Illustration: bottle person with a fingerprint for a face

closer to home

let’s set a scene: every past version of yourself
bubbles in your mouth like treachery. they take

your hands and give you a shadow
as compensation. you stand in front of an audience

and only hear how they scream at each other.
the places you’ve stitched onto your tongue are

aconite, and in the night when the air conditioner
rattles, you see faces sinking into each other.

dear diary. day one. take whatever. you run and run.
plastic chafing your skin. little lady, little limbs,

a little speech. slowly, you peel off the congealed
plaster and drag it to the garden, to all the people

you don’t know. there will be no funeral, no last
rites. you draw lines of all the guilt and guile they

spoke about, a little child’s voice saying chaand! chaand.
there’s a no parking sign, an empty lot, and you’ve

got a friend. she asks you when was the last time
you felt like this, and you’re sitting in the mirror,

no hand, no fight, no friend. she doesn’t smile. she
can’t. there’s a playground nearby, and god knows

how you felt there, thinking too hard about the
physics of falling and lying there on the ground of

the city you built. the birds nibbling at your earlobe
and the clouds smiling, your things unrusted,

a racetrack before you.
you take off and don’t stop.

Dhwanee Goyal (she/her) is a fifteen-year-old student from Maharashtra, India. Pretty buildings make her heart beat fast, and she likes puns, double-sided blankets, sentences that trail off and… She is published in Blackbox Manifold and Eunoia Review, amongst others. She hopes you found some brightness to your day.

Mirror illustration by C.B. Auder.

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