Issue 107 Oct 2022
I'm Anna, 16 years old, and I already can't stand my life anymore. Oh, no I don't want to end my life, but I'm angry! Angry at my father who has already replaced my mother with Lucia - that's my "stepmother", if you can call her that way. It's been six months, six months since Mum died of fucking cancer and my dad has already replaced her with this... woman. You can see how much mom meant to Dad.
Let's change the subject. It's been three months since we moved to a new house. Three hundred km away from my friends, my school, and especially my passion, boxing. Boxing is my whole life, medals, cups, I did a lot of competitions, but it's over... and my father doesn't care. Tomorrow, it's the beginning of the school year, in this new bourgeois high school, where I'll be in a boarding school (finally good news). I feel that I'm not going to like it, but I have no choice. A little more than a year before my majority (I'm from the 18th of October), finally freedom and I'll be able to get out of this crazy house.
3rd September: 8 a.m.:
I start with math, my favorite subject... I sit in the last row; a guy sits next to me.
-Hi, are you new here?
-I'm Jonathan and you?
-Nice to meet you. Can I stay next to you?
I say yes and we continue to talk for the whole hour. He seems like a nice guy. At the end of the hour, he proposes me to meet his friends later after school. I told him that it won't be possible, maybe another time.
My words were failing me so completely and utterly. All the blank space looked as if it were taunting me. I had been up long enough, and had enough coffee, that the pixelated page I was typing on seemed to form an arrogant smirk.
I reread the twenty pages I had already written. That didn’t help. In fact, it only succeeded in reinforcing my doubts. Typos, grammar mistakes, poor vocabulary, et cetera. Good Lord. Why? Why was this so hard? What indefinable quality was I missing, what spark, what structure? Was it the word order? The plot? The diction? What made great writers so magnificent, and what separated the aforementioned great writers from the pretentious ones and the airheaded ones and the ones that did everything right but were still missing that X-factor that changed a piece from a look into the author to a reflection of the world and all the beauty and pain of humanity?
I reread what I had just written and frowned. Run-on sentences, while maybe not the answer, were probably part of it.
Rudderless, I drifted out of my chair and into the back garden. Now it was silent, but during the day I would be greeted with the overwhelming symphony of the cicadas. The insects were loud, this time of year, chirping and cricketing, desperate for a mate. So lonely were their cries.
I drifted back inside and made some tea, needing caffeine but wanting a change from coffee. While the tea steeped in hot water, I steeped in silence, perched on the kitchen counter, inhaling the scent of the Earl Grey. My thoughts slowed to almost nothing, a slow sludge of awareness and idle speculation.
Without warning, a heavy loneliness descended upon me. I thought of the cicadas as I dialed my friend Willow. Willow was a charming gal who always made an entrance and was followed by the semipermanent smell of bacon and lavender, an unlikely yet heavenly combination. She didn’t pick up the phone. I glanced at the time on the stove and frowned. Of course she didn’t—it was three in the morning, and some people I knew weren’t writative insomniacs.
I scrolled through my contacts and dialed Tris. Tris worked the night shift on weekends at the American Cancer Society in order to drum up enough funds to get a degree in anthropology at the University of Texas. She was quiet, mostly, with a wild streak and short hair dyed platinum blonde. It was a Saturday, so she would just be returning home.
I’ve never been the type to be decisive. To be fair, I’ve never been the type to be much of anything. I’m more of an in–between type person, not quite this nor that—but I won’t flatter myself by self–bombarding with adjectives.
“So, which season did you say again?”
My Chem partner for the get–to–know–you questionnaire is looking at me with a mild impatience in her eyes, her eyebrows creasing ever so slightly.
“Well, I would probably say summer…” I pause. I stereotypically associate summer with blindly optimistic, lighthearted people; the physical epitome of a California Valley Girl. That could only be me when really tired, tipsy, or in love—none of which have ever ended well. Saying that my favorite season is summer would not only be bad luck, but also falsely portray my personality as blithe. That doesn’t fit Chem as a subject—and besides, everyone loves summer. It’s too basic, which is also something I don’t want to be.
“Actually, it’s winter, sorry.” I give her an apologetic smile, which, knowing me, probably just looks like an awkward grimace. My chem partner writes down my answer slowly, as if her thoughts are slow to translate into her hand. I wonder where her head is, and if that means she’s bored of our conversation, or me.
It’s just your Chem partner. It’s not like you’ll become best friends or anything. But you could definitely be more enthusiastic. “So, what’s your favorite season?”
“Summer.” My chem partner says automatically. A slight flicker in her eyes smiles at her own quick reply, as if she’s making a private inside joke about me. I smile at her guiltily, pretending to ignore that I think summer is a basic season to love. It’s not like it’s actually indicative of anything. Or maybe she’s smiling because winter is so unpopular—it’s kind of an edgy season to like. Drab and lifeless.
“That’s cool,” I say languidly. “By the way, I would actually say my favorite season is fall.” Yeah, that’s definitely a normal season to like. All fresh and tranquil and everything.