Our bus is stuck in traffic
and I’m late for lunch with my grandpa
because his silence makes me feel a little bit less lonely
in a world where it’s easier to forget
the deaths of old friends, the day’s list of tragedies.
I know he longs for fiction—
his home, by the bay, indestructible.
I once ran with innocence through the halls of his apartment,
but I no longer have that lens of childhood sweetness
or his escape from reality.
New York’s too cold tonight.
I shiver in the loss of naivete.
The bus lurches forward
in the city where it’s possible to be enveloped in the heat
of hundreds of apartment lights and still feel a chill
tremble through your heart.
They want me to be myself like a shark might be herself in a city aquarium
Motionless, encumbered by the glass.
I pretend like I’m told.
I am the only passenger left,
waiting to wade in the tide of unknown
undulate along the waves of my intuition,
and send ripples through the status quo,
but I am impatient.
It is now nighttime and for a fleeting moment
the chaos of the pandemic blurs into stillness.
I tell the driver what is beneath my kaleidoscopic eyes,
my truth fading into the endless cries of taxis
and the wispy strands of smoke rising from concrete.
Whether or not he listened,
I entered The Wild, glass shattered.
Gabrielle Beck is a junior attending Tenafly High School. When she is not writing or photographing, she can be found repurposing vintage denim. She is a finalist for New York Times “Coming of Age in 2020: A Special Multimedia Contest for Teenagers,” and recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English. Her writing and photography has been featured in Kalopsia Literary Journal, Cathartic Literary Magazine, Young Writers Project, and Written by the Youth.