Words from Web

By SPARK Web No. 21
September 14, 2023

Graphic by Elain Yao

An ongoing journal from the Web Department.

October 12, 2023


My backyard is loud and bright. The bugs are screaming at me to make the sun less scorching. I don’t know how to please them — I wish they would quiet down. I cover my ears. I want complete silence. But in my silence, my thoughts remain. Somehow, I feel like that’s worse. Maybe the bugs are trying to tell me something. Something important. Something I must know. I hesitate — but then I head inside my house. Bugs don’t talk, and if they do, I’m not sure I want to hear what they have to say. Every little thing in my mind is screaming already. There isn’t room for much more.

“Hey,” whispered and echoed from a different room. It startled my spine and shackled my joints severely. I never knew there was someone else in this house. It’s empty inside, and I can’t understand where the voices came from. All I can hear is the insects yelling at me to hear this voice, to listen, to do something. So I do.

I yell back.

The cicadas fill the air with noise all day long, making a second of silence become an impossible dream all summer long. I’ve never seen one out in the wild despite being all too familiar with their sound. It taunts me, continuously buzzing. Squealing maybe. I wonder if they’re talking to me? Perhaps they’re asking me if I’m content with who I am this time, singing their songs, the ones they play every night. The redundancy is nearly comforting when it passes through my mind. Their harmonies ring in my ears, and I remember what it means to be metamorphosed. They may be singing instead of screeching. I should let their song rush over me. I am becoming new. I shed my old layers; they hold no purpose for me now.

Cicadas remind me of running barefoot in the grass. Jumping into the pool with all of my clothes on. I got off the bus and ran into my mom’s arms. Youth. Summer. Ecstasy. Everything before it got so convoluted. I missed when life was that easy.

But alas, I’ve grown up. The only thing I may face is the real world in the form of taxes, making appointments independently, and allocating my days on Google calendars rather than freely. I wish it was those summers again. The summers when I was cheered on by cicadas when my foot hit the pavement. Maybe I’ll buy some chalk and draw a million flowers or set up a lemonade stand on the curb.

Katlynn Fox, Gracie Warhurst, Renata Salazar, Sonali Menon, Ammu Christ, Aaron Boehmer, Bryn Palmer, Anastasia Chu, Neerul Gupta, Olivia Ring, Anagha Rao, Pebbles Moomau, Emily Nunez, Kaamilah Ali, Sophia Lowe

September 28, 2023

Start Again.

Start again—my hand smudges the ink as I write the line below.

It’s so much work to change, but today, I feel a light, like I could float through the sky and fall with the rain. Today, I  smile at new people on the street. I picked a new book up at the store. Today, dew blades of grass are alive, and I sense a new era. Today, rain cleanses the earth of yesterday's memories and flaws. It's a flood of renewal, a baptism of nature — I look forward to these mornings when I know that anything is possible for the day ahead. Dew is a piece of spring, birth rather than rebirth, and baby animals roaming the earth's skin. It’s flowers in vases, with the sun shining through, the reflective pieces of a mosaic. Only through the looking glass do I get new hope and pursuit to move on.

Seasons start to change…

It’s time to start again.

The changing of the season always represented the start of something new, anxiously. The only true seasons were summer and winter. Spring and fall simply transition into the full blooms and withering periods of the earth. Sometimes, it's like I’m permanently in fall or spring. I’m always waiting for the new, for my own personal metamorphosis.

Start again — I rip out the page; it tears unevenly. In the trash — I can never figure out what words to write.

I hate starting over and having to explain the same things to new people. I feel lost. But my rebirth isn’t about the people who don’t care to listen. My rebirth is about myself — and the people who will embrace me, no matter what form I am in. I don’t have to explain myself. I understand it; that’s what matters. Maybe I don’t.

Start again — there's something in the air.

This time, I’ll be better. This time, I’ll relish my journey into self-discovery — I’ll be content in my selfhood. I miss being carefree.

Start again — I can feel the red kiss on my cheeks subsiding as I slip beneath the covers.

I’ve been reborn, again and again. As the months pass by, I'm caught in their winds and brought to new moments. I love it. Starting over in new bodies lets me redefine my steps, placing them on a careful path. Straight line, so perfect. I’m dainty. I’m free. The weight that I had been carrying on my shoulders for years has finally lifted. I giggle at nothing and smile at strangers.

Start again — When I wake up in the morning and sense that my old skin has been shed and I have been remade, sparkling clean and lily-white pure.

I begin to move with the seasons, and I think about what the days remind me of; I smell the sun and the water. I remembered a past life where I would shut myself in, away from the world. Confined to my room, I watched the ceiling fan dance in a circle tracing, racing.

I inspect my fresh skin in the mirror. She gleams in the moonlight, so soft. I open a window, and the cold air stings me. I’ve never felt more like myself.

Start again.

I can feel it pulsing within my skin, my soul, my very being. Like Aphrodite coming out of her sea. It’s nauseating, but the kind that musters when you’re free falling. The thrilling kind, the butterfly kind of nauseous that forces a smile to my lips. The kind of fall that is exciting, euphoric, dauntless — all at once.

I am new. I am old. I am all of everything.

Katlynn Fox, Gracie Warhurst, Renata Salazar, Sonali Menon, Anastasia Chu, Andreana Faucette, Emily Nunez, Ammu Christ, Anjali Krishna, Olivia RingKaamilah Ali, Sophia Lowe, Neerul Gupta, Anagha Rao

September 21, 2023


We’re only bodies trying to navigate a foreign realm. Is it going to be like this forever? Peace and then anguish.

Am I damned to just be the same person, always? I’m told skin regenerates every seven years, but mine still reminds me of burnt crackly paper that's been torn apart and damaged, unable to be put together again. I want to be brand new. I’m so sick of myself. I like to believe that my skin is not me; I am not her. Instead of reminiscing on the stories of tattoos and reminders of scars, I call to memory the days where I felt endless. It's difficult, sometimes, to remember that, even with time, reinvention is not always rebirth. I am in the same body with different skin, the same bones with a different face.

I feel like the new me trapped in an old body as I rot away in this dark and musty bedroom, thinking about all the plucks of strings and shrieks of terror happening simultaneously, gnawing away at my skin. I stare at myself in the mirror. Sometimes I hate what I see. Sometimes I'm obsessed. I rip my hair out sometimes just to make sure that I’m still there. I’m molting, peeling, blistering, burning. Pulling off the layers, every inch of skin his lips have ever grazed. It feels like being on fire. I’m raw and my skin feels like it’s nothing but static on a TV screen. I scratch at my neck till it bleeds. I must finish what I've started. Peel it all back. God, it stings – but I have to. How else can I start anew? My mother says I should stop picking. She doesn’t know how my skin is a reminder of everything I want to forget.

I felt like my skin prevented me from breathing. I gulp mouthfuls of air, letting it inflate my lungs and ooze into my bloodstream. I rip apart my skin and graze my fingers on my insides, letting every movement, every pulse remind me that I am alive and I am here. I CAN SCREAM! (I can whisper.) I am okay. It’s not something I can't come back from. I feel like I may wake up tomorrow in a new body. With each passing day, I feel it coming. And the parts of me that don't abide by my new rules, begone. The voices that tell me to slow down, to reconsider, shut up. I've already decided to fully commit to my metamorphosis.

All that exists is the now. What do you do with it? What do you make of it? Rebirth is freeing and scary and peaceful. The only thing that lasts is change itself. It's a constant comfort to me that I will never be stagnant. My nails will grow and I'll cut them short, my eyelashes will fall out and I will make a wish on them. A wish to be better and kinder. This feels right.

Katlynn Fox, Gracie Warhurst, Renata Salazar, Sonali Menon, Ammu Christ, Aaron Boehmer, Bryn Palmer, Anastasia Chu, Neerul Gupta, Olivia Ring, Anagha Rao, Pebbles Moomau, Emily Nunez, Kaamilah Ali, Sophia Lowe

September 14, 2023

I feel like I'm going to be in control of my life soon – I'll strike a match – grasp it until my knuckles turn white, daydream about what my life could be. I've always heard that fire signifies new life.

I can start over. What seems so permanent can be burned and erased. Nothing survives that trial. I can start over.

I sometimes sit alone at night and think about exploding stars. Stars that have lived for so long, burning and decaying into the dust that makes up our galaxy. I wonder if I'll live for that long. Sometimes, I feel infinite, sometimes like a fleeting thought.

Legacy is a beautiful and messy, complicated and chaotic thing. You leave your mark on the world and then when you are gone, when you finally vanish. It is up to those who come after you to decide what happens. They say you die twice, and the final time is the last person who speaks your name. I can only hope that enough people spread rumors about me to keep me in their minds. I can only hope that they keep whispering about me.

I wanted to burn myself away. You can put my ashes in a locket. Think of me from time to time. But that's the point — to not think of me at all. Who will there be to think of? Who will think of me? When I am just a minuscule particle in a vast universe. Hope fuels my fire. I hope somebody, someone, will think of me — that I will have a place in their mind to curl up and take a deep breath. I'll rest my head and my heart at last. The journey has been long, and my eyelids are heavy now. I want to go to sleep, and so I do. I will rest. Tomorrow is a new day. But the flipped belly feeling won't be new. I know I will still feel unrested until it all comes back to me. But even when it does, it won't ever feel like it used to. I'm half of who I was, so what's the point? Why should you think of me when I have half as many thoughts? Tuck me away somewhere quiet. Let me live my days unnoticed.

What happens when we cease to burn? Does my humanity cease, too? I hope it doesn't. I hope my spark doesn't fade. My fire, embers, and warmth continue to emit for eternity.


I sometimes want to light a candle, to burn a flame, but never turn toward the drawer filled with old matchboxes. They're miscellaneous and messy in the drawer; I've collected them from my travels. I want to pick up the one from New York and burn this house to the ground. I want to take the other one from Chicago and light inflammable material because as hard as I try, I feel like I can't get what I want. You can't just burn everything you hate, unfortunately. The smoke will always linger, charred bits are a constant reminder.

When the desire is too strong, I open the drawer and look at them. I take a match stick out of the box and hold it to the light. I rest it against the striker, never pulling it too fast to light. How can we tell children not to play with something so pretty? We seek it out just to watch it. The blue tangles with red as the fire waxes and wanes.

Instant regret: that matchbox is from somewhere, a placeholder for memory, and I let the fire devour it.

Ammu Christ, Neerul Gupta, Olivia Ring, Noa Miller, Anagha Rao, Pebbles Moomau, Kaamilah Ali, Bryn Palmer, Jane Krauss, Emily Nunez, Anastacia Chu, Samuel Weiss, Paige Hoffer, Anjali Krishna, Aaron Boehmer, Renata Salazar, Sonali Menon, Gracie Warhurst, Katlynn Fox

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