Volume 43 ~ 2021
Roaming in the water tummy up,
My fuzzy coat glistens in the sun,
My otter pups circle around me,
Longing for my attention
Tired, yet content,
My young are above all else,
From their bulging eyes,
To their tiny feet,
I will protect them at all costs.
Hungry, but too busy feeding,
I struggle with overthinking.
Part of me misses independence,
The resources all to myself.
Consumed in their existence,
They give me life,
Yet take a large piece of me.
They fill my heart,
Yet empty my soul.
They give me peace,
Yet give me worry.
One day they’ll feel the same,
Filled yet empty,
From the journey of parenthood,
Feeling forever full,
Yet always empty.
I wouldn’t change it for the world,
I could focus on what they take,
But I will step into their innocence,
Their love for life,
Their yearning for adulthood,
Their love for me.
As I look for food,
I do it for them,
Feeling more content,
I gave them life,
They didn’t choose this,
Therefore I will see how they do.
Children of Deities
“Wake up Zahra! We have got to go.” my brother Amon begged as he shook me awake.
“I’m tired of your games Amon, go back to bed, it's still dark.”
“No,” Amon pleaded, “We have got to go. They are coming. It’s my fault, I had no idea they would reach us so soon.”
Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.
Amon and I are orphans. We don’t know much of our childhood, other than that we just so happen to be the children of Egyptian Gods and that our parents only left us to protect us, but I’d argue that they put us in more danger. Ever since we were dumped in the middle of a sandy oasis, when Amon was 1 and I was two years his senior, we have been actively running from the council. We can’t settle anywhere long enough to get jobs, so we have been relying on the small amount of money our parents occasionally send. Quarter yearly they send us a shet of silver, brought to us by their dear friend, Bes. Bes is quite the character to say the least. He is covered in hair, so much so his chest hair finds its way through the threads of his linen cloak, peeking out, basking in the heat of the sun. His rounded face, with flushed cheeks and a nose, twice wider than my thumbs put together, is wrinkled from the heat of the sun and his constant beaming smile. Bes was sent by my parents to protect me and my younger brother. He is in charge of bringing us our small amount of money and guiding us on where to go, as well as helping us map out where we go to avoid getting lost.
Though we don’t know the full reason our parents left, we have been sent brief letters from them, delivered by Bes, which have talked about how as soon as they finish their “missions”, they hope to collect us. I love them, but I can’t help but have doubts. We haven’t seen them in 11 years, we have grown so much. I am now 14 and Amon is 12. They left us to fend for ourselves. Bes is sure to let us know how hard it has been for our parents and he has told us brief stories of their journeys, but we still don’t know their names. We know practically nothing about our parents’ secret lives. All we have is each other and our large dwarf friend, Bes. I am hoping Bes will come back soon with more information on our parents since we have been pressuring him to do so. He is a very kind-hearted man, but when it comes to spilling information on our parents, his lips seal and his face stiffens. We know there is so much hidden, so we are hoping for a letter to give some clarity.
That is the least of my concerns right now. As we sprint down the hallway with yellowed wallpaper and arcade-esque carpet, we notice the elevator is blocked off with a caution tape I have never seen before. This tape is thick, rope-like, and has hieroglyphics, along with english. I see a symbol I recognize, a scarab. I gaze at the caution tape, but I quickly snap back into reality and begin a slow jog the opposite direction.
“Other way Amon! Go, the elevator is blocked with caution tape.” I beckon down the dim hallway.
Amon carrying our belongings, sighs, and turns around and begins his halfhearted jog the opposite way to the stairwell. I follow him, speeding up and going ahead of him. I reach the stairwell and the heavy metal door is dented from a seemingly large object. I try to open the door but quickly realize it is locked. I attempt to wedge my only weapon, my large, curved, sword-like, khopesh, in between the door and the rusty metal door frame. I use all the strength I can muster up but as much as I try, it doesn’t seem to be enough. I call for Amon to run faster to help me. As he arrives, he drops our small packs and attempts to help me wedge my weapon in order to pry the door open. Panting, my forehead beaming with sweat, I tell Amon there has to be another way.
“We have to get out of here. The caution tape was oddly thick, maybe we can see if we can open the elevator.” I suggest trying to catch my breath.
“You think the tape is a decoy of some sort?” Amon questioned, “I suppose we will go see.”
I take our clothing bag to lighten his load, hoping he will speed up so we can hurry to the elevator. We ran, this time Amon kept up with me. I break into a sprint after having a sudden feeling of danger. Keeping our pace brisk, we reach the elevator. I ripped the tape down, rapidly throwing it to the floor as it was burning hot. My hand quickly begins to swell and burn. Hot tears well up in my eyes, I try not to let them flow, but they overflow my eyes, and before I know it, I have tears streaming down my face.
“We have to go,” Amon mumbled, “we can take care of this later. I feel it. It's getting closer.”
I stare into his eyes, confused. He feels it too? I’d had a deep bubbling feeling that danger was coming, but I thought I had been overthinking. I stop my stare and press the elevator door open with my burnt hand, holding my khopesh in my unscathed hand. The elevator door slowly opens, seemingly struggling to open. Amon pulls me in by my arm.
“Okay, what level? Are we getting out of here?” Amon wondered.
“Uh sure, go to the bottom floor.” I answer with my teeth locked together, trying to cope with the pain.
The elevator door slowly closes with loud squeaks and then the elevator very slowly goes from floor 18 to the first floor. As we slowly descend down, I gaze all across the trim around the bottom and top of the elevator. I haven’t perfected my hieroglyphics, but I recognize many symbols.
“Amon, that hand hieroglyphic is a D, I believe the vulture is an A if I remember correctly,” I begin pondering, “the water ripple is one I’ve struggled to remember, so I’m unsure. The stand is a G as far as I remember, the reed is an E, I remember that one because it has two Es, and I’m not sure what the mouth is.”
“Okay, so we have D-A-... then the water ripple, which now that I think I believe is an N. So, D-A-N-G,” Amon began.
“DANGER,” I exclaimed! “Okay, we have to figure out what to do. As soon as the door opens we either have to get out or stay in. I don’t know where the danger is, but we have to figure this out.” I said, words flying from my mouth faster than I’ve ever spoken.
We locked eyes as we heard the ding of the elevator signalling that we had reached our destination.
“Ready?” Amon questioned, his voice quivering.
“Yes.” I muttered.
Late nights begging the world to let me be “normal”,
Hoping, praying to God to save me,
Begging God to have the church accept me,
As the tears flow, my eyes grow heavier and heavier,
Before I know it I fall asleep,
Into a brief state of peace.
I find myself choosing my clothes based upon how
Stereotypically “gay” they look,
Purposefully avoiding those of which will tell my secret for me.
Sitting in government class,
Students’ words fill my ears,
Their lack of acceptance for my community fills the room.
The teacher just watches,
Listening to their comments,
Staring as if their behavior is acceptable,
Giving a slight head nod their way.
Each a little worse than the last,
Sitting quietly trying, to avoid commenting,
I glance at my friend,
My gaze asking him what to do.
The dagger digs deeper,
Tearing my heart more each time.
I glance back at him,
Then back at the students,
Finally my gaze moves to my teacher.
I muster up the small amount of courage to say something,
Trying to speak up without making it obvious,
Words exit my mouth,
Shaking but firm,
My friend defends our community with me.
I find a small amount of comfort,
Knowing he feels the same,
Students beckon back,
Shouting quickly fills the room.
My teacher finally decided to speak up,
Though not in our defense,
Instead he told us to be quiet and to stay after class,
He wanted us to explain ourselves,
Our reasoning for what we did,
I angrily explained and left the room.
The incident ran through my head for the remainder of the day,
Wondering what more I could’ve done,
Roaming the halls caught in my own head,
Left with an overwhelming amount of dread.
I pull myself to my last classes,
Trying to focus,
Finally making it through the remainder of my day.
I arrive home,
Exhausted and defeated,
Doing the only thing I knew how to do,
Cry, let it out.
Shortly after I decide what to do,
I will no longer force myself to try to fit into their mold,
I am my own person,
With my own ideas on my identity,
My own ideas on the world and how people should be treated.
This world is ours,
What we make of it is our decision,
And I choose to avoid their mold,
And instead make my own.
Just because I overflow their mold,
Doesn't mean I don’t have the power to create my own.
As the sun rises she bangs her head on her mattress,
Notifying me she is awake,
When I walk in,
Her radiant smile fills the room.
She walks in the kitchen begging for a BIG donut,
And then begging for a mini candy cane,
No matter the day, weather, or time of year.
Her laugh is contagious,
As she pushes out a fart far bigger than what should be possible,
Sure to make anyone laugh with her.
Eyes a brighter blue than that of the Caribbean,
Her presence is enough to illuminate the universe,
The caring nature of the best person you could imagine talking to,
Helping me with my drink,
Making sure to taste test it before I am allowed to drink from it.
As I cry after having a bad day,
Her sweet voice tells me it will be okay,
Helping me when I need it most,
But expect nothing.
Yet aware of all.
Sassy and stubborn,
Pushing us away to let her swim alone,
Ignoring the fact that she can’t swim without a floatie.
Twerking to her favorite songs,
Which she learned from me,
Asking for songs,
Only her and I know the code name of,
Daddy Gun-da, Elsa Moosic, and Bus Wheels.
I will allow nature’s magnet to pull us closer each day,
And to allow me to shape her world
in a similar way of which she has shaped my own.