Volume 40 ~ 2017
Sky blue eyes meet across an empty room, before they look away as quickly as birds fleeing from an impending storm. Seconds later, they look up again and smile before looking back down. They play games with their eyes until one laughs and the other smiles. The next day, they sit closer.
Their eyes meet over steaming cups of coffee, bubbles swirling in the brew. They laugh at the way they acted as strangers, too scared to acknowledge what was there. He hides his feelings, she opens her heart. They laugh until their cups are empty and stay a little longer.
She cries when people don’t love her the same way she loved them. She drops her head on his shoulder, and he doesn’t flinch. He lets her stay there until her pain is replaced with the strange comfort that he gives her. At 2 a.m., she walks outside. At 2:03, he follows and kisses her under the streetlights.
The streetlights were no match for their glow. Together, they set cities ablaze. Every revolution begins and ends with them gazing into each other’s eyes, both wondering why it took so long to find someone that completed them so well.
Two voices behind a locked door make her wonder who she’d really been in love with. His apologies come by the thousands, through phone calls and texts, but it wasn’t his voice anymore. When she deleted him from her phone, it was as if she was trying to forget someone she’d never met. She was empty, he was empty. All that was left was ashes.
There are no fireflies in Salt Lake City. There is, however, a blonde-haired, brown-eyed girl with an annoying twin brother and a plane ticket to middle-of-nowhere Nebraska. For the whole flight, she gazes out the window, wondering what this strange place could look like. Would there be mountains? Skyscrapers? Kangaroos? Her questions were answered with flat golden plains and open blue skies, where you could see every bleached, bloated cloud for miles.
There are no kangaroos in Nebraska, but there is a brown-haired, green-eyed girl, eight years older than her, who knows what it feels like to be left out. So on a soft July evening, where the dim light has barely settled on the horizon like dust, the brown-haired girl took her to a quiet country road with the intention of showing her the stars that fell to earth.
After a few quiet moments, as if the hand of God sprinkled them from a salt shaker, candied blazes of sunlight appeared in front of her eyes. The blonde-haired girl reached with gentle hands to touch them, afraid that the light might burn her. One landed on her outstretched arm, and suddenly skyscrapers and kangaroos were far less enchanting than the glowing insects brushed across the road.
There are no fireflies in Salt Lake City, but there is a girl who knows you can find beauty in all corners of the earth, even in middle-of-nowhere Nebraska.
I stand on the gravel road
near the cemetery, by
a spot where the rusty white fence
doesn’t meet the post next to it.
I think of my old daycare, full of
primary-colored playground equipment
a chain-link fence.
Every now and then, I would dare
my friend Katie to sneak over
to a spot where the chains
Together, we’d slip through the opening,
and bask in the glow of the same
sunlight, but in a way,
it felt different.
Our mischievous giggles
threatened to reveal us
and our imaginations
that ran wild.
In that moment, we had
and could throw worries
to the wind.
We could run away,
past our preschool paradise
and escape to the world,
letting the breeze blow us away.
Instead, we would simply slip
back inside the fence, that single drop
enough to quench our five-year-old thirst.
I stand on the gravel road
near the cemetery, and I possess
the freedom that my heart once ached for
and my head once feared.
In a way,
My heart still aches for it
for the power it holds
and how I have failed to use it.
I still fear it the way I used to,
and thoughts of distress
Getting out of bed,
walking out of my own door,
and standing on the gravel road
near the cemetery
is as frightening
as sneaking outside that fence.
On a summer night full of stars, a shadow lays still on 2nd Avenue. It is silent, staring at the sky above. Its breath smells of a strong drink that makes her feel powerless. Her back melts into the asphalt, becoming part of the street. She couldn’t move if she wanted to. A smooth ocean runs through her veins, the waves lapping against her bones. She wants to sway with the rhythm of the water.
She had taken three bottles from the cabinet above the washing machine and drank them alone on her couch. It scorched her throat, but the memories burned her far worse than the alcohol. The house was too lonely. Walking through town, her body grew heavier with every step. As she reached the street, her thoughts were too heavy to bear. She laid down on the tear-soaked pavement.
She felt as though she could pick out every single star above her, pluck them from their spot in the dark sky, and take them to his doorstep. How many stars would it take to make him love her again? Too many to count, she told herself. She extended her hand into the air, trying to grasp just one.
The deadly crescendo of a car engine came closer and closer, but the ocean inside her had settled. The sound almost seemed to be calling her home, and she felt herself sinking farther and farther into the rumbling earth.
Tires scrape blacktop and brakes shriek. She can see bright lights passing above her. There are voices. “What are you doing?” “Who are you?” She doesn’t answer. All she can feel is the warm summer breeze caressing her skin. They ask questions, but any answer that she had blows away with the cotton from the trees. When the voices fade away, she closes her eyes and smiles, letting the tide take her out to sea.