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
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 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.
How to be Sad
First, attempt to be “unsad”. Imagine yourself being joyful and gleeful, imagine yourself as angry and explosive, imagine yourself as content and blissful, but realize this doesn’t work. Fail so hard, like you’ve never failed before. Sadness, you come to understand, is mind-numbing, back-breaking, pain-inducing, and you just savor it. You’re a cat enjoying its tasty, warm milk. You just can’t do anything else, you love your milk, stubborn as a rock. You realize it’s best to be insecure, scared, and timid. This is necessary torture, so you can proceed in being sad.
Next, feel the tears accumulate as you think about everything that went wrong today. Struggle to keep the tears from falling out where they can see. If they see, it’ll confirm your biggest fears, they’ll know you lacrimate, they’ll stare at you like an elephant in the zoo. Think that they’re right for demeaning you. Realize you can’t keep it in, there’s too much pressure accumulating under your poor, sensitive, hurting eyelids.
Push your chair over as you get up from the table as fast as the last time you sped down the stairs at Penn Station, running to catch your 2 train before it left the platform.
Run to the bathroom, it’s the only place that they can’t see. Start to cry, just as soon as you close the bathroom door. Turn the exhaust fan and the shower and the sink on all at the same time. Try to mask the pain of the tears streaming down your face and the lump in your throat with all the noise around you. Sit on the toilet and make seal sounds, gasping for air. Hoping that your lungs would shut off, that you get away from this madness. Hoping that they don’t knock on the door. Hoping that you would disappear. Hoping.
You hear the thump, thump against the door. They know, you think. They know that you aren’t okay, that there’s something wrong with you, that you need help. You hear them say: “Are you okay? Do you need help?”. Through the noise you tune them out. You love this sadness, you feed off of it. You continue to cry and think about the implications of opening the door.
What will they say to you? These are questions to ask yourself: Will they laugh? Will they make you see a therapist, with a pedophillic smile and machine-gun cackle? Will they call your friends? Will they ask why you’ve been acting off recently? You know you can’t change: the questions, and the crying, and the noise, and the pain, it’s who you are. From birth, it’s what you’ve been. With a sad brain that’s been cemented with sad concrete. There’s no going back.
You feel like a failure. You haven’t put every piece of paper in your house in its proper spot and you haven’t made your teeth impeccable. You understand these despondent thoughts are necessary to have perpetual sadness. You remember that it is your goal to feel this way. You may want to die. You may wonder if you can jump in front of your 2 train tomorrow. But you know, if you do so, you can’t feel sad. You, apparently, can’t feel sad when you’re dead.
Shut off the exhaust fan and the shower and the sink. Wipe your eyes. Open the door. Remember that you love to be sad.
I do not understand why numbers dictate our lives. 100's and 90's and 80's and what did you gets and how did you dos. I do not get why titles personify us or why digits defines who we are. Don’t tell me that you don’t get that sense of exhilaration when you smile, cock your head and say “I got a 95, what ‘bout you?” Because you tried so hard to get that grade. You went to the AIS tutoring session, you went to an ARISTA peer-tutoring session, and you studied the material a week in advance. But in the end of the day it’s just a number. Your report card is just a number. Your college application is filled with numbers. Your. Life. Is. Filled. With. Numbers. And why, what for? To get into Harvard, to get into Columbia, to get into Yale, to get into Princeton, to get into what? To get a good job, to get married, have kids, to live the American Dream. But you don’t need numbers for that. You don’t need the titles and the reputation that an Ivy League college brings. And all that stress, all that sleep deprivation and for what? To get a good job? To marry right? To have kids? But that person to your right... He’ll marry, he’ll have kids, and he will eventually die. That person to your left... She’ll also marry, she’ll also have kids, and then she’ll also die. So why are you letting that 65 define who you are if everyone in life ends up exactly in the same place? What are your afraid of? Ending up as a late-night shift Walmart worker? Do you see that 65 as an omen that you’ll be a McDonald's employee some point in your future? It isn't. Numbers don’t foretell what you are in life. A math test or an SAT score doesn't determine your goddamn salary number.
A Cold Friendship
It never snows in California, and that’s why I was very excited about this winter. My family had just moved to New York from California because they got new jobs. I was a little too excited about the fluffy, cold, and whit-- nevermind, they are not white.
My high expectations were met with well, not-so-high reality. The snow was muddy brown in the worst possible way and I was really upset. Like really, really upset. I asked Siri why the snow in New York City are not white. Of course Siri was being dumb and only gave me results on the web for why is the snow brown in New York City. I asked my mom too and she told me that when it first snows, they are white but as the day passes on, people step on them and they melt so it changes color. I went up to my bedroom and set the alarm clock for five, cause that’s the time this dude on the weather channel said it will start snowing.
The next morning I woke up before my alarm clock did. The weatherman had lied, it had started snowing a long time ago. I wasn’t upset though because the snow is still crisp white on the ground. I throw on my jackets and went outside. My dad told me that kids normally build snowmen with snow so that’s exactly what I did. After a good hour, I was finally done. I named the snowman Dylan.
Everyday, Dylan and I would talk about different things and he became my first and only friend in New York. We go on adventures to fight the invading pigeons and creepy neighbor next door. However, nothing last forever. The dark ages soon came and I had one last playdate with Dylan before the dark ages arrive. By dark ages, I meant spring. When I woke up on the first day of the dark ages, I opened my window and saw a puddle in the front yard. They took Dylan from me.
How did I know this? Dylan told me it happens every year. But he said he will visit next year and we can continue our adventures. That never happened. My family and I moved back to California because they got new jobs again. I really miss Dylan, I talk to my friends about him all the time. They got really jealous that they don’t have such a “cool” friend.
12 years later, I got accepted into Columbia, packed up my bags and got onto a plane flying straight for New York. The owner of the house I use to live in is renting it and was kind enough to give me the offer. I walked into the front yard and saw a pile of snow. Immediately, I dropped everything and knelt down in the snow. After some playing around with the snow, I see Dylan, he’s back. We immediately began to talk about what happened to each other for the last 12 years. It’s as if I never left.