Back to Debbie

Revisiting this piece because it feels like this is so many people right now.

It was me, too, when I wrote it.

Maybe this is where my surreal other selves come from…

characters who grew out of the re-weaving…

Actually wondering now whether the term “rubbing out” is a Brit thing.

Just in case… rubbing out basically means erasing, with a rubber eraser – like, y’know, when you’re using a pencil to draw, and it goes wonky, so you wanna start again…

So anyway,

I hope anyone reading this now can hold on to the hope of that masterpiece –

and oddly enough, I’m including myself in that…

The delicate disappearance of Debbie

Each day, Debbie rubbed out a few more of her colours.

Each day, as people tore her off a strip,

took her down a peg

and gradually hacked away at her fragile foundations,

a little more of her shading began to unravel,


and generally discombobulate.

Debbie never said the right thing,

or did what other people thought she was supposed to do.

They said so on all the forms

and in all the classrooms

and the kitchens

and shops

and offices

and garages –

and all the proper places

where all the proper colours were made

and then tested

to make sure they stood up to argument.

Debbie never seemed to achieve anything

or win anything

(besides scoldings

and sneers

and the superior smirks

of people who loved having soft targets

to laugh at).

The only thing she ever seemed to do

was slink away

and disappear.

What nobody noticed,

of course,

was just how completely she was vanishing.

They couldn’t  see the soft clockwork eroding inside her.

They couldn’t see the unwanted colours dissolving in her tears.

Without even realizing it,

Debbie was becoming quietly brilliant at the strange art of self-erasure.

With slow,

deliberate strokes,

she was

rubbing away the very essence of her soul –

until only a few stubborn splodges of core Debbie remained,

floating in a kind of aimless abandon

like shells caught in the tide.

With this splodginess, however, came a startling realisation –

unlike anything she could previously have imagined in the sad world that lived behind Debbie’s eyes,

where everything felt lost and unwanted until it had been given a name…

but somehow, nothing seemed right

until all the names and labels had peeled away.

As the shells and splodges churned around her, Debbie began to realise she wasn’t erasing anymore.

She was painting herself…

weaving herself home through the currents…

charting her way to new shores, where her shaky voice might at last have stories to tell.

If only she could find the words.

If only she hadn’t spent so long between the lines on which other people wrote their meanings.

If only there was a voice for things unspoken.

There were still so many subtle terrors in this place of churn and brushstrokes.

But at least now,

when people meet Debbie,

even if they don’t quite understand her colours,

even if they don’t believe the shell patterns in her eyes,

they’re never left in any doubt

that there are masterpieces waiting, somewhere out beyond her shoreline.

Published by Woodsy

I am so many little things, so many tiny words, woven here between those tales I think perhaps I need to tell... between those nightlights on the shore. I am a downpour, caught in myself... barely a heartbeat from running away.

3 thoughts on “Back to Debbie

  1. So beautiful. As I read your poetry, I find that I am essentially devouring it. It’s so meaningful and vivid that I feel as though I’m diving in. It’s true that even at our darkest point, if we hold on, we can find the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Liked by 2 people

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