Why I Am Who I Am {experimental flash essay}

beach campfire

Why I Am Who I Am


The campfire was dawdling and people were beginning to go to bed. I listened to the sound of waves as I followed my flashlight through the park. The air smelled like the black of stars, the grey of sea salt, and the puce dampness of brick. It was the smell of living halfway in civilization and halfway out. The smell of frogs and raccoons and trees. The smell of evening awake.


  1.  scissors
  2.  red paper
  3.  mine
  4.  nice job
  5.  kissing is gross
  6.  glue sticks
  7.  wood chips
  8.  tire swing
  9.  kiss her
  10.  no
  11.  uncertainty
  12.  bliss
  13.  running
  14.  a chain-link fence
  15.  whispering parents
  16.  car accident
  17.  student in the hospital
  18.  new teacher
  19.  library
  20.  tree house
  21.  friends
  22.  no school today
  23.  empty backpack
  24.  new school
  25.  grass
  26.  monkey-bars
  27.  numbers
  28.  pencils
  29.  paper with lines
  30.  scissors


My brother had an extra incisor. Five front teeth. When his adult teeth began to grow in, the dentist recommended he have the surplus tooth removed. When he got back from oral surgery he showed me the tooth. It was as long as a mini-paperclip and faded like a bony sunset from yellow to white to pink to red. The tooth looked so sad, like an uprooted flower. Though I still hope his life is better without it, I sometimes wonder if the dentist stole an important part of my brother that day.


“Mom! I just saved a baby lizard!”


“It was drinking from the hole in the base of the basketball hoop—the one Dad filled with hose-water last night so it wouldn’t tip over—and it fell in.”


“Yeah. So I put my finger in the hole and it grabbed on.”

“And where is it now?”

“Outside on the sidewalk. It’ll be fine soon.”

“I’m sure it will. Now go wash your hands. It’s time for lunch.”



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