a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
[content warning: alcohol, sexual content]
Brendan made hand gestures and laughed through his teeth. You ate ice cream by the park and changed tables two times, first because of the traffic, then because of the bees. He only offered to pay half-heartedly; “I insist” he said at the counter, in a high pitched voice. Your cotton candy ice cream was freezer burnt. It cost you 4 dollars and 36 cents.
Xan with the side smirk took you to a pub. He had lazy hazel eyes and California tan, like he did in his profile picture. You drank beer from bottles and sat in a maroon booth by the corner. He hated how cliché he sounded- he really did- but he would die for some of his fraternity brothers. He stared at your cleavage and asked if you wanted to watch a movie back at his place. You walked home by yourself in the rain. You had no headphones.
[content warning: death, eating disorders]
what happened to me?
i was a rosy-cheeked girl
with a figure as thin as the tooth of a fine comb
a vehicle for hatred and jealousy
but also love and adoration
how did i end up like this
at the peak of my youth
dead and inflated on the kitchen floor?
Fluffy cotton balls have stopped dripping from above and retreated to the sides for the sun to shine. The tiny puddle of fresh rainwater in the middle of the unevenly paved path reduces to a darkened patch on the cement, leaving behind only an earthy scent that permeates the air. Stripped of its bath, the snail draws its head up in slow motion, scoliosis cured. Antennae perking straight up, he scans the gigantic world around him like a lighthouse looking for a lost ship in the blue abyss. Except the snail is lost in the lethal dosage of a sunbath. To the left, the snail picks up the quiet odor of a friend. The safest way home is to trail a road already taken.
What is there to lose,
when you are behind bars
even when innocence is all you feel,
your soul ripping apart,
your heart shattering
to shards of glass, bleeding
the nerves in your brain. You beg
for forgiveness, wait for their answer,
My life can be described as an indescribable monotony. Each day I wake up and leave my soft bed (my sleep never lasts long enough.) Each day I do tasks that seem to regenerate. Each day I take a nap at 3:00 p.m. Each day I engage in simple and meaningless conversations. Each day I eat, but I retain no sustenance. Each day. Each day bleeds into the other like the blood coursing through my veins, traveling to my heart and my lungs and my brain.
no longer a package deal with the twinkle in your eyes.
no longer a mood lifter with that magical spark.
lack the flashing green light atop the screen.
lack the revitalising comfort of your voice.
withering into the loudest silence.
I do not have anxiety. I don’t. I swear. Anyone who knows me will surely admit that I am just an average teenager. At least, I think they would. Well, so what if they think I’m weird? I guess maybe that would mean they secretly hate me. And that they’ve been lying to me this whole time about what they think of me. And that I would have no friends left. And… am I overthinking this? It’s probably apparent now, but what I said earlier was a slight lie. I might have anxiety. But what exactly does that mean? The word “anxiety” can have many different meanings depending on who is saying it and the situation.
a halmoni's recipe
one with withered paper
a dilapidated polaroid
i see as an ember of burning reels of film
boyish and coyish boy
flitters like an amorphous shadow
that is half as dark
because the light that shines
is only half as radiant
[content warning: sexual abuse]
I look down at my phone and I freeze.
My legs still hurt from last night.
My stomach drops, but I know what I have to do.
“Can I go to the bathroom?” I ask as my leg bounces. “It’s an emergency.”
The teacher nods, and I shoot up, shuffling towards the door.
He’ll get angry and hurt me if I don’t meet him.
[content warning: death of animals]
The school calls late Sunday night. It is an automated voice, emotionless, giving me and my brother Christmas morning in the middle of January: no school the next day. Even if they had not called off for the imminent snow storm, we wouldn’t have gone in for the trouble of attempting to get down our long gravel driveway.
Mama still puts us to bed on time, but I stay up for hours, watching the snow roll in and slowly begin to pile up and up and up. I picture myself trudging through it all, a hero on her way to save her kingdom from monsters hidden in the dark.
[content warning: death, alcohol]
What do you think it felt like,
to die all alone on that snowy road?
Was he scared? Did he know what was coming when the cars collided? I think the oblivion of it all would be preferable. I hope he wasn’t frightened; I hope he was calm. Alcohol will do that to a man.
I don’t want to know what Grandma thought. She was only forty-three, only two living boys at home after losing two more. Four births to only bring home two of your babies will rob anyone of their kindness. At least Momma reminded me of that anytime Grandma was spiteful towards her. At least Momma got to take home all four of her babies.
[content warning: blood, implied suicide]
please, keep talking. i unfold the future, spoon blades of light to dry lips
sword-swallow joy, choking on the bones of your hollow smile.
heart, calcified & quiet, we’ll live forever, the ocean
in our palms. through moonlight, reflecting the sea salt streams
on our faces on the water’s edge sour taste of past tense
[content warning: death, depression, minor sexual content]
My mum once said that ‘a house is constructed but a home is crafted’. Within these years of my life, I have tried to knit, sketch, ramble or even clatter my words, my version of it with different yarns on the same piece of cloth having this line pre-inscribed. I feel that by the day I would die, I can find that cloth as a stone over my head, as a resting structure with plants growing all around supplying me with fresh oxygen, which I won’t be alive to inhale! Plants are my mom’s love. They have occupied almost every nook at the corner balcony. I wonder how they cook their own food there, when sunlight during every part of the year is so dim. Perhaps the rains aren’t scanty enough. They don’t get disturbed by the constant trickling water from the old cooler and the grunting sewerage pipes, their offensive smell.
The ocean breathes, her surface rising and falling with rhythmic ease
The shore is order and chaos, the land and ocean meeting one another as they please
The ocean as waves of blue-light move over unmeasured horizons
Seashells bloom upon the shore in the sweetest of caramel curls and twirls.
Rot away the ache in your chest,
Let it crumble to dirt.
There are gardens to fertilise,
Plants yet to grow.
Devour the ice in your veins,
Churn it around until it melts.
The water it leaves will dribble down your chin,
Will soak the collar of your shirt.
I cannot speak them.
The words come out a whisper,
dying on my tongue before they have a chance to hit their target.
Am I the arrow? Am I the bow? Or am I the target?
(that society can’t seem to hit in the center, no matter how much it wishes to).
You were born
Under silver rings and frigid white.
You were born
Against a wall
With quiet eyes
Screwed in like lightbulbs.
Are you hungry,
A deep aching pull
In between sinew and snapped bone?
Orpheus must've known
The Eurydice wasn't going to make it out.
He must've known
Through the gods,
Or his rotten luck,
Or plain common sense
That she wasn't leaving with him.
Better to get it over with
And see her one last time
Than to be disappointedly alone
Under the glaring sun.
Floating away with only papers left behind--
a blip in the universe’s pools, one last burst
of fired energy channeled by the stars upon
departure is to recreate our birth.
Each of the atoms
that form the body I’m zipped into vibrates
with the potential to create and execute
something amazing, the same potential
all atoms buzz around with,
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.