June 4, 2013


Beyond the Cover

By Shayla S


Glaring, sharp eyes,

They circle me, hands tightly held, jailing me with their opinions.

Loudly they jeer,

Their words like strong hands to my throat.


Suffocating with each judgement,

There is no escape, no room to breath. 

In the middle of their trap, I sit,

For days, weeks, months on end, weak and fragile.


Until the fire inside ignites in me,

I stand up, they’re too shocked to stop me.

Pushing right through, breaking their chain of hands,

I scamper home, head down, eyes glued to the floor.


Swinging the door open, I let it bang, then yell.

The loud crash masks my desperate screams.

Stomping into the bathroom, looking straight into the mirror,

I shove everything off the counter, and stare straight into my own eyes.


Searching deep, as if my eyeballs contain the answers,

Are their insults the truth?

Am I who they say I am?

Does what I look like, determine who I am?


Running my fingers,

Along the cold blank mirror,

I search for a way,

To change the reflection.


Feeling the smooth, glossy pages of a magazine,

What do I need to do, to enter this picture perfect world?

Rosy cheeks, my biggest, sparkliest smile,

Skinny, clean, perfect, to be just like them?


I walk outside, face the crowd at my door.

“Shallow!” they chant.

“Materialistic!” they cry out.

“Dumb!” At the last word, I run back in.


My eyes, lined as dark circles,

Like infinite black holes,

Staring straight, no emotion.

My lips dark, closed tight together.


Outside to brave the crowd once more, 

“Emo!” they yell.

“Goth!” they cheer.

“No soul!” they accuse.


Walking back in reflectively, closing the door behind me,

I know I am none of those things.

Removing everything;

A blank slate on the canvas that is my appearance.


Colors, colors flying everywhere.

My face becomes a work of art.

Crazy designs splash my clothes.

Things considered “different” to society.


Before leaving, I brace myself.

“What is that?” they question this time.

“It’s not right!” they determine.

“People don’t dress like that!” 


Running back in, fed up, I slam the door shut.

They talk so loud, so proud, but none know me.

Strangers looking for some fun,

They turn me into their punching bag.


But it is only because I give in.

Those eternities in their circle, I stayed.

Changing myself to please them,

I’ve never pleased myself.


Those faces I tried on,

I didn’t like any.

Not even the perfect girl,

Was how I really wanted to look, who I really wanted to be.


Refreshing water cleansing my face, changing back into my regular clothes,

I hurry as fast as I can, anticipating.

Before going out,

I take once last look through the cold mirror.


It is surprising, the person I see.

Natural, just her, alone.

Interesting, but on first glance,

I do not know her.


Taking a deep breath, I march out,

Head high for the very first time.

Their gasps fly up into the sky and into my ears,

But I stay standing.


Confidently, I stride.

Right past the whispering crowd,

I look them each straight in the eye,

But none say a word.


“This is me!

You don’t speak,

Because you don’t know!

You don’t know who I am!


My personality, my values, my intelligence,

The person I am inside,

You’ll never know from how I look, 

Or what I’m wearing that day!


Do you want to know me?

Are you really interested, or just bored?

If you care, get to know me first.

Then we’ll make our judgements.”


Infinite silence follows, 

Leaving me questioning my words.

Until the first clap begins, 

And the crowd fills as a sea of applause.


Some apologize,

Some turn up their noses and go home,

Some remember how it felt for them,

Being judged before known.


Of course they don’t all agree,

Of course I’ve lost “friends”,

But the people who care will come,

Because they know the things that matter.


And now, so do I.

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© 2019 by Shayla Sandoval


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