I still eat string cheese
and sit on the kitchen counter.
Toe the acorns on our driveway from the oak,
smell the rain-stained concrete and
bright green, baby grass,
regrown after the fires.
The secrets I kept as a kid –
climbing Coyote Hill at night,
playing alone by the willow and the gutter,
burying the metal charm near Fifi’s place.
They’ve become spaces in me.
Snow globe worlds, contained but always shaken,
showering everything
with a dewy hue.
The slow settling of fantasies.
It was magic to me.

The uglier side of self-love is
the creeping disappointment that comes on
like a head cold –
that no one will ever do it
quite like me.
That even the story I tell
of my engagement is
better than the thing itself.
Everything born here is gold.

Everything but the hissing yellow street lamps,
the empty cul-de-sac,
the stream of cigarette smoke,
those four murders.
Everything else.

Tessa Shea Whitehead is an award-winning producer and writer currently serving as the Artistic Director of Chorus Productions, an immersive theater company. Her most recent show, Eschaton, was featured in The New York Times and The Verge and was nominated for the Producers Guild of America Innovation Award. She began her work in immersive theater at Remarkable Entertainment developing and writing projects for the producer of Sleep No More. She previously worked on the television series Dare Me on USA and Netflix, and her fiction has been published in Archipelago – The Allegory Ridge Fiction Anthology. Before working as a writer, she was an NFL cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks and now draws on that experience to tell stories that subvert and explore traditionally female themes and spaces. 

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