If I close my eyes hard enough they hurt, I can pretend all I know is that vitreous
summer. No grass, no sand and shells, only the soreness from staring down at choices
for too long. On those yellow-lined roads, we walked, prayers drying on our tongues,
our shorts papery, palms sticking to each other. Big words, bubble-blown at the moon.
School kissed our foreheads. The trees wouldn’t shake, but they’d smile with the wind. If only
my parents knew that laughing felt like the right way of being ripped apart. Maybe then, there
wouldn’t have been so much swallowing. The air was streaked with our sweat—proof
that we were real besides the rusted taxis slowing down for our hands. Here are
testaments to how summer spat us up naked: telling the part-time lady we were eighteen or older
and howling. Fishing for silences to fill the cavity of two digits. Flapping our arms to fly home.
After that, the bugs began. They didn’t buzz or trill—they cried. Especially the cicadas, God,
could they cry. Voices awkward and hoarse like they had a better sound lodged in their throat.
It’s half past yesterday and my room is the hill a star chose to die on, lit frantically from the inside
out. The TV is an assortment of hair colors & they move so fast. I can see the protesting outline of
our breaths against the breeze. I’m leaving soon, for good, and when I’m not here anymore—I can’t be
begging summer to open back up. It’d be a special shame, being welcomed into my own home. So I lift
my head and try to stomach the busy air. I pluck the traffic cones from the incessant construction
sites and wear them like ornaments on my shirts. I lunge and yank the stars down, replace them
with satellites. I’m too scared to exhale any color but gray. And in all the useless gaps in my body, I bear
the pale lie that we were bobbing for breath together, the intersections of our time a rakish grin of hope.
Arim Lee is a high school student based in Andover and Seoul. Her work has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Writers, The Harvard Crimson, The Fitzgerald Museum, Smith College, and more. She founded and reads for CHINCHILLA LIT, as well as The Courant, The Hanok Review, and Polyphony Lit. In her free time, she enjoys listening to the same song over and over again (right now it’s Mido and Falasol’s “Superstar”).