Alphabet Magnets


I refused to take my heart out of my chest to sew it onto my sleeve, because that was just another way to bleed out.

Ashton Bruce, Staff Writer

I remember when I first got my own apartment, the first thing I bought was a refrigerator, and the second thing I bought was a pack of plastic alphabet magnets. My friend told me I could write everything I was thinking. I told her that my options were going to be pretty limited because I only had one of each letter.

Boxes scattered across the apartment, I ripped open the plastic bag that contained the entirety of the alphabet, and they spilled out across the tiled kitchen floor. I slid down onto the floor, picking up the letters in the palm of my hand. My shirt was slightly tugged up, and my lower back touched the cool yellow walls as I placed letters onto the fridge, spelling out “We are all good.” Except I was missing letters, leaving the different-colored letters crooked and unaligned. What I instead spelled was different and still made me grin.

The expanse of white was decorated, without photographs or memories, but instead with new words, new feelings.


I did not know who the ‘we’ was, but I knew that the plastic, childish magnets made me feel stronger. For all of September, the words greeted me in the morning when I opened my fridge for orange juice, and they changed whenever I bought more alphabetical magnets to spell something else: THINGS ARE EXCITING AND GOOD!

I used a lowercase “i” as an exclamation mark.

That stayed on my fridge, while everything stayed exciting and good, and only changed whenever I did. I didn’t add anymore magnets; I didn’t add any pictures. The only thing on the fridge was what I felt and what I spelled.

For the month of October, when nights came early and I only had my cat to bat her paw on my hand, I wrote things of loneliness and hurt. The fridge was a canvas for emotion, a journal made up of only a few words that I wrote in daily or weekly, and I wrote only things for me to see. When my friends came over, I scrambled up the letters into random gibberish and watched them write out potty-language on my fridge. I laughed and left it there until the alphabet called to be rearranged into words of emotion and vulnerability, and in January, I met someone who I could write about on my fridge.

I have never been that great with words, but arranging plastic on the fridge is different than putting ink on paper or typing words out on the keyboard. Calling her beautiful was something easy I could do without her ever knowing. I would write out synonyms for ‘good’ until I ran out of letters, until the white of my fridge was scribbled in plastic letters.

In June, I asked her over for dinner, and I asked her, politely because I knew she liked manners, if she could get out some ice from the freezer.  She agreed because there was no reason not to. She walked in front of the fridge and saw the alphabet of my own heart on the front.


And she looked at me, and she smiled, and she tucked her hair behind her ear and nodded at me and said, “Thanks.”

That night, when she left, I swiped away the letters and wrote what I never said: YOU’RE WELCOME. ANYTIME.

That next September, when she did not come over to my house anymore for dinner, and she did not care about my manners, I lost the feeling of being god. I sat on the floor, staring up at the plastic letters. They didn’t move, but I imagined them rearranging themselves to say everything I ever said to her, everything I ever thought about her. SHE IS THE LIGHT OF MY LIFE. SHE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT MAKES ME FEEL OKAY. SHE MAKES ME FEEL WARM.

I imagined everything I felt rearranged on my refrigerator, and then, I removed the scissors from the cabinet and cut through my chest. My fingers peeled through my own skin and pulled it apart like throwing back blankets from my mattress on the floor. I opened myself up, my heart beating against my fingers like it was in a fist fight. I touched my heart, and it was cold, metallic, and aching. Bloodied fingers touched the yellow plastic letters, plucking them from the fridge and placing them instead on my heart, writing out new words and emotions into myself. Writing my own stories and feelings inside of my chest cavity, I removed all the letters from the fridge and rewrote everything I ever said about her and myself and my friend and my gods, until the fridge was fully, uninterruptedly white.

I pulled myself up onto my feet with aching legs, opening the cabinet and removing thread, sewing my skin together. I had a scar on my chest, diagonal across my breast, and I felt the plastic letters rattling around in my chest.

I refused to take my heart out of my chest to sew it onto my sleeve because that was just another way to bleed out.

I stared out at the fridge, never touching the cool surface again, not to open it up for orange juice or dinner, and without her, I starved myself with my plastic alphabetical magnets attached to my heart.