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I know what damaged girls look like. The white girl wasted, half-dressed mess in six inch heels. A fresh cigarette between her fingers. She fucks randos and might be the Typhoid Mary of Chlamydia, but no one cares because she’s such a good time and she never complains. Then there’s me. Untrusting of strangers. Digging chocolate chip cookie crumbs out of my cleavage because that’s what happiness tastes like. Perennially alone because I’m unwilling to take the same risks as everyone else. No one gives a fuck about me. Girls like me disappear.

The first shot feels like the fire I need to rebirth myself, so I choke down another. A third for good luck. Soon I’m engulfed in flames surrounded by strangers. I forget myself. Talk loud. Belly laugh. Nuzzle up to some guy. We dance to the next song because I claim it’s my favorite. There’s no dance floor, but it turns out one can be made if you want it bad enough.

The room becomes a kaleidoscope of forgettable faces and splashes of color. My body is fluid in ways sober me could only fantasize about. I twist out of my winter coat and throw it in the general direction of our barstools. The crop top I bought for this night barely covers anything, but I’m so hot and dizzy. My shoulder knocks into a nearby group like I’m trying to break into a locked room. I bounce back, unsuccessful. Beer rolls across the floor in waves. Sorry, I say. It’s not enough. I offer to buy their next round. Some guy hustles me out the door. I rub my bare arms in the freezing night air. He comes back and throws my coat at me.

Fine! I scream. Fine!

I cackle and it rattles every cell in my body. I’m coming apart at my foundation. Sinking into the quicksand beneath. I struggle into my coat and peer inside the windows. People are unsure what I’m going to do next. Their apprehension travels on waves between us. The power to change their night thrums through my blood. I can feel it in my teeth, the ends of my hair. I stand up tall like a statue and grin, my bright red lipstick smeared down my chin. The people inside shudder and turn away.

Can you see me now?