I remember everything— each space on the calendar crossed out in permanent marker but never forgotten.

I remember every before and after, every minute that has passed by my irises with the impatience of speeding cars on the interstate. I keep my hands permanently cupped so that memories cannot slip through the cracks in my fingers, tea spilling from my grandmother’s cracked porcelain. Every heartbeat that has silently taken refuge under the rug, every breath I spent wondering what it would be like if I peeked out and saw the soles of the feet that have replaced the metronome of my steps.

I am building a life out of the sound of my own laughter echoing down walls painted by the artist of morning light. My heart is a kaleidoscope house with mirrors I peer into and find older versions of myself, silhouettes of smaller dreamers with eyes that could ignite the world with the gentle flutter of a blink.

I am dressed up as Tinkerbell for my first birthday, fairy green and sparkling. Pictures are taken, kisses on pink cheeks and soft feet. Growing up is not an option. Blink. I am 5 years old and missing my front teeth, crying lava on the bus ride to school as my mother’s familiar face shrinks through the frosted window. No matter how hard I squint, she is still just a dot on the sidewalk waiting for me to come home. Blink. I am eight years old and playing with Barbie dolls on my bedroom carpet, crayons scattered all over my bed and my imagination sprinting across the baby pink walls faster than I can keep up with it. Blink. Thirteen hurts a lot more than scraping knees on uneven sidewalks. My own tears begin to taste like the beginnings of a broken heart. Blink. Blink. Blink.

I am sixteen and in love. The kind that holds my breath hostage in its arms, the kind that knows my name like the lyric of a song memorized in past lives. My hopes remain suspended twenty thousand feet in the air, fearless and spontaneous. There are flowers growing wildly in the way that I love him, in the way I see myself waiting for a thousand years to have this forever. The taste of happiness has finally made its way into my morning coffee.

And as much as they wanted me to live in Neverland forever, I have finally found the door to where my heart lives. Every moment is a volume. Every day is a masterpiece hung intentionally on the wall for the world to see, for my own hungry eyes to catch a glimpse of now.

Blink. It is time.

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