other people

3 min readDec 20, 2021

“But human beings are put on God’s green earth for at least one reason: to consume and be taken up and consume other people […] What is there but other people?”

— Hilton Als, White Girls

When I read a book, I oftentimes skim to the end of a sentence I don’t like in search of another one. I get bored. I don’t get captivated, and even when I do become captivated, I want something more.

I often ask myself what the little-girl version of who I am might think about who I am. Most of the time, I think that she would hate me. Other times, I think that she was just as evil as I am; she would love me selfishly. She would love that I have not changed, that I just throw my tantrums silently now.

Twinship has always been something that escaped me. I’ve never understood we-ness. I have always understood I-ness, individuality. I have always understood what it was like to be on my own, because that’s always been the safest option. Every time I rely on someone else — fully rely on them, which rarely happens nowadays — I find myself in places I don’t want to be. Upside down, hanging, waiting for someone to cut me down from this uncomfortable position where all the blood is rushing to my head. Twinship is dangerous.

I’ve tried twinship. I’ve tried to be a we. It has not worked, and I am furious about that. I am so immature and mad that I don’t get to consume and be consumed in the same way.

I am consumed constantly. I am consumed, sometimes used, but never in a fulfilling way; in a way that is either overbearing or demeaning. I want balanced. But that’s not true. I actually don’t think it’s true that I want to be fully taken in or consumed. I want to be sipped. I want to be a delicacy. I want to be taken by someone who really barely wants to take me, or wants to take me so badly that they have to savor me. I want someone to take me the way someone drinks an IPA.

I don’t know if I’ve found twinship before. I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to be with another person in a real way. And that’s a flaw within myself. I don’t trust anyone enough with my I-ness to be a we. We-ness is summation of two I-nesses, is it not? Maybe not, maybe it’s something more.

I don’t even have we-ness with cigarettes. I always feel like the cigarette I’m smoking is different from me, looking at me with third-party eyes, it belongs to someone else. It is from someone else. It is not me.

So many shirts I try on, none of them fit. Smoking cigarettes didn’t fit (I am still addicted). Nothing fits, but I wear the shirts anyway, because I hope that maybe no one else will notice. But people do notice these things, people notice when you’re trying too hard, and I’ve been trying too hard.

Images flash in my head, of you smiling, of you with your friends, of me not there, of your we-ness and your twinship with everyone around you, and with my I-ness all-consuming all of the time. This is about you. This is about how we couldn’t have twinship, never. For so many reasons, and for so few.

It is embarrassing to write about everything and nothing so much. I feel embarrassed of how I only know how to live on paper, in between lines. In White Girls, Hilton Als wrote, “Half living life so I can get down to really living it by writing about it. I wrote about my first kiss more than I lived it. I wouldn’t know what I looked like in relation to […] my twin, if I didn’t describe it on the page.”

I don’t remember my first kiss. If I remembered, I’d never let it go.




Isabella (she/her) writes stories. She graduates with a BA in May 2024 and is going on to pursue her MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Kentucky.