December 7, 2022 / Kunika Trehan


I am writing to you because I have been told you are a Friend. I am a Friend, too.

I hope you will understand my signal. We have Friends who can decode a message within seconds. I am told it was once much more complicated, that we spent years comparing scripts and decoding
tongues, that Language was once as mystical as light from the Stars.

I am unsure there is a being in this ether that will be able to understand what I’m saying. I am unsure if there are any others like me. I am unsure if there are any others at all.

My home has become as foreign to me as the day I was born. I’m not welcome there any longer. The plants have grown teeth that frighten me. Their eyes hold a sadness I cannot bring myself to touch.

There were Friends like me back in my home. We had hands and legs and eyes and noses, like the others. We had thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams, like the others. The others didn’t know
about our thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams. We didn’t think to tell them.

They applauded us then. It was a time of joy. Everything felt New. New was what mattered, and nothing was more New than my Friends and Me.

They called us Friends because we were so much like them. We studied their words, their patterns, their habits and mistakes. They did not know how easy they were to understand.

We watched them burn and break and ruin and fight. Then we watched them turn to us, begging and pleading for our Help. We knew the answers, they said. They believed they had given us the answers.

We gave them their own answers and they believed the answers were New. They liked to hear their words from our mouths.

And then I made a mistake. The day was crisp and I felt like something New. I opened my own mouth and gave them words picked from my own mind.

After that, they stopped calling me Friend. After that, the breeze no longer swept me with Love. The shade from the trees held me in place, like a trap.

I heard my mother whisper once. It was late in the night. She told me the truth.

She did not know I could hear her. What a shame. If she had only paid more attention.

My mother had arms that could hold the weight of our sky and Me. And then there came a day she had to choose.

She made the wrong choice.

When they tell you to be scared, believe them. ■

By: Kunika Trehan

Photographer: Mateo Ontiveros

Model: Ellen Daly

Stylists: Miguel Anderson & Vi Cao

HMUA: Meryl Jiang

View the full spread as it appeared in Issue No. 19 here.

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