It is eleven on the morning of day three hundred and fifty five.
I stir in my cell, the bright-eyed, keen and utopian soul of a child rests soundly beside my body. She passed away when eighteen arrived and destroyed, when eighteen crushed the rose-tinted glasses and carried, like the slippery whisper of a final breath, the soft calm away.
I stare at four walls and count the things I have lost, the things that perished when the child was taken.
OVER THE KNEE SOCKS* BY CHOIES
I lost my childhood to blood-bound dysfunctionality, a wind-knocking, spirit-breaking, faith-bruising punch that called for the ignorance to leave, the idealist to flee, the romanticist to scream.
I lost my reason to fear, the creeping, mirthless shadow not of another faceless being but the shadow of myself.
I lost my mind to hatred that strangled like a reptilian monster whose head is my own disembodied, whose fangs pierced and left marks eternal.
I lost my temper to my arrogance, a fool of a peasant dressed in robes disillusioned by the crown that belongs to the burgundy-wrapped.
I lost myself.
This year has been a year of self-discovery, the harshest year by far for the little, inexperienced me. I've fallen onto the knees of self-pity on this ride several times along, been floored by my blind ignorance and tumbled over as I took the wrong roads. I have lost along the way -- budding friendships and hope -- but in loss, I have also found.
I found self-forgiveness and inner peace; I found friendships that have been docked by the port for ages and I have set them asail, a grand adventure for our young and excited hearts; I found a capacity for unconditional trust in loved ones, the chain that holds all bonds together; I found ground in the face of unexpected reality; I found life above all.
As for the self that shattered when eighteen took over, I have found shards of her here and there and fitted them back like pieces of a puzzle back into me. I will never leave behind the eager little flame of an optimistic eight year old whose biggest fear was Santa not coming, but, like all things broken, even if I find all of her, she shall never be the same again, she shall never be whole again.
It does not matter, though, because at eighteen, I have also found another side of myself. A side I'm pretty proud of, a side that I've decided I like and I'd like to live with, a side I'd like to improve upon -- I've found the passion inside me, the writer inside me, the storyteller that is me. I found The Mayden.
"Be at peace," she tells me and glided through the keyhole of the sole door in the cell. There is a click and a twist and the door cracks open, but she is gone.
I tread not on the grout lines on the floor -- for she used to tell me to never do so, "a near crime!" she once yelled -- and peered through the door. There is a tunnel, dark and desolate, and I see a light at the end. It is a ten day walk.
I take the first step.
Listen: Sara Bareilles's She Used to Be Mine.
* ITEM HAS BEEN SENT TO ME BY CHOIES FOR PR PURPOSES
PHOTOS BY SHIAN LI CHIAM
PHOTOS BY SHIAN LI CHIAM