January 24, 2024
The sun sets. I start again.
I imagine I was born with this hunger – this curiosity, this quest for understanding.
It is like a God to me – with neither face nor age. Omnipotent, omnipresent. I worship it on bare knees, over rocks and roots.
I am nude as the day I was born.
My mind is empty save for faceless memories of a place I may once have called home.
I pulled myself from the ashes of empty womb and shed skin knowing there was a story to be heard,
lessons to be learned,
waltzes to be danced,
faces to memorize,
people to love.
12:30: learning to walk
I stumble through fields of dandelions, knees buckling, ligaments and tendons and muscles weak with atrophy.
I ache for the tissue and blood to oxidize, to make me old. Like you.
I slip in the puddles of discarded sinew, and hear a cacophony of sounds as I remember how to put left before right.
My teeth form a straight line. Smile. Wince.
Towards you all, I smile.
“What are you?”
It’s an accusation, not a question.
I crawl back into myself then, back into the earth, ready to bloom again.
There’s a letter written in scarlet pinned to my beating heart. It is crimson in color and tells a story of where I came from in words I cannot read.
I stare at it in the mirror – poke, pull, prod. It does not budge. There’s nothing else to cover my decency.
Around the corner, a few blocks away, sits a gas station. Behind the counter there is a man with a flag on his hat. I do not know what that means. I ask him for a map and tell him that I am hungry. He points – not at me. Through me.
Pokes a hole straight through the left of my chest, but I am invincible. Still new.
“What are you?”
His fingers are now stained scarlet.
I leave with a map and an apple. I take a bite, but my teeth are too weak. When I pull away, they remain lodged in the fruit’s rigid flesh. Fangs pierce my gums in their wake. I toss the apple to the floor, and run.
I run. I pass by houses and streets, mountains then streams, taking and taking with an open heart and hands.
Before long, I am air.
No, I am wings and fangs and teeth, and faster than the very wind itself.
20:00: start againMy bones are malleable, delicate, bending and breaking at will. A small price to pay, for
I hold it all – everything I have taken, nothing I have earned – in the palms of my hands.
There are remnants of memories that I can find if I stretch my thumbs back, then up through my temporal lobes. It brings a dull ache to the back of my eye sockets.
I remember pursed lips above golden flames — small as if a nymph had created them herself.
But I hold none of this. Nothing other than this primordial angst.
So I trade stick and leaf for paper and pen, my only weapons as I set out to enact my holy conquest.
The sun sets. I start again. ■
Layout: Ava Jiang
Creative Director: Aaron Boehmer
Photographer: Aaron Boehmer
Videographer: Madison Payne
Stylists: Bella Muñoz, Emily Martinez & Laila Dieye
HMUA: Azucena Mosqueda & Grace Kimball
Models: Tyler Tran, Ava Hale & Jaden Spurlock