Volume 44 ~ 2022

Allison Boettcher




It was a cool winter afternoon in Dartford, Ireland. Naylah and her friends were ice skating on the frozen pond just outside the town limits. They always skated here, and never really thought anything of it. Playing tag and seeing who can do the best trick, they didn’t even notice the Caution: Thin Ice sign that was near the edge. It was the beginning days of winter and the small pond had yet to be completely frozen. While doing her trick, Naylah got to where the ice was the thinnest. Her friends noticed the sign that peeked from behind Naylah’s fluffy winter coat. They tried to warn her, but minutes before she had put in her earbuds to help her focus on the hard trick she was about to perform. Naylah could not hear from the world around her. As she went farther and farther towards the middle of the pond where the ice is the thinnest. Her friends tried their best to get her to come back towards the edge, but they knew it was not safe enough for them to go out and save their friend.  At this point, Naylah jumped up to do the finale of her routine; when she landed, there was a small crack below her. Being completely oblivious, she turned around to face her friends in the distance, took out her earbuds, and asked them what they thought. Immediately, the ice below Naylah’s feet broke and she fell below the surface of the water. Her friends frantically called 911 not knowing what to do. When the ambulance arrived, it was too close to too late. 

Rushing to the emergency room, Naylah’s parents worried that they would never see their daughter again. Naylah’s heartbeat slowed down as the minutes passed. Transferring Naylah’s frozen body from ambulance to hospital bed, doctors of all specialties came in to help this 17-year-old come back to her true self. Her parents waiting outside praying for a miracle. They could faintly hear the doctors, clear… Clear… Clear… With each word Naylah’s parents’ stomachs turned with the feeling of losing their only child. The doctor walks out, the look on his face concerning. Her parents stood up to face the doctor that came out of the same room as their half-dead daughter. He said, “We have good news and bad news, which would you prefer first?” Naylah’s parents looked at each other. Without saying a word they knew that they needed some good news first. “Good news.” The doctor nodded and proceeded with his thought. “Your daughter is awake-” Naylah’s parents could feel the joy spreading through their body. The doctor continued, “but there are some complications. You can come in.” Naylah’s parents walked in, but everything in the room seemed normal. Nothing was broken, their daughter was like she was before, granted a little pale.

“There’s nothing wrong,” said Naylah’s mother. Everyone else in the room looked over at the side table that was next to Naylah’s hospital bed. All the tools and equipment were sitting on a silvery gray liquid dripping off the table. Naylah’s father was confused, and a little shocked. “What’s that?” he asked. “The tray,” one of the doctors retorted. Even more confused than before, her parents did not believe the doctor, but he continued. “Naylah touched the tray. It melted in her touch.” Naylah’s parents just laughed at this statement. Frustrated, the doctor pulled a new latex glove from the box and handed it to Naylah. It, too, melted in Naylah’s hand as she looked up at her puzzled parents. Then, a different doctor said, “We are going to have to keep Naylah here to run some tests to find a way to control it.”

After a few days, the doctors found out that only her bare hands liquify objects, but they still needed to find a way to get coverage for her hands without her making them “melt”. It had been twelve days since the accident when they came up with a conclusion. If they filled a glove in Mercury, the touch of Naylah’s hands wouldn’t melt them. Now Naylah was able to go home and go back to school, on the condition that she keeps her gloves on at all times. The Mercury was only on the inside, so it wouldn’t harm her if she touched any other part of her bare skin. The gloves were also thin, so it wouldn’t change as much of her regular day life.

Naylah returned to school the next week and tried to continue her life like it was before. It was hard; she was being made fun of for wearing gloves all the time and not touching her pencil, or paper, or lunch tray. Her friends still hung out with her, but she was worried if she told them what she did they wouldn’t anymore. After a few weeks, however, Naylah started failing classes because she stopped doing her work with fear. Soon enough, she got suspended and there were no other options close enough to commute. She had to homeschool with her mother so that she could still get some form of education.

Four months later, Naylah lost her gloves after taking them off to shower, but the doctor couldn’t get her an appointment in time. The next day, Naylah’s father was getting ready to go to the store. Naylah insisted that she come, but her father was worried that she would touch something by accident. She promised she wouldn’t and said that she wanted to do something normal for once. Guilty, her father agreed.

She missed being able to do things like this, and really wanted to push the cart like all the other kids were doing. Naylah said that she could push the cart with her elbows, but her father told her that she couldn’t. Instead, she followed her father without touching anything. Her dad started walking towards the restroom and told Naylah, “I’ll be quick. Watch the cart. Don’t touch anything!” Naylah nodded and stood outside the men’s bathroom waiting. She heard a voice, “Hey, Glove Girl!” It was her bully at school. He walked up to Naylah and looked at her hands. Wittily, he said, “Won’t your hands get cold without your gloves?” She was frustrated and raised a fist to him without thinking. Once she noticed what she was doing she lowered her arm. The boy in front of her scoffed and pushed Naylah. She put her hands behind her to catch her fall. With the touch of her bare hand, the floor turned to liquid. Everyone and everything in the store dropped and began swimming, floating, sinking. Naylah, however, was trapped under one of the tall shelves and couldn’t get to the surface of the liquid mush. Everything went black, she thought that this was how she was going to die. Then she saw a light. Eight people standing around her. Six in white trench coats, gloves, and masks. Two, her parents. Naylah asked, “What’s going on?” Everyone in the room smiled and said, “she’s alright.” “Her heartbeat is back to normal and she is warming up,” said one doctor. Confused, Naylah sat up looking around, seeing the hospital room around her, and her skates on the chair on the back wall. Her mom jokes, “You’re not going ice skating for a while.”

“I know,” said Naylah.

For You

I would hunt a camel in Arizona,

Access Burma’s internet


For you, I would keep my child from playing in California’s puddles

And eat in a Chicago restaurant while it is on fire,


Parachute unmarried on Sunday in Florida.

I would name my pig Napoleon in France


In Indiana, I would put Barbie in Ken’s clothes

And swear at dead people in North Carolina for you


I would get an Ohio fish drunk,

Or put a sleeping donkey in an Oklahoma bathtub after 7 p.m.


Only in Sedona, I would have a different astrological sign

And chew gum in Singapore for you


Sleep in a North Dakota cheese factory for you,

I would flush the toilet in Switzerland after 10 p.m.


Sell my eye to someone in Texas,

And take my violin home from Utah in a paper bag,


In all these places, I wouldn’t do those things


Inspiration from the lyrics~Livin’ in a lonely world


No one, silence;

All alone, gone


You are empty,

The world is empty,

The song is empty.

No beat, no music


Down in the deepest deep, lowest low

You are there, no one else is


What felt as easy,

Is now difficult


What was there,

Is no longer


What seems to have been,

Never will be


All you can hear?

Your own heartbeat


No voices, no people

You, alon


Space, where things float free

There is no “home”


Wandering from place to place

No more directions


Sleeping with no alarm clock

Dreaming to your heart’s content


It is your world

Adventure to wild places


It may feel lonely, like you are the only one

You are independent, but not by yourself


You make your world

Make it full