guest.

“how are you feeling?”

ruminate about the question. blink, and within milliseconds, fireworks explode inside of your heart when it registers to you. ribbons fly behind your eyelids. an unexpected giggle escapes from your mouth. if only they knew what it was like to conquer the fear of living. “pretty good, actually, for once in my life.” give a modest smile back. you don’t think they believe you. 

“what did it take?”

“a couple slaps in the face. i was living in the sky. someone kicked me til i came back.”

“do you still want to die?”

die. you imagine a withering flower. you feel the heaviness of the word in your throat, but it blankets you like fog and disperses. death is a nebulous place that does not seem to fit you anymore. it used to be a mansion you wanted to reside in. death seems so far away now though. the line between ‘life’ and ‘death’, which used to be more or less the same thing in your eyes, has grown so far apart. death seems like perfect closure, but it isn’t time for that yet. you haven’t done what you were meant to do in this place yet. you trace a finger around the rim of your wine glass. it produces a beautiful hum, and you feel your soul murmur contently in response.

you remember the same question being asked to you two years ago. you remember you sitting in the same chair, with your shadow boiling angrily on the ground, trying to rise and take over. you defeatedly slumped your shoulders, fidgeted with your hands, looked down at the ground in search for an answer that wasn’t so sad. the bangs of your long black hair shield your eyes, creating deep shadows against your hollow face. the answer was somewhere in you, but it left you, escaped you, in the form of an exhale. you look back at your hands, they were supposed to be so strong. they build things. they pick things up. push you out into the world. you stare at them angrily because they were trembling. like the first waves of an earthquake, your trembling hands became your trembling body. your flesh, parts of the essence of you, fall off the cliffs of your slender shoulders like rocks and your shadow emerges more and more and more and the light of your eyes is less, less, less, falling deeper into the abyss of darkness.

your eyes were shaking, too, tiny lagoons had formed on your face. you had weeped, and squeaked out a, “i’m so scared.”

“why?”

“i have no control of myself anymore. yes, i want to die, i want to die, i want to die, because life means nothing to me. life. death. they are the same things. i am already dead, but my minds still here. i just want it all to be gone.”

you tried to reason with yourself to them. you moved your stiff arms up and down like the eternal image of the scales. you were weighing helplessness in one hand, and solace in the other. but within seconds the arms fell down, balance collapsed, and you faced down once again, the opposite direction of the sky. 

presently, you realize that a ray of sunshine sits on your arm like a bird perched on a branch. your mind fast forwards to present again. you blink. that was two years ago. you laugh again, laugh at how silly it is, how easy it now, to bend from the past to the present, to happy.

“hello? are you still thinking? here…i said, do you still want to die?”

there was sun on your flesh. exposed to the light were your invisible scars. you stare at them long and hard, and your freckles, like dark black holes, are ones that your own tiny soldiers shoveled up to the brim with your flesh. you are repaired. the leaks have been fixed by your own strong will.

instinctually, you put your hand over your heart. never have you felt your heart beating so loudly. it reverberates through your eyes, out of your ears. you can feel the waves of your heart beat traveling far, too, moving mountains, shaping hillsides, touching family and loved ones, building communities. you look down again at your hands. the two parts of your body that have helped you extend your soul to the world. you realize that your once trembling hands have become strong empowered fists, sanguine with passion and progression. your shadow is still there under you, bubbling on the ground. it’ll always be there. it was a stranger before, a bottomless black lagoon. after years of delving deep, it cannot penetrate you anymore.

you respond plainly. “no.

no.

no.” 

you laugh at the idea of even considering ending your life. of course not. you are too powerful.

“no.”

fresh chamomile blooms out of your eyes.

“no, i don’t want to die anymore.”

 
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stronger.

I used to throw my haters some shade but over time they collected it, tiny little morsels of respite from the light of my brilliance. Climbing day over day like scaling sheer cliffs, gleaning what little darkness my glance askance could afford them, and now after mountains of time my haters wander the desert free of thirst, free of fear. They buy gold jewelry with the money they save on suntan lotion and stretch their arms out from beneath their canopy, wrists glinting and jingling as they dance. They crouch beneath trees to amplify the shade and take naps in daytime. I squint at them through the blinding light. I’d give them dirty looks but they’d only develop an immunity to dangerous bacteria because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

until it’s gone.

Laying on a dock with
our hands above our heads.
Wrapped together like
paper covering paper
covering rock.

Two hearts and
four lungs keeping time.
All of the love
pumping through
our necks.
We might not be
here again. Again.

We’ve been too
angry. Too
composed. Too
worried. Too
responsible.
We’ll be calm from
now on.
Until it’s gone.
Until we can’t be.
Until we won’t be.
But that won’t come
for a while.
Maybe even a while
longer.

Do you hear the
herons around the
bend of the lake?

i am…

i am goosebumps
no blanket to keep warm

i am lone consciousness
no souls to bear my burden

i am blindness
no eyes to witness suffering

i am guilt
no weight to my observation

i am fear
no laughter to keep balance

i am dark
no sun to light my way

i am anger
no numbing to dull pain

i am even
no bumps to jar my attempts

i am trying
no goals at which to fail

i am sometimes
no extremes to pigeonhole me

i am clouds
light and dark in turn

i am air
necessary and unknown

i am me
a thousand different ways.

what i wish.

What I really wish more than anything, as ridiculously cliché as it sounds, is that everyone around me could be happy. Especially with certain individuals, I have realized that seeing someone I care so much about to be unhappy, or lonely, or hopeless – it makes me unhappy. I read somewhere once that caring about someone is having your happiness be dependent upon theirs. I find so much truth in this quote, especially regarding things happening in my life recently. I wish that others could see how beautiful life can be. The other day, when my heart was breaking, it was difficult for me to appreciate the way my life is at the moment. The day after, however, I realized how foolish it was to have thought that. Even with a broken heart, it is clear to me that the world, that life, is amazing. (sent in by Alyssa Ioannou)

two halves.

despite the aggrandized visions
i had when i was young
love doesn’t fix everything
just because i am loved
and i love in return
it doesn’t mean life is bliss
i’m not cured of my
insecurities
fear
and history
i still hate my body
i still question my worth
i still have breakdowns
he loves me
so obviously there’s something admirable here
something only he can see
the thing about being loved is
that he tells me i’m beautiful
and curvy
and how my body feels right
under his hands
and when i’m curled up beside him
he tells me i’m artistic
intelligent
incredible
and resilient
he tells me it’ll all be okay
when i break down
when i cry
and when i withdraw into myself
sometimes i roll my eyes
sometimes i try to believe
love is just love
love doesn’t fix everything
but as it turns out
it’s a process
that slowly pounds the dents out
there will always be residual damage
from life beating the hell out of me
but slowly it will churn out a new being
a being that is not a sole person
but two halves that
together are perfect in each other
-Kristie Forzese, Utah