it is so hard and you want to go outside but you don’t want to tell anyone. You stay and try while everyone goes out to recess and when they troop back in smelling like puppies you just morph into the line. You can morph anywhere, be invisible anywhere. You just slip in and out.
Do this again and again—nobody will question you. Just don’t come in when they blow the whistle and look at the sky and wander. You are a champion wanderer. Do it for hours. Nobody will know. They only know when the school day ends and where are you? Wandering. Sorry for the trouble. Just swing your feet on a bench. They will find you. You don’t mind waiting. You are good that way.
Instead of doing the puzzle that you cannot, just sweep it under. Not with a broom but by looking both ways and putting it piece by piece under the bookshelf. Nobody will notice—maybe not ever. Never play with the pretty girls because they aren’t like you. You aren’t like them. Learn you will never fit.
Jennifer Geisinger is a writer of flash fiction, memoir, and poetry. She has been published by Parliament Literary Journal and is a recipient of the 2020 Rails to Trails poetry award. She has two young children and has a nightly habit of sitting on her porch watching the moon rise.