Red

Author | Gabriella Alexis

I. Energy
During elementary school, I had to consciously build up the stamina to get out of bed.
My alarm told me good morning every day. It lied. My mother usually responded from the floor with a groan for me to shut it off, but I ignored her. She made me breakfast because that was the only event that I looked forward to, that I could count on not to disappoint me. We exchanged silent, meaningless conversations. Then I pulled on my sneakers that acted like weights. They didn't help me keep my balance at all on the bus, where the passengers had no problem with not putting on deodorant. I tried not to suffocate.

II. Passion
I used to think that everything was possible. 
Tying my blanket around my neck meant that I could fly. Somehow, in the laws of gravity, I was etched as the exception. I would jump off the three steps of our porch and hope that the wind would pick me up and set me in the car. 
In the first spelling bee we had in the school cafeteria, I lost in the third round. I finally realized that visualizing things in my head just wasn't my thing.

III. Warmth
My body seemed to generate more heat than everyone else's. I gave out plenty of hugs, but they were for physical comfort, not emotional. 
When I was six and she was 39, my mother and I bundled up in my bed like we lived in the tundra. We did this in order to binge-watch Food Network together. I couldn't cook and she couldn't bake. Not even when I was an oven.

IV. Love
Not everyone thought I was fun to be around. 
The dance was the first time someone gravitated towards me without it having to be below 70 degrees in Miami. The theme was Drug Awareness Month. We were as aware you can make fifth graders about drugs in a Catholic school without parents throwing a fit. The nuns agreed that what we didn't know wouldn't kill us.
I bought my ticket a week in advance with the excitement in the pit of my stomach. I was selfish, though. A boy in my class couldn't go to the dance because his mother couldn't afford the ticket. I knew I had the extra money and so did the nuns. They personally sacrificed me. I just put on a grim smile; I wasn't trying to be nice. He knew it, but we became friends anyway.


About the Author | Gabriella Alexis is a senior at Miami Arts Charter School. She majors in creative writing and is a published author. She has recently been published in Rattle, Orange Island and Creative Communication. She lives in Miami with her mother and grandmother. She loves poetry and spoken word.