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Before 19

Focus thing that is going on around me. However, I cannot miss a single thing that is going on with you. Now I am multi-tasking. I hear you mention him, but then I see him. It is not the same him, it might not even be the usual him, but it is the him you mention. I wonder what he is going to do. I kind of hope that you don’t see him, but it has no reason to bother you, nor does it have a reason to bother me. It almost hurts how badly I just want to be able to sit there and listen, actually listen and indulge in every word that you are so gracefully speaking to me. I must do this all the time. How do you put up with me? What the fuck is wrong with me? I’d really like an answer to that question. But I am still listening. It is all about you. It’s always about everyone. It was never about me. That’s exactly how it should be. I just need to keep trying. Trying to focus on you and only you. The stories you are telling me, because I will ask you about them later and you’ll think I am stupid; the problems that you are having, because I only want to help you, I just need to be reassured that everything and everyone else around me is in its place and hanging in there; I want to give you all the advice in the world because you give me advice like it is as simple as a high five or a handshake, but it is not, and after all the advice I ask for and need from you, why would you ever take advice from me? I guess that means something. I guess I should stop looking around me and thinking about everything and everyone else. I need to only focus on you. Focusing is hard enough as it is, let alone focusing solely on one thing, one person, something that is not moving anything but their mouth and the words echoing out. That’s where my eyes should be. Staring at the words leaving your mouth. They will resonate; I just need to see them with my eyes.


By Emma Shepardson I hear everything that is coming out of your mouth. As a matter of fact, I am staring, well trying to stare, right into your eyes and understand. I shake my head as if I am deeply taking in the information, but where my eyes land is what truly grasps my attention. I want and I try to be interested in what you have to say to me, and believe me, I want to help with every inch of my body. I will pour every last drop out of me, if it involves helping you solve this one problem, no matter how stupid you might think it is. But it’s my eyes. They aren’t staring into yours. I am trying though. I have learned the hard way that the only way to reassure someone that you are truly engaged in what they are saying, is if you stare right into the backs of their eyes. I am paying attention, I really am. But it’s my eyes, again. They are the most attracted to whatever it is that is moving. The boy who is sitting by alone and the interactions he is sharing with nature. The girl sitting in the corner smiling every time her phone lights up, I assume it is her boyfriend or a crush of hers she is texting. The two girls gossiping about the boy they both like, but he only likes one of them. The four boys talking about that one girl who accidentally said something, unintentionally, related to sex in class today. The girl and the boy who are “just friends," but within two months or so will realize they actually have feelings for each other. The squirrel jumping from branch to branch hoping the next one will not fall, causing the poor squirrel to spiral down to its death. Oh, but back to what you are saying. I understand what you’re saying, I know how annoying it is, but there are a few more people walking by. It’s two teachers talking about something, seemingly, serious. I wonder what it is. Did a student do something stupid again? Wouldn’t surprise me at this point. Maybe something personal happened in your family. If so, I am very sorry, that is just unfair. Maybe you did something wrong. Now this is getting interesting. I look back at you, right into your eyes. I see that your eyes have been staring into the depths of my cornea, which you now know was not the case with my eyes. I just want to tell you that I am trying to only look at you, but I can’t. I can’t interrupt you either. So I just have to try harder. To be honest, all I want to do is hear your voice because I hear mine way too much. But I just have to notice other things as well. I cannot miss a single 30


Before 19, literary journal