Writing Catalog

Carli Mendelow

Grade: 12

Bay Village High School

Instructor: Erin Beirne

Life's Bite

Personal Essay/Memoir

Life's Bite

This is not a sob story, but it is my story. A story of a curly brown-haired first grade girl with supple, flawless cheeks.

I had just finished my grueling (at the time) math homework for the night. My nightgown was on, hair freshly detangled. Bedtime was approaching. I trotted downstairs to say goodnight to my Siberian Husky, Ranger (my best friend). His name was Ranger because of the Lone Ranger, and he had a distinct mask framing his bright powder blue eyes reflective of primal savagery.

I stepped into the laundry room, the bottoms of my tiny feet guiding me over to his cage as I navigated. I crouched, opening Ranger's cage, getting inside to pet him. He lunged at me, clamping his jaws around my face. I experienced vibrations of shock, my 45 pound body going limp, lifeless. My heart stopped beating. My mother heard his snarl and ran into the room to rip me away from his mouth. It was a game of tug of war, each tug piercing my skin deeper, harder.

I awoke to a monster looking back at me in the bathroom mirror. My face was shielded with blood and gashes. Buckets of fear-filled tears infiltrated my open wounds, causing them to sting and smolder. The face I had seen every morning was gone.

I looked at my hands, the very hands that once frosted cupcakes and drew animals. They were gnarled, shredded by teeth. I reached for my terrified twin brother in the corner of my hospital room, his eyes bulging in horror. He was afraid for me, afraid of me.

Thirty-two stitches later, I was sewn up, connected again. I returned to school a month later. Classmates cried when they saw me, calling me Frankenstein. I was labeled "Cat Girl" because my scars looked like cat whiskers. I loathed my face; I thought it was hideous.

Many laser sessions and surgeries did improve the scars some, but classmates still bullied and tormented me. I relived the experience of being ripped apart every single day. Adults touched my scars, joking about me being in a "dog fight". Teachers pulled me out of class to ask what had happened. My classmates refused to sit on the swingset with me, fearing the association of being with a zombie. The bullying did not subside until my parents went to the superintendent. I received geometric-reconstruction surgery in 6th grade, and I was called "Kim Kardashian '' for seeking cosmetic attention.

This freak accident may have mauled my face, but it did not maul my core. In fact, it strengthened my compassion for others. Each person has a defining trait that is a piece of the mosaic of the world's faces. It is up to the people in this world to allow those pieces to be seen in all their true glory: scratched, shaded, chipped, torn, and dated. A mosaic without differences would just be a singular tile meant to be glazed over by the human eye. The signet details within cultivate the stories of lives that continue living.

When I close my eyes, I can relive the moment I was bitten. I determine whether to let that memory dictate my dreams as I hit the pillow each night. I dream of change that can be brought to the youth through medicine. But, if I could go back and stop this from happening, I would not. I view my scars as strength; my story as a mantra for perseverance and benevolence. I am not a victim, nor am I defined by this tragic past trauma. I am a warrior, and I will never stop fighting, no matter the fright of life's bite.

The Dining Room Table


The Dining Room Table

Have you ever seen a stereotypical family sitting around a stereotypical dining room table?

All of its members clad in vibrant gingham with lace trim?

Crest-white smiles beaming and gleaming, even more precious than grandmother's China?

Plates properly portioned with the five food groups?

My dining room table is not like that. My dining room table is a granite-slabbed kitchen island, sitting in the sea of force-feeding. I am a fisherman on this island, stranded and starving. As I relax at the helm of my ship, I enjoy every minute of the uncertainty of nourishment as it distracts me from divulging into my cravings. Many waves of anger rush at me, screaming:




Yet, I do not eat. Not because I am hungry. I AM RAVENOUS. But, I relish feeling ravenous as I sail through this storm. The storm, my mind, rages for carbohydrates, sugars, trans-fats. A burger is presented to my eyes, and I jerk the helm of the ship forward, the bow swallowed by water. A slice of pizza is mentioned as a choice for dinner, and my ship's sail rips into pieces, overcome by the thought of eating greasy, caloric-dense dough. Hunger drives impulse. Impulse drives sporadic twists and turns. And, both will drive my ship into the bottom of the sea.

In my mind, everything is trying to rain on me, trying to beat and soak my soul into relinquishing my malnourishment. I am fighting to stay hungry. Although I try to weather it, I can not take cover from this storm, for I am too weak to find a place to hide. I am too weak from starvation. I am too weak to battle these cravings. I am too weak to battle these questions: "Why are you doing this to yourself?" and "When are you going to see that you are dying?" The answer I search for lingers in front of my sunken eyes, tantalizing me to fuel my brain in order to form an intelligent thought.

Wait, I just lied to you. My dining room table is not a ship but a mouse trap, a thick wooden slab that is coiled with treacherous metal. There is a morsel of a meal dead center, and I know that if I even touch a crumb, life's jaws will snap me away from my content place of stomach grumbling.

Now, to be truthful, I lied to you two times. My dining room table is a granite slab that is a kitchen island, but not in the middle of the ocean. It provides a barricade from two screaming parents, outraged at my consistent need to starve myself of life. I defy them, denying the fried chicken platter they purchased for me for dinner. I refuse to succumb to anything or anyone that wants to trap me.

My dining room is not a mouse trap, but I sometimes feel that I'm trapped by a plate of food. The demon that sits in my headspace waits intently for me to give in to this sin-filled urge. My father sits on the left of me and cries tears, fearful, praying intently for me to take a bite of my food in order to live and stop my self-destruction. My mother sits on the right. She knows I am already burned, too scathed for satiation. She knows she once was burned like me, too. So when she speaks, I cannot hear her thoughts.

But instead of giving in to either of them, I get up and leave the dining room table, preparing to have a seat at my next meal at the bottom of the sea, sunk.