Direct Is the Best Approach

        testoster_own wants to send you a message:

Hey. Can I ask u a question?


What makes a girl cheat on a good guy?

          Honestly? I have no idea. I am not the person to ask. I’ve only been in two relationships, and I’m not sure either of them counts. The first was in eighth grade, for about two weeks. Zeke Summers was one of the only straight boys in our grade, which made him desirable. I was the new girl, he was the ex-boyfriend of my best friend. One day in P.E he talked to me while Eisley played on my headphones (they hung around my neck like an ornament.) Loyalty didn’t even cross my mind.
          It was the first time a boy looked at me with anything resembling want. I suddenly felt my skin valuable. I remember feeling as if I had been brought from out of the sidelines. Picked. Could mark my emergence into the realm I was used to watching.
          A week later, he asked me to be his girlfriend, but I had to keep it a secret. Two weeks later, he broke up with me in first period, and then during second period threw himself in front of a Lexus. He was okay, just scratched up his knee. I watched him jump, screamed and ran towards him. Underneath him was a pool of congealed oil. I thought it was blood. I remember crying, thinking it was my fault, and then thinking my life was like an episode of Degrassi. 
          The act of love had not been meant for me, I learned later. He had four other secret girlfriends at the same time as me. The car act was meant for the girl who said no.

          Lili Howard was/is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. She played bass in her band and wrote her own songs about metamorphosis. Her hair was bleached blonde, and cut short. It was soft, and reminded me of chicken feathers, but in a good way.
          I asked her to be my girlfriend when I was fourteen with a cootie catcher in the student center. She said yes, and we spent every day of the next two weeks together. It wasn’t a secret this time. I rushed home to change my Facebook relationship status; I posted at least three new profile pictures of the two of us within those two weeks, kissing or faces smashed together. Proof that someone spectacular wanted me.
          We skipped school in the next week, and went to People’s Park in Berkeley, where all the homeless people lived, to buy weed. I was scared, and she held my hand the whole time. We got high, and drank hot chocolate spiked with Malibu on the back of the bus. I showed her my poems. She told me they were beautiful.
          It was almost Father’s Day, my first since he had died. We went to Walgreens to steal gum and I got lost in the card section. Rows of cards for dad, to thank him for “always being there” for “teaching me to drive” blocked me into the aisle. She found me, holding a card with a cartoon picture of a father and daughter, saw me tracing the raised gold lettering, “I love you, Daddy.” I hugged her. She responded, loosely, her body inching away from me as much as she could. She broke up with me the next day in the student center. She, also, cheated on me the whole time.

Would cheating have anything to do with the guy’s size?

testoster_own has been blocked.


             darkwolfmike wants to send you a message:

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Hey (waving hand emoji) what are your thoughts on ass play?

          My ass has been a subject of conversation ever since I was twelve years old. I remember the first time it was pointed out to me—I was lying on the floor of my social studies classroom, coloring, wearing yoga pants. Alexis, one of the few black girls in my grade, came up to me with her friends, Anna and Kayla. “Olivia,” they said, “We want you to know that you have a really big ass for a white girl.”
          They said it nonchalantly.
          I understood, vaguely, that they meant this as a good thing. I didn’t know how to take it, so I just nodded, and continued coloring.
          In high school, the older boys took notice of my body before I did. It happened fast for me, like many other girls. Suddenly, none of my shirts fit anymore. My body screamed words I had no language for, no way to translate. I relied on others to try to understand, interpret what messages I could now relay.
          I let boys feel me up in class. I would sit in between their legs, cuddling, and suddenly feel a hand gripping my chest. I played it cool, like I didn’t care, like this was something that happened all the time. I thought if I argued against it, it might not ever happen for me. There was validation in the direction their hands went.
          I remember walking through the halls hearing “Yo! Olivia’s ass!” and scuffling, as everyone tried to sneak a look. I remember feeling proud.
          In passing periods, boys—one boy, in particular—would grab me as I walked to class. He would grab my ass, poke at me so aggressively, press me against the wall until I would fall to the floor, both of us laughing. I would pick myself up, and dust myself off. He was one of the popular boys, one of the many boys who used to bully me before they thought I was attractive. His touch felt like a toll I needed to pay for his defense when others would bully me. It wasn’t until years later I realized how fucked up this really was, after learning that this boy had raped a girl, two years younger than me.
          I knew I wasn’t pretty. I decided that for girls like me, forcefully taken handfuls of my own skin were the best I could hope for. At least, through the force on my body, I was wanted.

          rodger_fk wants to send you a message:

Olivia! Yo where u from what do they feed u out there got ur body looking damn near perfect (drooling emoji)

          From the ages fourteen until eighteen, after my dad died, the only things I could depend on consistently being in my fridge were diet sodas, antique pickles, and condiments: Watery mustard, perpetually half-filled ketchup, low-sodium soy-sauce. Our cabinets were filled with sugar free alternatives, “guilt free” cookies, stale tricots, low-calorie microwave popcorn. We were a household of two women, trying to shrink ourselves smaller. My mom had learned the art of dieting, of restraining, of limiting, from her mother. It was her duty to pass it down, press it onto me.
          I stopped eating normally when I was fifteen; it was around the same time I started taking Adderall. The speed ate away at my hunger, which made it easier to wait until eight pm to maybe eat a Trader Joe’s salad, maybe eat a microwave dinner. My mother locked herself in her bedroom and wouldn’t notice if I’d go without. I’d throw my plastic bags of lunch into my neighbor’s lawn on my way to the bus stop. I made friends with girls who had “food stuff” as well, and at lunch we would drink Naked Smoothies (me: Green, Andrea: Vanilla, Eliza: Strawberry) and full liters of Fiji water. We’d carry them around like trophies, markers. Chug water as frequently as the thought of eating popped into our heads. Filled ourselves with cold, empty liquid.
          People started asking me what I was doing, if I was working out, the compliments came more heavily on weeks when I ate less. My weight fluctuated so frequently, I no longer had a concept of what I actually looked like. More and more, the words from others were my compass. My stomach screamed so loudly in class sometimes I’d have to put my head down and close my eyes. The feeling didn’t deter me, though, I only marked it as the price I had to pay to be the kind of woman I wanted—thought I needed to be.
          My mom put me on weight watchers when I was seventeen. I saved up my points on Fridays; I was only allotted twenty-two points a day. Forty ounces of malt liquor were seventeen points, so I’d fast in preparation. When the time came, I’d unscrew the cap with deliberate intention, ritualistic appreciation. Guzzle the golden liquid, feel myself get full, cherish the cold dropping into emptiness.
          I never got skinny. My body only got more pronounced, curves defined. Eating disorders are different for women who aren’t skinny to begin with. We are not warnings. We are success stories. My friends’ parents noticed their children’s waning skin, the protruding bones. My mother told me I looked beautiful.


          darkwolfmike wants to send you a message:

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U like?

darkwolfmike has been denied.

          thomas_23 wants to send you a message:

You look good.

Have any hot friends?

          Funny you ask that, I was always the ugly friend. The lesser one, the one who sits at the side of the party and gets drunk and high with the guys but never asked to dance. My first make-out was with a boy named Harry Law who had a nose that reminded me of a shark fin, sharp and protruding. He leaned into the kiss with his mouth wide open. He licked my face to the tune of Katy Perry’s "Teenage Dream", and then promptly tried to finger me. I pushed him away. He got pissed, and then told everyone he was too drunk and I had tricked him, told him I was another girl. He would never, in his right mind, make out with me if he had known.
          My body was the only thing I had going for me. This got me into trouble, this, my desire to be wanted, and my need to be told these things explicitly.
          Sebastian understood that, immediately.
          Sebastian Winter had dated my best friend, Ciara, the summer before. He had rejected her. She was the kind of girl boys liked, tall and skinny and blonde, and I was her sidekick. I got to watch her be a woman in the way I hoped I would someday get to be. This was the dynamic I played out with all my female relationships in high school. I made friends with the pretty girls, hoping maybe that some of their beauty might rub off on me.
          I met Sebastian after a football game at Piedmont High, the rich kid enclave in the middle of Oakland. I was sixteen, and drinking four-lokos every third day. He saw something vulnerable in me, something malleable, and pounced.
          I found myself alone in the middle of the park with him. We took shot after shot after shot until I realized I didn’t know where I was.
          He got me by comparing me to Ciara. “You’re so much cooler than she is. You’re real. You’re prettier and sexier than her.” He knew these were the words I had always wanted to hear. He took advantage of that.
          I had riled him up, he explained. I had to do something to “fix what I had done.”
          I told him I had never had sex before. He said there were others things I could do for him.
          When he was finished with me, he left me alone in that park, on that bench. I walked for forty minutes to find my friend, passing the mansions and strung up Christmas lights, blurring in with the dark sky. I was too drunk to tell the difference of a star from artificial light.
          It took me a week to realize what happened.

          tattooflexinstr8up wants to send you a message:

Olivia enough of the stranger stuff Hopefully you don’t be a stranger for to long. But excuse me hope you don’t mind me taking the time out of the day to talk to you. But your so very beautiful An attractive just had to speak. Pretty sure you have enough people wasting your time an I’m not tryna do that either despite me speaking. Very interested in getting to know you if we can make that possible if not its ok atleast I spoke but hopefully your down maybe we can exchange number if your comfortable enough if not it’s ok. Would love to get to know you maybe we should go out to eat sometime? Hopefully I’ll hear back from you cutie (kiss emoji)(heart eye emoji) hopefully this isn’t too long just realize I kinda wrote a lot lol

          I hope you know, there is nothing about a man saying I’m wasting my time on him that makes me feel good. I’m not even sure what that sentiment is supposed to do, really. The first person I ever seriously found myself infatuated with from Tinder, Noah Eller, used to say that, every night when he got drunk. Or, drunker than he would be in the day. It was like his way of putting the blame on me. Showing me how broken he was, and then forcing me to be accountable for it. He would text me, “Thank u for wasting your time on someone like me <3” Spew these lines that weren’t meant for me, that were simply adjectives and nouns searching for a warm body , for a host. I was merely an audience to his illness, to his self. I was necessary, but only my body, not my personhood.
          You don’t even know what I look like, really.
          The word “beautiful” has been tainted, morphed into this empty cage for me so you all can keep me hanging. And it works, but still, there’s this feeling I get when I’m alone with these men, like you, who don’t know me. The way you all look and speak to me—at me, that makes me realize I could be anyone. Noah cast me as the idealized version of his ex-girlfriend throughout our relationship. That wasn’t the first time that’s happened. It won’t be the last. I know that the lines would be no different, if I weren’t sitting there to receive them. If instead it were another body, another girl.
          I have never felt more empty than I did in Noah’s bed, with one hand on my thigh, not knowing how but understanding that something had changed, hardened in him, towards me. That I had revealed too much of myself, too quickly. That it had turned off. I had proven I wasn’t just anybody—I was just me.

          darkwolfmike wants to send you a message

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Shaved for u

          darkwolfmike has been blocked.

          faded247_420_69 wants to send you a message:

stop being sooooooo cute, your killing me (devastated emoji)

          My beauty has never felt like something that’s belonged to me, fully. It was always a price, a condition, a necessity to participate. The day other people started taking an interest in me was the day I became real. I knew the catch. I knew the danger, and I have been lucky to experience minimal violence for the body I inhabit. There were times though, that something about me brought out this darkness in another person that I couldn’t name, still cannot fully fathom.
          Once, in my first year of University, while waiting outside the Electric Owl for my friend to finish hooking up with a guy so we could leave, a guy grabbed my ass as he walked by. I was drunk and furious. I saw red, flaming rage, and before I could think I snapped my head to catch a look of the guy who had grabbed me. I began yelling and storming towards him.
          “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I yelled in his face. I saw him deflate, hide inside himself. He didn’t answer me, just shrugged. I couldn’t stop yelling. “What the fuck makes you think that’s okay? That you have a right to touch me?” as I screamed in this guy’s face, I realized that I could be getting myself in a dangerous position. I didn’t know how to defend myself with anything other than my words. I eventually got tired of his blank face, told him to fuck himself one last time, and stormed off with my friends. I cried the entire cab home.
          Another time, outside the Pit, drunk, again, a group of guys pointed at me and I heard the word “Bitch.” I turned, suddenly.
          “You can’t talk to me like that, assholes,” I said to a group of guys. They were tall, large, athletic. Their faces hardened immediately
          “The fuck did you call us?” They circled around me. My friends were ahead of me, unaware of what was happening. I muttered something defensive, and managed to dart in between two of the larger men, and ran to catch up with my friends. I didn’t know how to name what had just happened, so I stayed quiet about it. Let it instead live inside me, under my skin.

          _rodgerdoger wants to send you a message:

U were on the 280 bus with me on Saturday. Sorry I couldn’t stop looking to u...(u are gorgeous)

          I have never taken the 280 bus before. You sent me this message, and a couple of days later, after no response, you commented on a photo I posted 34 weeks ago saying the same thing. Something in your desire, your adamant mistake, made me wish I really was this girl you want me to be so badly. You all show your cards so easily, give me cues on what to say, what kind of girl you want me to be. And I follow. I don’t know why, but I follow, fall into the shapes you’ve carved out of past girls. I allow myself, to fit into these types, chip away at my own body, my own self, just in order to be held.



Olivia Scarlet Hoffman is a 21-year-old young woman, currently pursuing her BFA in Creative Writing at University of British Columbia. She has had her poetry published on the Poetry for Breakfast's website, as well as in small literary magazines. She is currently an editor for Grounders Magazine, and her poetry can be found on her poetry instagram @oliviapoetics.

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