I’m not sure what to say about struggle except that it feels like a long, dark tunnel with no light at the end. You never notice until it’s over the ways it has changed you and there is no going back. We struggled a lot this year. For everyone who picked a fight with life and got the shit kicked out of them: I’m proud of you for surviving. This year I learned that cities are beautiful from rooftops even when you’re sad and that swimming in rivers while the sun sets in July will make you feel hopeful, no matter what’s going on at home. I found out my best friend is strong enough to swing me over his shoulder like I’m weightless and run down the street while I’m squealing and kicking against his chest. I found out vegan rice milk whipped cream is delicious, especially when it’s licked off the stomach of a boy you love. This year I kissed too many people with broken hearts and hands like mousetraps. If I could go back and unhurt them I would. If I could go back even farther and never meet them I would do that too. I turned 21. There’s no getting around it. I’m an adult now. Navigating the world has proved harder than I expected. There were times I was reckless. In my struggle to survive I hurt others. Apologies do not make good bandages. I’m not sure what to say about change except that it reminds me of the Bible story with the lions’ den. But you are not named Daniel and you have not been praying, so God lets the beasts get a few deep, painful swipes at you before the morning comes and you’re pulled into the light, exhausted and cut to shit. The good news is you survived. The bad news is you’re hurt and no one can heal you but yourself. You just have to find a stiff drink and a clean needle before you bleed out. And then you get up. And start over.
Clementine von Radics
William sees it all happen again. The pain is not in the event. The subjection to it and his powerless state each time is where his anguish lies. He is unable to influence the situation, despite his desire. He sees the nest outside his house. He sees the baby bird that fell. The mother bird cries frantically for her lost chick. William knows as he approaches the chick that if he touches it his scent will linger and the mother will reject it. Circling around the fallen creature William hopes it will flee from him, back toward the tree from which it had fallen. His presence only intensifies the creature’s fear. It speeds to his left, heading for the street. Again William tries to flank the bird, but it is too frightened to return to the nest. The chick’s mother wails vainly. William walks into the street trying to herd the bird to safety. The stop light a block away has just turned green. The driver accelerates. William moves from the car’s path and it runs over the bird. The momentum from its wake lifts the bird to the underside of the car, breaking its neck, but not killing it. William watches the bird roll helplessly. It is silent for a second, before it begins to whimper. Its contorted head dangles limply from its body. The noise is tragic. The bird’s mother hears the chick’s pain, but nothing can be done. She laments. A second speeder crushes the chick, leaving only a wet feathered spot in the street. As the cars continue to pass, only one bird is heard. A mother’s grief falls deafly on an unconcerned world.
M.R. Gott
His eyes are so beautiful and dark and they do look like that dog’s—I mean, that wolf’s. They are kind and strong and a little bit something else and I like them. I like them a lot. No, I like them way too much. Something inside me gets a little warmer, edges closer to him.The fire crackles and I jump again, jittery, nervous, but I don’t jump away from Nick. I jump toward him. Nick in the firelight with just a blanket on is a little hard to resist, no matter how crazy he might be. His skin, deep with heat, seems to glisten. His muscles are defined and good but not all steroid bulky. He is so perfect. And beautiful. In a boy way. Not a monster way. Not a wolf way.Are you going to kiss me? My words tremble into the air.He smiles but doesn’t answer.I’ve never kissed a werewolf before. Are were kisses like pixie kisses? Do they do something to you? Is that why you never kissed anybody?He gives a little smile. No. It’s just I never kissed anyone because I never thought I could be honest about who I am, you know? And I didn’t want anyone to get attached to me because . . .Because you’re a werewolf.Because I’m a werewolf, he repeats softly. Watching his lips move makes me shiver; not in a scared way, in more of an oh-he-is-too-beautiful way.I put my hand against his skin. It is warm. It’s always been warm. He smells so good, like woods and safety. I swallow my fear and move forward and my lips meet his, angel-light, a tiny promise. His lips move beneath mine. His hands move to my shoulders and my mouth feels like it will burst with happiness. My whole body shakes with it.Wow, I say.Yeah, he says. Wow.Our mouths meet again. It’s like my lips belong there . . . right there. One tiny part of me has finally found a place to fit.
Carrie Jones
Bowman was aware of some changes in his behavior patterns; it would have been absurd to expect anything else in the circumstances. He could no longer tolerate silence; except when he was sleeping, or talking over the circuit to Earth, he kept the ship's sound system running at almost painful loudness. / At first, needing the companionship of the human voice, he had listened to classical plays--especially the works of Shaw, Ibsen and Shakespeare--or poetry readings from Discovery's enormous library of recorded sounds. The problems they dealt with, however, seemed so remote, or so easily resolved with a little common sense, that after a while he lost patience with them. / So he switched to opera--usually in Italian or German, so that he was not distracted even by the minimal intellectual content that most operas contained. This phase lasted for two weeks before he realized that the sound of all these superbly trained voices was only exacerbating his loneliness. But what finally ended this cycle was Verdi's Requiem Mass, which he had never heard performed on Earth. The Dies Irae, roaring with ominous appropriateness through the empty ship, left him completely shattered; and when the trumpets of Doomsday echoed from the heavens, he could endure no more. / Thereafter, he played only instrumental music. He started with the romantic composers, but shed them one by one as their emotional outpourings became too oppressive. Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, lasted a few weeks, Beethoven rather longer. He finally found peace, as so many others had done, in the abstract architecture of Bach, occasionally ornamented with Mozart. / And so Discovery drove on toward Saturn, as often as not pulsating with the cool music of the harpsichord, the frozen thoughts of a brain that had been dust for twice a hundred years.
Arthur C. Clarke