Yesterday and walking I found my photo face up on the sidewalk. It was everywhere: my eyes, my lips, my hideous birthmark. I took two steps and saw five more of me plastered across the damp ground. Someone had scratched my nostils out in one picture, someone had given me chicken pox in another.My friends, Patrice and Karen, approached me and told me how sorry they were that this was happening to me. My boyfriend said that he would be moving to San Diego with the dog, and that we could not, in fact, get married in September as planned. My parents screamed and sobbed in my face, saying that my life was over at 26, that my breasts would soon start sagging. My older brother asked if I had any black friends, if I knew any black people, adopted into a white family as I was. Patrice and Karen mentioned that they had suddenly obtained the power to read minds, and could see all of my inner and most disgusting thoughts. We cannot be friends with one who has envisioned the possibility of having intercourse with friends, family, and, moreover, their dog.

I felt my jawbone, caressing the thick line of skin that had marked it from my birth. Yes, I knew it was hideous. Yes, I knew I was black, friendless, and sexless (although I did posess a clitoris that throbbed at the most inopportune moments).

The photo waved and wagged at me from the ground — its edges frayed and gray. I ripped it off the sidewalk and stuck it to my face with a laugh. I was suddenly everywhere: my eyes, my lips, my hideous birthmark.

You could no longer see where I stopped and the world began.

*Winner of an Associated Writing Program (AWP) Intro Award, 2002

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