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  • Writer's pictureProject Voices

Stella Turowsky-Ganci

My name is Stella and I am a rising senior at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield, Massachusetts. I am involved in community service in my community and many clubs and groups on campus at school, my favorites being those involving performance such as band and our acapella group, Octet, but my all-time favorite activity on campus and off is Musical Theatre.

This is an abridged version of a short story I wrote in tenth grade and never quite let go of. I believe it remains the most accurate depiction of my personal voice as a writer, a voice that I have struggled not to stifle as an AFAB (assigned female at birth) person when it sometimes feels like the best way to speak or write is now you believe others want to hear you rather than how you want or need to be heard.


I saw everything. Every mistake, every accident, every victory or triumph, I saw it all. But it’s only one thing to see everything, it's another to remember. God, do I remember.

I remember everything—every family. Every baby turned into every kid that turned into every teenager that eventually if all went well, turned into every adult. It doesn't always go well. Sometimes, those kids don't turn into anything but a smile in a picture frame, thumbtacks digging into my skin, a constant reminder of mortality. Their mortality, that is, not mine. I always thought I would live forever. I don’t remember how many families there have been, but I remember every family as if they were standing in the foyer before me.

I love every one of them. I hurt when they hurt. When they lean up against me, I support them. When a storm comes, I shelter them. That’s my job. I protect them. They are supported to protect me, and they do. Some even spoil me. Dressing me up in lavish patterns or making me glisten with a new color. They let me hold their memories, their paintings, their television sets. In a way, I hold their entire lives. They would be nothing without me, I would be nothing without them. That's why I’m nothing now. That’s why the boxes scare me.

A woman came alone once, her name was Lucy. I loved Lucy because she touched me. She was an artist, you see, and she painted me to look like the ocean. She drew big, cascading waves along my skin, making me bend and sway in ways I never thought possible. She touched many people too, there were always women coming and going. Some stayed for a while, and there was smiling and cuddling and kissing until there was yelling. They always left after the yelling. That is, until Sofia. Sofia wouldn't leave. She would stand the yelling, almost like she had no choice. Almost like me. Sofia never left, actually, Lucy left first. On the day of their wedding, they planted a willow tree in the front yard, and on the day Lucy died, Sofia planted another one, right next to it. Lucy’s willow. Sofia’s boxes appeared one day in the hot summer, but there wasn't “nothing” after she left, there were the willows.

Now as I am faced with what should be nothing, I understand. There will never be “nothing”, because I saw everything, and I remember it, too. I remember Mr. Wilsons’s calloused hands, I remember the Alistor's dog, I remember Nora, Paul, and Ester, and Gabrielle, and Kathrine, and Drew, and Sofia and Lucy and everyone, and I remember their lives. Their families. Their love. I supported them. I was their protector.

As the clouds roll across the sky, autumn air meets the swaying willows, I open myself to the bulldozer’s purring engine. And as I feel the color and patterns and ocean get ripped from my body I smile like they always did in the pictures, I saw it all.


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