by Erin Taylor

Published in Issue No. 270 ~ November, 2019

They handed me the shovel and ordered me to dig. With each pound I gained. With each wrinkle I acquired. With each stretch mark I earned. Every time, they barked at me to dig.


The Victoria Secret angels strolling down the runway, condemning me a demon. Barbie, my beautiful Barbie. My childhood was spent with my fingers memorizing her lines and perfect plastic proportions. Not knowing that I had doomed myself to fall short to what the memory holds. Up against the standard, she had silently demanded, looking down on me with her Stepford smile. Every pop star and movie star in their crop tops and short shorts matchlessly photoshopped on the cover of all those magazines. Requiring a finished figure that they could never achieve without the artful stroke of the airbrush. I dug this grave. I did. They handed me the shovel, but I never told them no. I should have clobbered their seemingly seamless faces with the shovel they gave me, but instead, I dug. Sinking lower and lower with every comparison. Each wistful look.

You came along and saw me at the bottom of that pit. You could have lowered a rope. You could’ve extended your hand. Found a ladder…climbed down with me and used your hands and your body and strength to lift me out.

You picked up a shovel, and for a brief, hopeful moment, I thought you were going to dig me out. Finally, the safety and rescue I had been dreaming of. It should’ve been you. It was supposed to be you. I hear your voice dripping with sweetness, and you promise to help me out. Air creeps into my lungs for what feels like the first time. I close my eyes, and a shaky breath leaves my lips.


Then, I watch, horrified, as you use your strength to lift heaps of dirt onto my head. I see your arms and body tense and flex as you work. Tears sting my eyes while the cruel irony and truth set in. The same power that could’ve been used to save me is being used to bury me deeper.

I try to fight it. I claw, scream, beg, and cry. You don’t seem to hear me, or even care. I grasp for footholds, roots, anything to help me pull myself out. But the weight of what you pour over me is too much, and I crumble beneath it.

You smack your hands over your legs, brushing off the dirt and any evidence that you had a hand in the death of my self.

Bewildered, I lay in the silence for a while. The acceptance of the fact that I will never be enough, slowly washes over me. I lean back and ceremoniously cross my arms over my chest and close my eyes. This is where I will spend the remainder of my days. Buried under doubt and dirt.

One day, another will walk by. Another that would be willing to pull me out. One who would risk themselves to help hoist me out of the tomb I’m in. One who would brush me off, tuck my hair behind my ear, grab my hand, and lead me to a happier place. A place of acceptance and respect. But it won’t happen. They won’t ever find me. They’ll walk right past this unmarked grave. I’m in too deep. It’s too much work. You buried me too deep. And I let you.

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She's an avid reader whose goal is to become the "World's Okayest Writer". When she's not reading the classics or Shakespeare, she's busy teaching the ABC's to four year olds or running after her two offspring. With her recent divorce and her constant battle with an eating disorder and anxiety...she's surprised it took her this long to use writing as a way to sort through all the words bumbling around in her brain.