Art by Kim Firoozan
On the horizon of the paper-thin sky, shadow buildings fill the skyline
The sky, almost white, with just enough blue to call it grey
From the window—miniscule, rolling waves, barely perceptible from the brick ledge
A ship slowly wends its way downriver, leaving white, white, white in its wake
The water, almost a mirror-glass, the greys and blues and whites of the winter sky
Closer to the shore, the mirror breaks, rippling with skyscrapers and sea-glass green
The frolicking waves beckon and tease, lurching restlessly under the icy docks
Shimmering with the muted light of the clouded sun
Holding a mirror-world full of mirror-skies and mirror-boats and mirror-cities and mirror-people
A mirror-universe where the lines are so blurred, it’s barely a mirror at all
But clear enough that the city’s outline is unmistakable
Just clear enough
To hold the winter sky
The curfew for 15-year-olds in Greenwich was 8 p.m. That was an hour longer than what Annabel was used to. The driving curriculum wouldn’t be added to her schedule until next year. She saw no point in the extended time frame.
Her peers have already decided to use the free time to pursue their future careers. Ian was on the afternoon junior trip to the Committee of Seniors. He had been talking about getting a spot on the Committee with anyone who would listen. It was a rather tiring way to broadcast himself, but Annabella put up with his antics nonetheless. Propaganda wasn’t the right word for his actions. Annabel liked to call it “campaigning.”
It was part of the required English terms she had to memorize back in January. Though Ben discouraged any use of the word past June, Annabel still secretly used it with Ian. A strange feeling would always accompany her little act of disobedience; a rush, a skipped beat, a giddiness that she found fascinating.
But Ian wasn't here now. He was on the trip.
Annabel has been wandering around the Centre Circle three times. She glanced at the clock perched on the tower.
She had been wandering for 15 minutes.
Annabel contemplated finding Christina. She couldn't loiter in an area for more than 20, or else a bot would swoop down and detain her, and she definitely didn't want to cause unnecessary trouble.
Maybe she should just return home like yesterday. Her mother wouldn't mind extra help for the evening meal.
Annabel activated the GPS in her left ear—she always prefered the left side of her body—and studied the suggested path home on the projected screen in front of her. The translucent blue map highlighted the quickest path home, but Annabel thought otherwise.
I want to go home as late as possible.
Instantly, the image flashed in confirmation, and the green line became a rollercoaster. It definitely looked strange and unnecessary, but Annabel ignored it. She wanted to get home late, and her brain agreed.
Polythemus was especially beautiful at night. Annabella and Ian would always sneak to the Flat Hills when they were still freshmen. They are juniors now, but the starry escapades seemed like they had happened yesterday.
“Anna, can you describe what the sky looks like?”
Anna gave her friend an incredulous look.
“You’re telling me no one has ever shown the sky to you?”
He shrugged his broad shoulders--he had been an early bloomer--and faced her with his sapphire eyes.
“They have, but I’ve never actually seen it.”
“What are you saying? Those eye bots should’ve restored your sight! You even guessed the color of my hair, and I’ve never told you about them.”
His calloused hands brushed over the smooth blue eyeballs.
“But this is different. I can touch my eyes. I can adjust them. And when you try to do the same, you hurt yourself.”
Anna instinctively traced the outline of her green left eyeball. She had to undergo the same procedure Ian did five years ago, except for one eye. The bots weren’t lying when they stated replacement of one eye took more adjustment than two, but Anna and her family unit couldn’t afford two.
Her fingers traveled to the grass between her toes. It had the same texture as her synthetic eye.
“The sky is blue,” she started.
“Like the afternoon one?’
“No…” She struggled to pinpoint the appropriate word in her freshman-year vocabulary.
“It’s a much darker blue. It’s like the dark, but it isn’t scary. The sky just… ”
Anna studied the glittering white balls in wonder. Ian’s eyes picked up on the movement and peered up with her. His eyes could only process a gloomy backdrop - something he stared at for hours during his eye procedure.
“Pulls you in,” she finished. Her eyes traveled back to Ian. “Like you.”
Ian didn’t respond.
“I mean that in a nice way. I know it’s early to choose Friends, but I like talking to you. When I become a Junior, I will make you a Friend of mine. That’s a promise.”
Anna’s ears picked up the family bots finally tracing their location. She clenched tufts of grass in her hands. Walking beyond a 10-feet radius from her parents as a Freshman was an offense. A minor one sure, but bots had been sent after them.
And in the dimness of the nightfall, Anna picked up Ian’s subtle nod before a bot’s beams transported them back to their parents’ sides.
Her heart leapt. The twinkling lights always gave her that feeling again. Even now, even when she wasn’t actually breaking any rules as a Junior.
Annabel couldn’t explain it. Did Ian feel the same after that night? She never got around to ask. It became a forbidden topic to say or even think about. She shouldn’t even be reminiscing such a scandalous act in the first place.
But then again she countered herself. It is near curfew. Seniors start home to the Greenwich community and there won’t be much surveillance from the evening to night bot shifts.
Sure the night bots would most likely catch her in the act, but Annabel had a couple of minutes to spare for a wandering thought or two.
She made a left into the small space between two housing units. It wasn’t according to the map shown to her, but she didn’t want to make the longer walk around the units. A curfew is a curfew. She can be late, but no later than 8 p.m.
Art by Lea Shvarts
a sooted finger graces lucid waters,
a foot too quick plunges past haters
Three quick gasps and thus
He goes fast right under
Silent screams rippled through landlines
slicker and sweeter, as if collected with
mystic morphine and hypnotic heroin
So soon an overdose rings home
Wildflowers in Her Hair
Art By Emily Chen
She was a dancer, performing on stages big and small
Her arms poised and legs quick
She practiced day and night
Feet moving back and forth on the edge
One day she falls
She crawls out with the new spring
Inching far, far away
A field she passes through
Sweet breezes brushing along
Blanketed in a lush green
Flowers sprouting here and there
Tiny, yet extravagant
She idles around
A sigh of relief she lets go at last
Time doesn’t stop for her
When she blinks
Her mind is anew
She returns to the stage
Eyes no lighter than the tropical sea
Moving with grace, passion, delight
And wildflowers entwined amongst her hair
Art by Hiruni Kumari
imagine standing in a motionless line
heartbeat held fast in standstill.
force a smile, clench your jaw, say you're feeling fine.
tell yourself don’t worry, this is a customary drill.
you’re used to it, but your stomach is churning.
their eyes roam down until they meet yours
but inside your mind a fire is burning,
well wishing to fall deep through the floors.
praying pretty please with fingers crossed
you think of all the times you stood for hours
and all the games you had effortlessly lost.
imagine being told you are supposed to smell flowers,
“be more feminine,”
“girls aren’t supposed to speak up, girls don't fight back”
thinking of all the oppressed people hiding behind things you had read.
staring at blue light filtered screens, tears that made your body wrack.
feeling for someone you had never even met.
they had put your emotions into words that you could never express.
yet these feelings were old, too many copies faded vignette.
“maybe you should wear that pretty gingham dress”
maybe that’s why my eyes are glued to the floor whenever I walk into a room.
treading lightly, careful to leave precious things as they are.
maybe that’s why I now smell each rising flower as it blooms.
i’m just an ugly reflection of society, nothing special—an old memoir.
Art by Lea Shvarts
She blew the piece of grass in her fingers, the textured tip swaying unsightly in her fingers.
“What do you think we will be after school?”
He furrows his brows.
“After high school or college?” They were only seniors in high school. They hadn’t even set foot into adulthood yet.
“Both—I mean when we’re real adults.”
“Are college students not real adults?”
She throws the strand of grass away and turns away from him.
“You know what I mean.” He does and thinks for a while. Her brown irises were back and peering over him with a curiosity he couldn’t figure out. It was unsettling but he found his words.
“Maybe a manager in some company, probably an office worker. You?”
She takes a breath. She must’ve been contemplating it before asking him.
“A chemist or a geneticist but I want to have some free time for my hobbies. Nothing time consuming, that's all. More time for writing would be nice, but I am interested in the science field.”
He doesn’t pry and listens to her science rant. He didn’t need to confuse her further.
Art by Lea Shvarts
Little Cassie spends hours at a time talking to herself. At least, that’s what she seems to be doing. She locks herself in her room and then I hear faint voices. They sound dynamic, as if she were talking to someone. But that’s impossible. Cassie’s only five. She has no phone, and there’s no way to get to her room without walking through the front door. However, I’ve never seen her so much as even mutter a single word to herself; I find it hard to believe she is truly talking to herself.
As her older sister, I was naturally curious. But there is no way to get into her locked room, without disrupting her possibly satanic ritual. So, being the delightfully innovative girl with a highly capable smartphone that I am, I decided to plant a “bug”. I slipped my phone into her room propped up with a pillow with what I thought to be the best angle and pressed record.
Sure enough, that afternoon, as soon as Cassie came home from her dance class, she walked into her room and locked the door with a sharp click. She spoke for about an hour, was silent for about another hour, then, finally, came out for dinner at 6:30. As she plodded down the stairs, I quietly ducked into her room and grabbed my ingenious spy tool.
After Cassie’s bedtime, I played the video. Cassie spoke while facing her mirror. Was she as narcissistic as some of my “friends” who spent hours on just their eye shadow? But, something was off. The reflection didn’t move its lips. How could Cassie make so much noise with the slightest twitch of her mouth. And then, as soon as Cassie’s voice stopped, perhaps just to take a breath, it did move. Her reflection responded. I don’t know if my phone just wasn’t quite good enough to pick up the audio, or if it was truly silent, but the reflection’s mouth moved.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder, Cassie reached her arm out toward the mirror, and the reflection reached back. It grabbed her hand, and with a sharp yank, pulled her into the swirling iridescent mirror.
What the hell?
Is Cassie traveling to Narnia every day?
Next time, I’ll try to go with her.
Art by Hiruni Kumari
He didn’t fit
The wrong piece of a puzzle
Eyes were molten unlike the others
Heart aflame unlike the others
He cared too much and hated too little
He should be far away
Maybe in a nice town with nicer people
A warm house and family
Better than these smoky eyes
Better than this burning stench
Better than bloodstained fingers
Art by Lea Shvarts
Eat humble pie.
What if i told you i didn't want to?
What if i told you you didn't have a choice?
You can’t make me do anything I don't want to.
Besides, I don’t even like pie.
I said you don’t have an option. I’ll force you.
I’m telling you now. You’re going to regret it.
You’re going to regret it.
This is it.
Needless to say, I’ve regretted it ever since.
Show Me Nothing
I Know That I Am Not Waterproof.
That I Can Acknowledge.
Laisser La Pluie Tomber.
Et Laissez Le Rossignol Chanter.*
*Let the rain fall./ And let the nightingale sing.