Caitlin and I: An Imitation of “Borges and I” by Jorge Luis Borges

by Caitlin Bartley '24 on December 6, 2022
Portfolio Staff


a slouching stick figure
photo creds: pixabay

TW: Eating Disorder, Bulimia 

I resent Caitlin for her name. It means pure, from the Gaelic, and she wears it like her Catholic school uniform. Tights, white collared polo, and a pleated skirt. I hate that skirt; the way Caitlin rolls it so that she doesn’t look like a prude but keeps it right above the knee so that she doesn’t look like a slut. I don’t believe in organized religion, but I find my body in a church when Caitlin decides, reciting random words until they sound like the gibberish of prayer.

I pick my cuticles until my skin rips and wear my hair in frizzy braids while Caitlin paints her nails in a French manicure and spends too much money on a haircut. She speaks to give correct answers and affirmations while my thoughts are held captive behind her lips, firmly pressed together, making them thin and pale. If I were to purge my opinions, would it feel just like the first time Caitlin tried to purge her dinner, a slight burning in the throat followed by short-lived satisfaction? See, she doesn’t always have control over my impulses. Our impulses. One day, I will slowly erode her from the inside out. There’s no reality in which purity exists, Caitlin.

The honey-colored highlights she got at seventeen have finally grown out. “Nothing gold can stay.” I read her that poem when she went to college and got a C in chemistry, no longer the honors student that Mommy likes to brag about. Her hair is darker now and some days it falls out in clumps in the shower, clogging the drain. She goes to sleep with it wet and cold on her pillow and doesn’t run a brush through it in the morning. She stops using her name.