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Jenessa Abrams, Age 12

A Norman Mailer Fiction Fellow, Jenessa Abrams is a writer and translator whose work has appeared in publications such as Washington Square, The Rumpus, The Offing, The Brooklyn Rail, and The New York Times. Presented here are excerpts from a diary she kept in middle school.

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— Jenessa Abrams, Age 12

Jenessa Abrams

“My first experience with death was Goldie, the goldfish. I was in elementary school. I rocked back and forth on a cot in my basement and repeated the words: ‘Goldie was my best friend.’ Even then, I understood what being gone meant. Around the time I started this journal, I lost a Hebrew schoolteacher who I really didn’t like and my great-grandmother who I desperately loved (the way her eyes blossomed when she saw a box of chocolates was hypnotic). Growing up, we didn’t talk about death; it was glazed over, saved for a later date, softened or shielded in hopes of protecting us from it. I used my journal to ask questions and invent answers. I asked more questions than I had answers for. I still do.”