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 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 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 Hiruni Kumari
One is the loneliest number,
Jealous of other people,
And wishing to have others to talk to.
Two is the loneliest number,
Either fighting or being hurt,
Or purposely ignoring each other.
Three is the loneliest number,
Being the third and last wheel,
One wishes to be three,
A group of friends laughing together.
Two wishes to be one,
Satisfied and independent.
Three wishes to be two,
Without the forgotten annoyance.
Art by Hiruni Kumari
I’ve been knocked off my feet by the hideous deception of the self. I told the Idiot I was ignorant enough for eternal bliss and salvation, I told the insufferable Prostitute I heard the rhythmic banging of metal against ancient bones from the city graveyard, I told the Tearful Mime pity was the only remedy to unbearable loneliness, I told the Unfashionable Alter Ego I had once been free and that I had been taken away by bitter numbness, I told the laughable Artist creation would fulfill my reckless hunger, I told the Criminally Insane my spectre would forever haunt the decaying heart of an unfeeling bitch.
I will never be fit for death; my devotion to minor atrocities will send me to hell. There is much to fear--all angels appear as grossly indecent demons in my frequent nightmares. I shall plunge my sword of lies deep into the quivering bowels of Beauty, Strength, and Morality.
I built an entire kingdom--decorated with solid gold more glorious than an Inca city, with rivers flowing with the rotten blood of unwanted men and guarded by the sins of my abandoned past. There, engulfed by the blue and indigo streaked sky, were golden birds with eyes redder than the drunken men on October streets. I had created countless gods with empty promises, and they have given my people miraculous gifts of despair and indecency. I was gluttonous for pain and heartbreaks, I prayed for heavy floods in hope of cleansing my sin of blatant mediocrity. I wished to become the conductor of a freak show, the cynical prison guard of an all women’s jail, the pagan that was burned to death on a stake by inquisitors. In conclusion, I no longer wanted to be trapped in this frail body of an inferior being with a broad skull and ridiculous limbs, destined to be looked down upon.
The burn of exotic alcohol flowing down my esophagus was not enough to chase away the coward in me. I found other ways to expel him:
Visions of balloon factories rising from the horizon on a humid summer night,
Birds with human eyes stare at me from my ceiling in the darkness,
Horse-pulled chariots running me over during battle leave hideous scars on my skin.
Hallucinations have given me false hope and endless inspirations.
This is good enough to make my intestines implode and to make my bed swallow me whole!
I began to fabricate night and day. I said let there be light and there was nothing but hellish darkness. I created my own dystopia where I was finally able to rest my bones. There I wrote idiotic verses and showed off my deformities, I studied alchemy of the word with hateful Gauls and brewed potions stronger than the lust of mortal lovers.
I went on a journey through Berlioz’s symphony: there I heard the whimpers of impassive cellos, saw my march to the scaffold—beheaded for love as the drums cheered me on and waited for the final BANG, as my head rolled off the guillotine. My executioners labored, covered in sweat, for my long-awaited release. Evil crowds rejoiced in a shower of personal heroism and my stale blood.
Then I descended into hell where there was at least some hope. I was finally allowed to suffer. In a mocking voice, she sings; my beloved transforms into an indifferent witch and frantically shuffles her crooked feet during the sabbath, which leaves a trail of charred flesh around my throne. Heavy footsteps and the mystic sound of organs drive me insane as I watch my eventual rebirth as a hyena.
And in that way, I fulfilled my prophecy.
Art by Hiruni Kumari
Aloof and alone as always
Bored before being backstabbed
Confusion clouds my consciousness
Dreary, dead, and deranged days
Emotionless efforts, empty eyes
Fake friends, frolicking frauds
Glares, grudges, grimaces, gloom
Hung high with hemp rope
Infectious insanity isolates
Justified, jealous judgment
Knowledge keeps kings kings
Lost love lingers, limiting life
Messy, moody, missing motivation
Negligent nonsense, nervous nightmares
Overwhelming ostracization, offending opinions
Pointless, pathetic, painful parades
Quiet, questioning quarrels
Raw rage, resulting regret
Sadistically smiling shadows surround
Tumbling through tragedy, truth tortures
Uncertainty undermines understanding
Vain visions, violent vengeance
Worry weighs, whispers wound
Xenophobia, xlnt Xanax
Yearning yields yelling
Zero zeal, zilch
Ring-a-round the rosie
Pocket full of posies,
We all fall down!
Little wide eyes,
Faint rays of the sun,
Bursting with joy.
Then we stopped.
Something in the forest.
Jenna’s mouth is wide open.
Emma is shivering.
Joshie is bleary eyed.
Five heaps of shivering bundles,
A frigid chill hanging over me.
Finally, Annie speaks.
“We’re going in.”
Collection of gasps.
We’re staring at Annie.
Finally, she started to shuffle towards the forest.
Finally, we’re wading.
Big, steady steps in the snow.
pour that sweet cup.
we all sit down
just stare out that window
hearing the stairs creaking,
the wind blowing,
hearing the cat purr,
the kettle whistle.
all the sounds of home
they float with the clouds
far, far away until no one
and nothing can be seen
until all that is left
is the little light
the light that is you
shining in the sky.
around you go,
between the planets,
around the moon,
everywhere and nowhere,
until you come right back;
back to where it started,
back with the sounds,
all the sounds of home.
*NOTE: This piece was previously submitted as an essay for Euro Lit class. Many thanks to the editors, Veronika Kowalski, Bernard Wang, and Mr. Grossman, who contributed to this work and made it as polished as it is. This essay is based off of the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, so if things feel out of context, that's why.
Il neigeait doucement, mais j'étais entre ses bras. Slow, rhythmic dove-white splotches scattered the bitter wintery sky. My heart was fluttering, a deep murmur of the soul. His arms, slipped around my shoulders, enveloping, and emanating warmth. Through a dreamy haze, deep empathetic sea-blue eyes stared back at me, his electric blond hair slightly ruffled, his smooth, porcelain skin slightly paler in the frosted air. His cheeks also had small blotches, rosy red, a faint brush of colour against an empty canvas. I could even hear small bits of his dialogue. His voice, a velvet-coated croon, soft and slippery, could slide smoothly against my ears. He would talk about art—yes, art was certainly romantic—he would be rambling on about The Birth of Venus painted by the masterful Botticelli. “Cette peinture est très romantique!” he would proclaimed, expressing his burning passion for the piece, and he would stare up at the wintery gray sky with his eyes flung wide-open, the sea-blue eyes: smooth, sunken, curious orbs.
And then he yawned. My dreamy eyes fluttered in a flattered surprise. His pink-red lips parted and slowly revealed his cheese-colored teeth. As he was lightly salivating and letting out the cry of a fallen mule, I was falling in love. But suddenly, the blinds started shuddering, a slight rattle against the window. A light gust gently blew through the pages of my copy of L’Amour Sous La Neige. Every chapter always contained a poetic phrase about the charm of his voice and the sensitivity of his soul.
Books. Sometimes, I would be tearing through one, enveloped in the black-and-white words, and I would turn the page—albeit lost in a foreign world—and my mouth would form a small ‘o’ in surprise. One time especially, I was walking through lands you imagine you can see. I merged with the character; my heart beating so hard within the clothes he was wearing. I was weeping in the streets of Yonville, my heart torn in the tragic storm of the words into a thousand-and-one pieces, my tears tiny droplets on my peasant garbs, when all of sudden, a disregarding arm yanked me by the back of my shirt, and then my eyes were greeted by the four blank walls of my monotonous bedroom. I sulked for a brief period of time, staring out through the window, gazing at the starless urban sky. I slowly placed my foot against the cool, wooden floor and slipped into bed. Eventually I dozed off, consumed by the warmth of the silky white sheets. Today, however, was different. After reading L’Amour Sous La Neige, I rolled around in my bed, thinking about him. I forced my eyes shut, trying to force sleep to slowly slip across my mind, but to no avail. I always had wanted to be in love with someone like him. I had always believed that love came suddenly, with loud thunder claps and bolts of lightning. Maybe, one day.
I felt the tepid warmth of the morning sun against my eyelids, and slowly, I opened my eyes. Through my window, broken rays of sunlight, filtered by my blinds, trickled into my bedroom from the December sun. I slowly climbed out of my bed, and slipped on a wool cardigan, my favorite skinny jeans, and my pink knit scarf. Soon enough, I was out the door, headed for the town square.
In Willow, a small suburban nook in the evergreen forests of New Hampshire, the town square was definitely the place to go if one wanted to hang out with their friends. In a sleepy, boring town like Willow, where you can find worst seafood of the Northeast, where even old Bertha’s art, the town ‘aspiring artist’ is without expressive emphasis--the town square has all the posh boutiques, the town bank, Willow High School, town hall, and all other essential facilities. Snow scattered the sky as they fell atop houses, lawns, and great taiga trees in the forest surrounding the town. Somehow, the scene from L’Amour Sous La Neige bestowed me an unfamiliar appreciation for the typical lackluster snow of Willow—as if the monotony of the town had somehow contributed to that. I marched through the snow in my leather boots and eventually reached the square.
My boots sank softly into the freshly fallen snow, crisp soft plop-plops in a silent winter morning street. After a short walk of 5 minutes, I reached the square, and I immediately let out a small gasp as I stopped in my tracks. The benches looked normal, albeit covered with a crisp velvet layer of snow; the boutiques, closed for the weekend, were normal as well. But standing in the center of the square was a lone figure, painting on a somewhat dingy canvas. That electric blond hair, slightly ruffled and coated with airy fluffs of snow, seemed a bit duller than I had imagined. For a moment, my mouth hung open, until he turned to me. I gasped as I looked at his face—big, ambitious sea-blue eyes stared at me, in confusion—but on further inspection, his eyes were instead a stormy gray. It was him from L’Amour Sous La Neige—except...worse? He walked slowly towards me, and then, arriving about a meter from my foot, he stopped.
“What is your name?” he said, softly, in a half whisper.
“Kara” I said, my voice, also a half whisper.
And the next thing I knew, I was lost in conversation with him. I was babbling on about the wretchedness of earthly affections and the eternal isolation in which the heart remains entombed. To show himself to good advantage, naturally imitating my melancholy, he declared that he had been prodigiously bored throughout his studies. By the end of our conversation, my eyes were tearing up, moved that he had been so bored going to school. Deep inside me, I had an epiphany—I was so bored about my studies too! How romantique!
Hands were shoving me around, I groaned as I opened my eyes, and stared around, and saw my mom manically shoving me to get up. “What are you doing, Mom?” I screamed, frantic, confused as to why I was in my room again.
“You weren’t getting up, honey! I was so scared! Are you okay?” she asked, her eyes lit with concern.
My head heaved in confusion, as I gasped to grip some words to answer my mother. “Yea, mom. I just was really tired.” I said, thinking of the safest reply.
“Okay honey. School starts in 30 minutes, you better start getting ready,” she said, as she walked out the door.
And I looked, an empty gaze staring back from the vanity. My dreams, were certainly only dreams. And then, I laughed. I flung my head back and burst into laughter, horrible, frantic, despairing laughter, no doubt re-experiencing the lost ecstasy of my first mystical yearnings.
 It was snowing softly, but I was in his arms.
 This painting is very romantic!
 The Love Under Snow (Fictitious Novel)
Dream Journal: Origami Boats
Join Veronika in her quirky, elaborate, and cinematic dreams in this recurring series.
I dreamt it was a rainy day and Ms. Saugin was supposed to keep the entire freshman class. We were put into tiny classes, and the walls were all blue. Occasionally, Ms. Saugin had to check in on us. Connor O’Malley was in my classroom. He wanted to leave but Ms. Saugin wouldn’t let him. She would bring us arts and crafts to do, like making origami boats. When she saw I had something she didn’t bring me, she’d ask whether I brought it into school to see if her activities were keeping us busy enough or if she needed to give us something more to do. There were about five people per classroom. I showed my classmates my tiny playing cards that I couldn’t put back in time.