Emily Withnall

Mount Cavalry Cemetery was just off Hot Springs Boulevard and it was our go-to spot in eighth grade. We felt cool there, in the dark, wearing our ripped up jeans and flannel shirts. If Kurt Cobain hadn’t died two years prior he might have been proud of our middle-of-nowhere New Mexico grunge crew. I’d dyed my hair eggplant that year and my favorite jeans had patches all over them. My favorite patch was sewn on the back pocket: bright red voluptuous lips with the words “kiss my patch” scrawled across them in white letters. It was as far as I could go. My friend Lynette’s hair was dyed an inky black and she wore it draped around her pale face. Excluding the forest green and black checked flannel tied around her waist every day, her clothes were all black. Her eyes were lined with thick black eyeliner, her eyelashes were heavy with mascara and she wore black lipstick, too. David and Patrick, the tall and hollow-cheeked twins, had “slayer” scratched into their skateboards. Lynette and Angelica took it a step further, carving “slayer” into their wrists and the insides of their soft biceps with dull pocket knives during algebra class. “It makes the pain go away,” they’d explain, referring to a mysterious emotional trauma that I was not privileged to understand.

Emily Withnall is from the high mountain desert of northern New Mexico. Currently, she lives in Missoula, Montana, where she teaches writing and herds two daughters and three cats. Her work has appeared in Ms. Magazine, High Country News, ZO Magazine and Pittsburgh Quarterly, among others. Her essay "Disembodied" recently won the 2016 AWP Writers' Conferences & Centers Scholarship for creative nonfiction.

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