I was birthed from Martha’s relationship with Jamie. She nurtured me like a mother should, but the question is if I really deserved it.

I was a terrible child. I did not play with her. Instead, I cried insistent tears. I sprawled on her bed, forcing her to stay with me in the room for hours. She tended to me like I deserved it.

I grew to like wearing dark clothes. Dark clothes with holes. Dark clothes with darkness beneath it. The blackest of blacks. I liked to stay with Martha in her room and told her to keep the blinds shut. The sun bothered me something terrible.

I liked being curled up against Martha, listening to her as she drifted into a long rest. Martha stayed with me and took naps with me instead of going to work or going outside. I liked that about Martha. I liked that she chose me and nurtured me.

Martha also chose Jamie, though, many times. Jamie delighted me in a strong way, because when Martha was around Jamie, I grew very tall. Taller than Jamie and Martha combined. So tall that I could barely see my toes. My clothes became very elaborately dark, and sparkled black. The blackest of blacks. Looking in the mirror, my eyes had no whites—only darks, and darks under those darks.

When Martha ventured outside with Jamie, the sun did not pierce my soul at all. I was that invincible.

Martha once told me that I was the greatest thing that had happened to her. That my name ought to be Love. I had always thought that my name was Grief.

—By Nicole L., 18, California