Each section is based on the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the day from October, 2022.
I. light head, n. and adj.
Today is a new day. I’m going to turn it all around. Roll out of bed, complete a yoga routine with my phone propped against the lamp on my nightstand. A quick shower, a quick breakfast that I eat on my way to the bus stop. Nothing is going to stop me.
II. per fas et nefas, adv.
Headphones in as I approach the stop. No one is going to ruin my day. No one is going to bring me down. Lizzo will keep me afloat.
III. downpressor, n.
Bus pulls up, everyone files on, backpacks knock against each other, people, doorframes, seats. Bus driver’s voice mumbles through his expectations. It’s early enough that people quiet down for him, but I leave my headphones in, wait for his voice to stop, the bus din to return, the yellow dashes in the road to scroll by underfoot.
IV. alieniloquy, n.
The thing about the lines on the road is that they’re hypnotizing as they fly by. An intermittent, off-yellow flash carries your mind to some elsewhere without dimensions in time or space. And when they end at the parking lot’s edge, you suddenly remember you have to go to first period.
V. bobsled, v.
Hallways are full of bodies— a current pulls me right to Ms. Acevedo’s classroom. I don’t remember moving my feet.
VI. rhubarb, n. and adj.
Throat’s tight. Swallow the past, Tori; this is a new chapter. I put a smile on my face convincing enough to fool everyone at my cooking station.
VII. lightning bird, n.
I’m holding steady until he enters the room. His hair curling under the edge of his hat. A jolt in my chest— why do I want to cry and smile at the same time?
VIII. dump cake, n.
I look down at our counter, can’t look up, need to forget he’s here. Ms. Acevedo gives instructions; I don’t hear them. Shay does, assumes the role of our group’s leader. She tells me to measure and pour baking powder, salt, flour in a bowl and stir. I see his face in the powdery mountain range.
IX. dunnish, adj.
Eli asks if I’m done mixing. I nod and xe dumps my bowl into xyrs, mixes. I look up, the room’s colors seem to be on a dimmer switch— it looks like the sky an hour before thunder.
X. folx, n.
Ms. Acevedo address the class about over safety protocols. Shay and Eli discuss how to decorate our cake. I sneak a headphone through my sleeve to my palm, rest it against my ear. Hayley Williams yells about misery.
XI. ice blink, n.
The bell releases us to the sea, a long voyage to our next classes. Stare ahead at nothing; looks better than watching bow waves collide. Mr. Persson’s display for the Revolutionary War overwhelms his end of the hallway.
XII. birdscape, n.
Respite among war stories, since he’s in math class. I can stretch my wings, restart the new me.
XIII. bodgie, v.
New Tori writes her notes in cursive. New Tori nods her head while someone talks. New Tori asks questions during lectures. New Tori has her shit together.
XIV. chugalug, v.
I drink from my water bottle throughout third period, which helps me focus on geometric proofs— tonight’s homework. I get in the zone, my homework finished, ten minutes to spare, an empty water bottle. I ask Mx. Archer to go to the bathroom. They tell me to go fast.
XV. mediocritize, v.
You are never going to change. There is no “New Tori.” You are the same piece of shit you were yesterday. You are alone for a reason. It was obvious he’d leave. You are deluding yourself into thinking anyone would like you. I scramble for my headphones, play the loudest Sleater-Kinney song I find.
XVI. spreathed, adj.
I feel cracks spread across my arms as I enter the bathroom. They become deep, wide; demons rise from the dark crevasses. I feel the boiling spittle drip from their open maws, their claws pierce my skin as they push off to take flight. It burns and I scratch, hoping my nails bury them alive, but they keep sprouting like weeds in an unkempt garden.
XVII. ignorantism, n.
Shay enters the bathroom as I leave, gives a small wave, looks at my arms— radiant pink, thin scratch marks all over my forearms. She tilts her head, her brows concerned, starts to ask a question she doesn’t have words for. I tell her I’m okay.
XVIII. monkey bear, n.
I don’t know why I can’t calm. Why is it so hard to stand still, to quiet the thoughts that clash in my head like marbles against a mirror? I watch the branches on the tree outside Mx. Archer’s window sway in the wind as the bell rings. Everyone gets up and leaves robotically, but I just sit there, unable to look away.
XIX. dark thirty, n.
I see it clearly still— the madrone branches dripping into the sound as we sat in the bed of his truck, watched the sky above Vashon turn pink. My hand in his, a blanket between us and a cloudless sky. He poured coffee from a thermos, told me he loved me. He said he’d never hurt me.
XX. amoretto, n.
I was warm then; I thought it boundless. I wrote his name in different styles in the margins of my notebooks. I lost focus in every class. Doodles— abstract shapes, hearts— left on every scrap of paper in my backpack. I wrote poems, left them in his locker.
XXI. nightertime, n.
Mx. Archer asks if I want to eat lunch in their room, if that’s why I haven’t left. I shrug, nod, but really, I’m not there; I’m still lying in bed at three in the morning, looking at my phone, reading the last message he sent me to make sure I understood each word.
XXII. chuddies, n.
The chill of the metal chair on my thighs brings me back. I regret that New Tori decided her style is yoga shorts and large sweatshirts regardless of the weather outside or in. Bell rings and I’ve eaten nothing again. Frustration builds up behind my eyes; I’m supposed to be better than this now. Mx. Archer throws a granola bar at my desk, tells me to eat it on my way to class.
XXIII. gist, v.
Suffice it to say I inhaled the granola bar on the way to English. I listen to Big Freedia, need to explode to start anew.
XXIV. menehune, n.
How could I have ever thought I could start over overnight, as if it would ever be that simple? I need to confront him.
XXV. yo, int. and n.
Chemistry. That’s when I’ll see him next. That’s when I’ll tell him what’s on my mind. I spend English drafting the words I need to say to make him understand.
XXVI. drooking, n.
I stand outside the chemistry room, waiting for him to show up. I take a sip from my water bottle when I see him round the corner holding Melanie’s hand. There’s a white flash and I feel my fingers tighten into a fist, a scratch grow inside my throat. My water bottle points at his waterlogged hat and shirt.
XXVII. grrr, v.
In my chest, a beehive hit with a baseball bat, their wings bristle against my skin. I fly away before he says a word, before an adult makes me talk about it.
XXVIII. mosker, v.
What was once vibrant, warm, soured, cold and bitter as coffee dregs. My throat on fire, I heave by the mailboxes in the neighborhood behind the school. It’s over. There was never any chance. You don’t get a fresh start. You will always be the second choice, alone, a fucked up girl no one will remember.
XXIX. sabo, n.
He knew I’d be there. He knew I’d see them. He must have wanted me to see them together, to see how he’s moved on already. They’re probably laughing now at what a fool I am to believe there was any possibility of reconciliation, to believe I am worth anything to anyone.
XXX. ablepsy, n.
My vision gets blurry, goes black. I sit on the curb, dig my headphones out of my pockets. My phone trembles in my hands; I can’t see the screen, can’t make the sounds to activate Siri. Silence envelops me. I drop my phone, don’t hear it hit the asphalt. My breathing becomes muted; my chest heaves, but there’s no sound— no air. I don’t know what to do.
XXXI. jack-o’-lantern, n.
A light, an arm's length away, appears, slowly retreats. I reach for the light, a face amongst the dark, which welcomes me, accepts me. Why is it leaving? I reach, lose balance; my palms, knees slam the road. Pebbles make homes in my skin. The light fades like the sun over the horizon. I evaporate as mist in the void.