Natalie Chyi

"Lost Memories" is one of the January Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.
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Photo by Natalie Chyi

Roaring city streets turned to lush quiet as the girl with the platinum hair entered the small garden area.

Seconds later the boy with raven hair came from the entrance.

At first neither said a word, neither noticing the second presence in the petite space. Neither knew of this place previously, only noting the way it’s front wall dipped in slightly, leaving room for curious minds to wonder what could lie within.

Yet still something pulled them in, an unknown force sending them to that very garden, timing almost in sync.

Slowly, painfully slow, each turned, for the first time acknowledging the other’s presence. They stared for what felt like hours, suspicious, confused, careful. Something so familiar as they gazed, but they’d never met, not that they could remember. It must have looked strange, the way they stared. Perhaps if someone were to stumble upon them they would think it strange to see these two contrasting people watching each other with both fascination and suspicion. Minds each running, racing, hurtling a mile a minute, so fast one could almost see the gears turning.

Yet neither spoke a word, breathing even and steady, and as he watched, he began willing this memory, story, something to explain why the girl in front of him was so familiar yet so unknown.

Then suddenly, a flash. Platinum blonde hair, shared giggles, tiny toddler hands clasping onto each other. He blinked, taken back, the images gone and faded. Leaving more questions than answers.

Her eyes flashed, pieces of memory danced behind her lids, something darker. Sunlight in a floral space, laughter, then. Tiny hands desperately reaching out, innocent eyes, sad and pleading. And a promise to find their way back.

But still silence remained, letting those images thicken the air around them. Questions filling the space.

What had they seen?

What could it mean?

Why could they only remember now?

Instead of seeking out the answers to each unspoken question, they made the choice to run.  Why try to find a story long since locked away?

This time in a manner not as slow, they turned, facing away, prepared to go their separate ways. As the first steps were taken, she turned, mouth dry but open to call out to the boy.

But something stopped her, and she closed her mouth again, turning away once more.

“Goodbye,” she whispered, an action against her own mind, some force driving her as she loses him again, but this unknown to her.

And so each walked away with the question of what they were missing lingering in their minds. Strangers with a history left only for those garden flowers to know.

 

 

Alicia Arellano
15
USA

"Between These Two Walls" is one of the January Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.
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Photo by Natalie Chyi

I never liked goodbyes. Heck, who does, really? Although, this one is different. It’s different because it’s her.
She was my first everything. My first friend, first kiss, first love, and now also first heartbreak. I should have known better, though; she isn’t the kind of girl you are supposed to fall in love with. She is more the type that you know you should avoid at all costs, because you are destined to lose her, and when you do, it’s like embracing your worst nightmare.

The first time we met, there was a playground between the yellow and the green wall surrounding the backyard, where we 15 years later see each other for the last time. It had been a small, modest playground, the kind no kids really nag their parents about to go visit. Nonetheless, the rotting sandpit and the melancholy slide next to a crumbling swing set was enough for me, because five-year-old me had found a place where he could play without being interrupted or questioned. That was until her family moved into the apartment above ours, and she spent a solid month’s worth of days observing me from her window in a not-so-discreet way. I was beyond annoyed with her, until one day, when she brought down a piece of chalk and taught me how to play hopscotch since I had “looked bored” going up and down the decaying slide. Then, we drew terrible chalk portraits of each other on the green wall in a poor attempt of perpetuating our newfound friendship, and giggled when our parents scolded us about it.

My first kiss was quite spectacular, I have to admit, but not as a result of me being particularly good at kissing, nor because it was very romantic or anything. It was special because it was with her. Also, it happened between these two walls, just as every other decent story of me growing up. The sandpit, along with the rest of my childhood, was long gone, replaced with nothing but cold, impersonal concrete. The different coloured walls, however, were preserved and had become an endless source of inspiration to me. Perhaps it was that the green went so well with the nuance of her eyes, or maybe it was her trademark blonde hair that fascinated me when we were sixteen years old and played around with the camera I had gotten for my birthday that year. While I was determined to take artsy, sharp shots to do her features justice, she enjoyed the spontaneous outbursts of laughter — resulting in me not being able to flaunt my creative techniques. Our photo sessions usually ended with us sitting with our backs against the green wall, me presenting my favourites from the day’s shoot. One day I had taken a surprisingly large collection of pictures I was content with, all in focus and well-adjusted, something she wasn’t too fond of.

“Here, let me,” she had said while yanking the camera from my hands. Then, without any warning, she angled the camera to make the lens face us, and used her free hand to grab my chin. Before I had had the chance to process what was happening, she had pulled my face towards hers and connected our lips. To this day, that’s my favourite photograph taken with that camera, or any camera for that matter, which she knows bothers me senseless. The picture is out of focus, badly lit, and everything I strived to avoid. On the other hand, my lips tingle just by looking at it, since it depicts my favourite person closer to me than she had ever been before. She didn’t know that I had never wanted anything more than I wanted for that sweet moment to last forever, until now, when all I really want is for her to stay.

The thing about her, however, is that she doesn’t stay in the same place for too long, which I learned the very same day I realized that I loved her. It was a year and six days after our innocent, but oh so marvelous, kiss, and she was sitting next to me on one of the benches against the yellow wall, right beside a flowerbox. We had come home from a friend’s house party, but she didn’t want to go inside just yet to avoid being caught drinking by her parents. The night was silent, and if it hadn’t been for the bright full moon illuminating the backyard, no one could have told that we were sitting there, waiting for the scent of alcohol to wear off. What happened next was extraordinary solely because of how unextraordinary it was. She fell asleep. Heavy head on scrawny shoulder, soft hands cupped by freezing palms and drowsy breaths in sync with my shivering ones. The moment was so pure, so honest. It was just me, her, and the stars above, and everything made perfect sense. She trusted me wholeheartedly, to the point where she felt safe enough to let me watch her sleep, and that was all it took for me to whisper “I love you” and mean it that night. Only minutes later, though, her phone went off, breaking the spell. She jerked awake, and the second she answered the call she was back to being someone else’s girlfriend and I was back to being miserable.

Now we’re both 20 years old, and she’s leaving. I am heartbroken, tormented by the excruciating thought of once and for all watching her go. When she finally turns her back on me, the ironically colourful walls laugh at me as I’m devoured by my worst nightmare. These walls used to comfort me because they reminded me of her, but now they torture me, because just as the apartments hidden behind them had been my first home, she was too. She was my first everything. My first friend, first kiss, first love, first heartbreak. She was my first home, and now she’s gone.

 

 

Julia Pigg
18
Sweden

girl sitting room window haze plant
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

I.
I am a paper doll turned into confetti and ashes.
What I’m trying to say is: there are parts of me that have been swept beneath the kitchen stove.

II.
You have thorns for hands and never learned how to love gently.
What I’m trying to say is: I smell of flower petals and blood and burning.

III.
There is a ghost of you living inside my burning body.
What I’m trying to say is: the smell of smoke still keeps me awake.

IV.
You are the monster in my closet that I stopped believing in when I was seven.
What I’m trying to say is: I still sleep with the doors locked. I still sleep with the lights on.

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsey HobartLindsey Hobart is a seventeen-year-old writer, guitar player, try-to-be singer, and bunny enthusiast from a New York town that’s as quiet as her voice. Her work can be found at heartofthebitter-mindofapoet.tumblr.com.

 

 

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.

window waiting girl standing
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

Warmth      escapes like sunshine reflecting off
a jarred window.
Days feel cold and pages lie still, unmoved by the constant
whirring of the fan.

My hands quiver in fear when I come to think of
how you have so easily become like the things you surround
yourself with.

The word I am most afraid to     say about you
now slips from my tongue as helplessly as
sand from a holed-out, rusting vessel.

 

 

 

 

TrivarnaTrivarna Hariharan is an author whose work appears in various literary magazines, zines and journals such as Textploit, Writers Asylum, Literature Studio, TheOriginalVanGoghsEarAnthology, A Penny for a Thought, Orange Almonds, The Bougainvillea Lit Road Magazine, and elsewhere. She serves as the editor-in-chief at Inklette and is the Head Officer for Journalism at Redefy. Her first poetry collection, Home and Other Places, is being published by Nivasini Publishers and is slated for a 2016 release. She believes strongly in the power of art to bring about a change.

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.

Welcome, Germies, to this month’s writing challenge! This challenge will begin today and will end January 31st. However, you are welcome to come back anytime to complete the challenge and submit it below in the comments section. We will pick a few of our favorites that are submitted during this month, though, and they will be featured in our Lit section.

 

Writing Challenge:
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Photo by Natalie Chyi

— Write a short story based off of this picture by Natalie Chyi. There is no limit to how short it can be, but it can be no longer than 1,000 words.

• Who are the people in the photo? Are they in love, or are they family, friends, enemies, exes, strangers?

• Where are they? Why are they meeting here? Or is it by chance that they both came to this place?

 

Submitting:

Submitting for this challenge is easy. Simply email your story to submit@germmagazine.com. Put “January Writing Challenge” as the subject of your email, and include your name, age, and country in the body of your message. If you have any questions at all, or if you’re having problems submitting, feel free to email me at brianabailey@germmagazine.com.

Everyone who completes the challenge will be responded to and informed as to whether or not their piece has been chosen to be featured. Since the deadline for this challenge is January 31st, do not expect an email from us until the beginning of February.

To prevent the possibility of our emails ending up in your spam folder, be sure to add submit@germmagazine.com to your contacts list.

depressed emotions sad girl hands in head
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

She fought for breath from the red hands.

Their grip bound to her neck

Her chest anchored

Her heart flooded with fear

Her breathing deeper — synchronizing

Sharing the pulse in those red hands

Black poison pours

Into her mouth — bitter

Clogs in her throat

She prays

Why can’t I breathe

Why is this happening

Just make this end soon

Her head throbbing — clouded

Thoughts block her concentration

She’s numb, silent

She pictures calm, cerulean oceans

Watching the waves unfurl

In and out of shore

Matching her breath,

Flowing smooth

Body frozen, eyes glazed

Sealed — steadying

Her breath, conflicted

She forces the tears

Wanting, embracing them

Drowning in their warmth

Feeling life upon her face

The unfamiliar touch

Pooled, muddy water

Streams of black streaks

Stain her marbled face

Washing away the panic

Steadying her breath — snapped

Out of the moment, released.

She accepted this fate

Reaching for the red hands — dissolved

Into her own — like sand

Sunk in her ocean.

 

 

 

 

Haley JonesHaley Jones is a 23-year-old living in Chattanooga, TN. Along with being a writer, she is also a musician. Like most everyone, she’s just trying to find where her passions fit best in this world. She just started a blog called Hales Jales, where she writes about food, beauty, life experiences, and much more! She lives for singing, writing, fall weather, her two cats, and driving around aimlessly. She believes that life is an adventure, and it’s short, so you should take advantage of the days you have before they slip through your fingers.

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.

emotion sad crying friendship friend comfort
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

The boy died when he was walking home across the estate he’d walked across a hundred times before. It was a blade, a mistake, an older kid on a bike who thought he was someone else, someone who deserved a knife, deserved to lie there for an hour before he was found. The boy died and we pretended we knew him.

We were holding our candles, at the vigil that we all stood at, everyone in our town, as if we’d all known the little face that was staring down from every screaming headline. Thugs, Evil, Youth of Today. The words that were painted over us all now.

Like you’d know, hissed a boy with the reddest eyes I’d ever seen. Bunch of freaking rich kids. My brother stepped in front of me then, and it was the only time during the whole thing that he let me hold his arm as he stared down the other kid who was dragged away by his own brother — his own brother who glared at him until he dragged his sleeve over his eyes. Their heads were covered with hoodies and their eyes were hidden by glares. They glared at me, in my blazer and hat, and my brother let me hold on, for those few moments, when I was allowed to reach him.

You knew him, didn’t you? I said, and my brother shrugged — that blond hair flopping over one eye, that effortless arch of the eyebrow. Kind of,  he said. Just played against him a few times. He pulled his arm away from mine, even as my fingers trailed his sleeve.

I cried and hated that I cried because I hadn’t talked to the boy, even though I wanted to. I wanted to have talked to him because then there would be a reason for the tears that were spilling, hot on my cheeks. I cried but my brother didn’t. He just dropped his flower in and shook me off when I tried to follow him.

I played against him, he said, of a few times when they’d hung out after football, swapping their cards, with those older-boy grins that I could never unravel. It’s no big deal. The other boys kept their heads down, hiding their eyes. They were there to comfort their sisters, their mothers, even when they’d known him best.

I cried and my mother cuddled me and said that was just the way boys were.

My brother pushed my hand away when I tried to hold it. Just stop, he hissed at me once when I burst into his crowd of friends to ask him to tie my laces. Stop hanging around me!

When we were little, he used to let me ride on his shoulders, my face pushed into the back of his blond hair. I used to burrow my head in, pretend I could hide inside his shirt. But these days, he was busy, busy being a boy, and it didn’t seem to matter that I wanted to be there with him.

I thought a lot about the boy who had died; I badgered my brother about him, wanting to know what he’d said, the way he’d shuffled his cards, the way he’d laughed when my brother scored against him.

He gave me his hand once, he said a year or so after the boy died, when the trial was all over the news and he was tired of my questions. He helped me up, he said, even though we were against each other.

I stared at him because my brother never spoke like this nowadays, never told me these little pieces of himself the way he had when we were little, and he shrugged and snapped at me when I asked if he missed the boy. Some kid in his school cried all the time about him, he said, and one day they got hold of him and kicked him in the ribs until he stopped.

There were boys all over the news now, their sullen faces staring out from hoods, and my mother shook her head each time they appeared, hands gripping the stainless steel kitchen top. Terrible, she said, her eyes on the TV, the TV carefully fitted into our custom-built kitchen. It’s the parents I wonder about. Then again, in that area

She never finished the sentence. I stared up at the screen and wondered if any of those boys had ever once been like the boy who was dead, had ever once been like my brother.

None of them had fathers; that was one thing they all said, over and over. None of them had fathers, and they’d all ended up there that night, and one of them had been holding a knife.

You two don’t have a father, my mother told us, as if we didn’t know, as if we didn’t have a father who just turned up to give out money.  And you’re not like that.

Quite right, my father said when we visited him, after he gave me a new iPod and my brother a wad of money. It’s just an excuse, he said, and I couldn’t remember another time I’d heard my parents agree.

My brother kept his head down, and I waited for him to tell our dad about the boy sticking his hand out, about how the boy who died hadn’t had a stainless steel kitchen and how he hadn’t been like the ones who stood in front of the cameras each day. But he stood there, shuffling the notes between his fingers and said nothing.

The boys screamed at the trial. The girls cried, but the boys were the ones who attacked the vans, who thudded their fists louder than they could ever have sobbed. We’re doing it for them, they said, and they’d point to a sister or a mother or a daughter — always a girl. For him and for them. It’s our job.

When our dad had left, my brother had curled around me in bed that night, his arms around my shoulders. I’m the man now, he’d said, words hot against my neck. I’ll look after you.

It had always been him who looked after me, though. It was him who walked with me to that memorial, and it was him who snapped at me to stop crying.

You didn’t know him, he told me, and I sniffed, because he had and I wanted him to cry too. So that I knew he still could.

It was just after three years of the boy being dead — three years after the trial had been all over our headlines and too-short sentences had been handed out, and the government had stood in front of cameras and told us that this was a  barbaric act, and that people would not go unpunished — that the girl grabbed my shoulder on the way home from school. I’d walked the same way he’d walked, and so it was my fault.

What the hell are you walking this way for, she said, and I struggled, tried to drag my sleeve free. You in your fancy blazer. You’ll never have to worry, will you?

I tried to drag my arm free, but a part of me was weak against her grip because she was right. A part of me thought she was right.

And then he was there, shoving her back, his hands tight on my arms. You ever touch her again, he said, and I’ll kill you. And who do you think everyone will believe?

It was later that he said, She wasn’t right, and I swallowed. She wasn’t, he said, and it was then I saw him wipe at his eyes, and it jolted into my chest, the sure sight of the tears sticking his eyelashes together, and how strange it was that one of the only times I saw those tears was after he’d said the words, the words it felt like everyone from our world wanted us to think.

She doesn’t give a damn about what he would have wanted, he said, and I touched his face. What’s wrong?

Nothing. And he laughed, bitterly. Nothing’s wrong for us. Nothing.

But he was crying — and when he saw me looking, he peeled my arms from around his shoulders and said, Stop trying to be like him, OK? Stop trying to be like him. You didn’t even know him.

But

Just stop crying about him. You didn’t know him. Stop feeling guilty.

You did, I said, and he laughed then, really laughed. Yeah, I did, he said, and it wasn’t until later that I realised I didn’t know which he’d been admitting to.

He’d have been picked up, he said once when it had been over five years and the two of us were tipsy. You know? He’d have been picked up in some fancy car if he was us. But he had to walk home.

I’d opened my mouth, but he’d already had the bottle of champagne we’d stolen from our mother to his mouth, the light filtering through the kitchen, and the words had dissolved under the bubbles and the years we’d had of not crying.

Upstairs, my head ached with the drink and what I’d say to him. I’m sorry. I should have known you. I know I have no right to cry. I’m sorry.

I wish he could cry.

My brother had stopped crying when our father left, with his company and his girls and his expensive suits. I’ll look after you now, he said. It’s my job.

But you’re a kid, I told him once. We’re kids. And he laughed and said, Not anymore. He always laughed when he should have cried.

Boys don’t cry, my father said once when I asked him why. They’re the men of the house. Men of the house were meant to earn money. Men of the house were meant to be strong. Men of the house were meant to be able to keep away, always safely away from that other world.

Those boys on the TV screens hadn’t cried. I wondered if any of them wanted to. I wondered if they had to be the men of the house. I wondered if any of them had ever been like my brother. I wondered what happened to the tears of boys, the men of the houses. I wondered if those tears became mine, the tears of all their little sisters. I thought about the tears of kids like us and kids like them, and how we all looked the same when we cried, like that boy at the vigil, all those years ago. The one boy I’d seen crying.

I thought of how none of them cried now at the vigils each year. If someone did, the boys looked awkward, eyes shifting from side to side, as if these tears weren’t meant for them. Their voices were drier, like the tears had been drained out of them.

I clung onto him and he pushed me away, even as he told me he’d always look after me.

It’s not the way you think, he whispered once when he thought I was asleep. It’s just

I’m sorry, I heard, and I wanted to cry because it was a sorry for our money and for our father and for the boy. Our parents, whose money covered them from us. Our money, which hid all our sharp edges and hid kids like the boy from us, kids who were in the wrong place with the wrong names at the wrong times.

I’m sorry, and then, Maybe I miss him, and the laughter was sharp underneath, the way he always laughed when he should have cried.

It was ten years until I saw the tears. He was staring at that photo that we all knew too well, and we hadn’t spoken to our father in two years, and it felt like we were lying by being there. I told myself I remembered him with my brother, the same way I told myself I could see what it was like to be them.

The boys who turned up ten years later were men now, men of the world with jobs or wives or both, with little ones tugging at their sleeves. They lowered their heads, but they didn’t cry, and I’d almost given up on expecting anyone to.

It was just me and him when everyone else had gone, when he said, He never grew up. He said it so quietly, and I thought of the boy at his age, two boys, one never grown up, one never a kid.

He never grew up, he said, and his voice cracked, and I saw the tears then, and I pressed my cheek against his. It’s OK, I whispered into his neck. It’s OK. Just let me hug you.

It was never me who cried, he said, and I hugged him because I loved him. I loved him too much to not feel crazy with it.

I know,  I said, and I stared at the boy until my eyes blurred, both the boys who had shuffled cards and shared laughs and been people.

I’m sorry, he said, and the tears fell down, voice breaking into jagged pieces. I’m sorry. He dragged his hand across his nose. I’m meant to be the goddamn man of the house, he said, and he laughed through his tears. It broke into another sob. This isn’t how I’m meant to be.

My arms went around him, and he let me hold him. For the first time, he let me hold him. I’m here, I said, and we sat there, our heads touching, as we stared at the photo of the boy who’d been meant to be, once upon a time. I’m here, and his tears were hot on my cheeks, and I held him as we knelt there, in all the jagged things that were meant to be.

 

 

 

 

lydia suffield (2)Lydia Suffield lives in Liverpool, and she likes being immersed in fandoms, creating her own little playlists for life, pretending to be someone else on stage, and scribbling out stories that unfold in her head while her thoughts reside on another planet. Someone once told her she was like a mix of Wednesday Addams and Matilda, and she plans to spend the rest of her life living up to the compliment. She blogs at The Little Enigma, and you can find her on Twitter @lydiaenigma.

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.

alone reflection downcast sad chaos street road
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

……….It starts when, in the shudder of spring warmth,
ghosts shatter in skyscraper shadows.
………..You spend afternoons drifting in the streets,
trying to find the missing seams of your bones.
………..Instead, you:
stumble upon a philosophy major who asks for the purpose
of the blurred horizon, which you do not know the answer to;

meet a coffee barista who is saving up for a rose-gold city south of here,
somewhere beyond the trills of sunrise, beyond hearts stolen and crushed;

listen to the stories of the girl standing with a cardboard sign at the gleaming traffic light,
green blinking into yellow blinking into red over and over and over.

………..It’s been creeping upon you for weeks, this recognition
that you are fourteen, one kid standing in one place,
there is an infinite expanse of worlds beyond,
………..and your ghosts are scorns of an ubiquitous past.

 

 

 

 

 

Rona WangRona Wang is a sixteen-year-old from Portland, OR. She has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has been published in The Best Teen Writing of 2014. She attended the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio in 2014. Currently she is a poetry reader at The Blueshift Journal. When not writing, she is prodding at a math problem or exploring one of the many downtown restaurants.

 

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.

anxiety depression guy
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

These walls are unbroken
Inside them I’m breaking
bending
bleeding
Pleading for freedom
far from this prison I’ve built.
Lyrical liar don’t listen to your words
You don’t hear the things they say.
You’ve sliced off your ears.
You’ve cut off your face.
What mind hides behind
that mindless mask?
Don’t make my blindness last.
Can’t let my facade melt,
won’t let them see
the truth underneath.
Signs and signals
they’re spelling it out.
Have you sold your eyes for shadows?
A sickle for sleep…
I can’t sleep.
I’m too heavy.
I’ll sink through the sheets,
they’ll suffocate me
I’m scared I’ll suffer
Maybe I deserve to suffer.
This indestructible house
is built from desire
deception
A blindfolded bulldozer,
driven by a damned, drugged man.
Guilt and greed
Coated on workers hands
Ignorance and blissfulness,
bricks born from false benevolence
Rickety rafters wrapped up in wrong
I hope the beams give way
but they won’t fall
until I do.
And I’ll stay until the very end.
I’ll tip my hat at a pile of rubble,
to my ashes I will be king.
But I know this place will remain
After the voices fade
And I’ll still be broken
And I’ll still be bound.
Outside of my room I hear no sound.
Inside of my head I plea
for forgiveness,
to a being that I simply don’t
believe in.
I’m not struggling,
I’m just shaking.
And these chains might be tight.
But fuck are they cozy.

 

 

 

 

Chance WalshChance Walsh is an eighteen-year-old autodidact.  He has been writing since he could read and recently finished his first novel, The Dream Descent, which he co-authored with his mother.  He enjoys acting and has done a lot of theater. He’s also written screenplays and produced short films. His true passion is writing, and he wants nothing more than to be an author. He spends, arguably, too much time writing poetry and listening to music.

 

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.

Haunted. A word I have never been able to understand. As a child, I made up stories of ghosts and ghouls, just for the sheer joy it brought. But those were stories — made up fragments of my mind. Completely and utterly fictional. Now, I can’t decipher the word. I physically can’t figure out the meaning of the thing.

The cold winter air begins to seep into my bones, intoxicating my brain. As time goes on my eyes droop slowly, my light hair loses its color, along with the rest of the world. To me, everything is a blur of gray and black.

Most days, I wait peacefully for something that will never come. I clutch onto it like it’s my lifeline, my savior. Without that Something, I am reduced to nothingness. Maybe it’s the thought of his bright eyes that keeps me sane.

Occasionally I find myself lost. Lost from my mind, my thoughts, my sanity. I feel his presence again. I can hear his laugh and see the vibrant colors from the fireplace before us dance across his face. He had so much light, so much joy. He helped me see the colors after the cruelty of the world stole them from me. Now that he’s gone, so are they.

When is the end of this? When is the finish line of the pain and sorrow? It all has to end at some point. I hold on to the thought of getting somewhere. If there isn’t a reward at the end, then what’s the point? Why should we have to spend our days here, trapped liked caged animals at the zoo? There has to be a point. There has to. That’s why I hold onto the Something. It’s a trophy, a prize, for hanging on this long.

I wonder if he got a reward for leaving. I can almost hear his smooth voice, telling me the clichest of things: “My reward is you. You’re all I need.” I’m hit with the overwhelming, gut-wrenching pain again. It takes all of my energy and strength not to double over onto the torn carpet below my feet.

Natalie Chyi
Photo courtesy of Natalie Chyi

The cold air turns to warmth and my nose is filled with the scent of cinnamon and freshly baked bread. He’s there, in the kitchen, working. The whole thing is fuzzy on the edges, and I can’t quite see straight. “I love you, you know that?” he asks. He turns so he’s facing me. There is dough and flour all over his arms and shirt. A giggle I didn’t know I was capable of escapes me, which makes him grin.

“I know. But you don’t have to tell me all the time.” I have no control over the words I say. They just spill out, unstoppable. The corners of his mouth turn down slightly and he gets back to baking. I want to scream at myself for not telling him that I love him. For taking his I love you’s for granted. Now I will never get to hear the words again.

The memory is gone as quickly as it came, and I’m once again surrounded by cold and solitude. I take deep breaths to try and calm my mind, but it doesn’t work. It never does. Anger bubbles in my stomach and slowly rises into my chest. I can’t keep holding it in. I’m afraid I’ll explode. I face the place where he stood in my memory. “I love you. . .” I murmur. I repeat it several times, each time my tone getting louder and louder.

“I love you!” I scream. I throw a pillow from the couch into the kitchen, using all of the strength I can bare to gather up. The pillow hits the middle island with a dull and disappointing thud.

Finally, the tears begin to flow. They work their way down my cheeks and onto the couch’s grimy brown leather. I haven’t cried since the accident. Not really, anyway. Sure, I’ve let go of a few tears, but not like this. I’ve never given myself the chance to let go of the sorrow and the anger I’ve built up inside. This past year, I’ve been nothing but a zombie, trudging around without a word.

I clutch my head and drop to my knees. I whisper a silent apology, to whom I’m not sure. Before I stop myself, I’m rocking back in forth. Normally I’d scold myself for acting so childish. Crying is for the weak. I am not weak. At least, I wasn’t. But without him, I don’t even know what I am anymore. I am nothing, just a woman with nothing else to look forward to. No marriage, no children, no life. I am a lost cause and a disappointment to everyone else.

The voices and faces of my past dance around in my head, laughing at me. I see them taunting me for failing. For giving up so easily. I try to explain, to tell them what happened, but I can’t speak and they don’t want to listen. I think I’m screaming, but I can’t quite hear anything anymore. I’m cascading into a pit of darkness. It doesn’t matter anyway. No one can hear me. I am indefinitely alone.

I am tortured every waking moment of my past. The people, the experiences, the places. They all come back to me and cry and scream. I can’t stop it. Nothing can. I am lost, unwanted, unneeded. There is nothing in me anymore but the memories that I hold. I understand now, the meaning of that word. I know now that I am and forever will be haunted.

 

 

 

 

Morgan Von Feldt is a small-town, thirteen-year-old Minnesotan girl, obsessed with various different fandoms. She has had a passion about writing for approximately two years, when she began her journey through the world of fanfiction on Wattpad. Soon after, she began expanding her writing into different types of fiction. She spends her days either with her nose in a book, procrastinating to a new extent, reciting lines on stage, or scribbling down a never-ending amount of story ideas in a notebook. Most often, her mind is somewhere completely else than it’s supposed to be, and she has a very deep way of thinking and processing things.

 

Natalie Chyi is an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who has recently moved to London, where she will be studying law for the next three years. She started photography to capture moments and pretty things/people/light/scenes as she sees them, and that idea is what continues to fuel all of her work. Find more of her work on nataliechyi.com, Facebook, or Tumblr.