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  • When I was thirteen, I went through a dark Nine Inch Nails listening, fishnet-tights-in-the-middle-of-summer wearing, gloom and doom adoring phase where everything made me want to pretend to commit suicide. My mom telling me to clean my room caused me to fantasize about putting a pillow over my head and suffocate myself. Getting a B- on my chemistry midterm made me imagine jumping out the window of the two-story school. And the boy at camp who didn’t like me? I wanted to want to cut my wrists.

    I never actually did any of this – I just wrote cheesy, overdramatic poetry about doing it. I present to you real, actual evidence of this embarrassing phase in all its goth glory:

    roses are red
    so is blood
    the dark red flowing
    from your wrists
    clotting up in clumps
    the scratchy red
    covering the tips of your fingers.
    violets are blue
    blue like the tears
    that swelter in your eyes
    until blindness ensues
    such lovely first words
    with a brutal end. love sux.

    I am ashamed to reiterate that this is an actual piece of writing composed by yours truly when I was 13 years old. And it’s total bullshit. I was a middle class kid growing up in suburban Long Island. Some boy I barely know who’s name I can’t even remember now didn’t like me. Boo hoo. Woe was me.

    I forgot about the poem, and the stupid pre-teen boy who made me feel oh-so tragically, until I came across one of those online poetry contests when I was 15. You know those contests: you submit a poem twenty lines or less, and if it gets selected, it’s printed in an anthology available for purchase. It's a total scam. And even at 15, I knew it, but I wanted to see how far one of my pieces of writing could go.

    Being quite the wordsmith back in the day, I only had one poem that short – my embarrassing pseudo-suicide poem. Eh, fuck it. I typed it up and submitted it.

    A couple weeks went by, and my depressing angst-riddled poetry turned into Weird Al-type song parodies. Less emotional, more food puns. One day I received a letter in the mail – my poem had been picked! And it would be published in the latest volume of poetry! And would I like to buy several copies of the book for myself and my loved ones to share my success with?

    I ripped up the letter, and went back to trying to rhyme a word with “kumquat”.

    More weeks went by. I was now 16, hanging out at my friend’s place on the weekend making silly movies with cheap alien puppets. My mom calls, confusion and worry in her voice. Apparently, a middle-aged woman had left a voicemail on our answering machine. She was trying to contact me.

    Her name was Rebecca Bain. She, too, had a poem printed along with hundreds of others in that particular volume of poetry. Unlike me, she was gullible enough to buy the book, and saw my name while searching for her poem.

    She read my 20-line suicidal blurb and - as the voicemail informed - it turned her entire life around. Ms. Bain, you see, was going through a horrible divorce and was contemplating suicide. However, seeing someone else with the same name facing the same troubles somehow inspired her to live again. She looked up my number in the phone book (your name and location is included in the byline to your poem) and called to thank me for saving her life. She left her number so I could call her back.

    Of course, I never called her. What would I say? Would I inform her that the poem that moved her away from death was written by a 13-year-old girl bummed out over some unworthy boy at camp? Plus, I was a teenager - I couldn’t handle the responsibility that came with allegedly saving someone’s life.

    As I look back on it, I really do wish I had kept her number, so I could ring her up today. “Hey, Rebecca, yeah, it’s Becky, your guardian angel. I think you owe me a reward for saving your life. Small bills, please.” Or, “Hey, I’m having some guy problems, can you spare a sec? I need to bitch to somebody.” That’s what Rebecca’s are for, right?

    [A version of this story originally appeared on]
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