Growth Mindset – Katy Naylor

The thing they don’t tell you about a fist in the face, a broken nursery door, the trace of fingers bruising skinny arms, is how much it helps you grow. 

I’ve grown so much. Inch by inch, ounce by ounce of fat and muscle and bone, I’ve grown away from the little girl in the velvet dress who chose her words so carefully. She stands quiet in a distant corner, head bowed, face closed. I don’t think she’d recognise me. 

I’ve grown skin over my skin: I am a snake that’s forgotten how to shed, coiling blind into itself. I’ve grown a whole new smile. I keep it in the closet and bring it out for visitors, when it shines, violet and humming, into the room. It can be quite a show. The glare can dazzle, illuminating flat visions of their better selves. No one notices that behind the strip-light crackle there’s a hole where the rest of my face should be.

I’ve grown new ways of slicing myself thin. I’ve grown brittle and stretched, hollow enough that I can walk on water. I don’t make the slightest ripple, so lightly I can tread. 

The trick is not to look down, not to see that the water is made up of shards laid edge on edge. Not to see that my feet are bleeding, or the dark shapes and moving fins just below the surface. Not to register that I’m skimming fast towards the rocks.   

I used to dream that I’d meet you one day. Casual on the corner, the dirt cleaned from under your nicotine stained nails. Still casting your long, thin shadow in the noonday sun. You’d see how much I’d grown and you’d want to take it back. Peel back each scar and blister and forgive me for not being enough. 

I know now that if you reached out to touch me I’d shatter on impact. All you’d do is brush down your coat, pick the broken glass out of your hands and walk on.