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eternally (after The String Quartet by Virginia Woolf)

By Alice He

The painted sunset is the only entity that bears witness to our crimes. When dusk settles on the horizon and the sky fades into a twilight bluer than the bottom of the ocean, I hear your voice, its low timbre ringing in my ears and reaching all the way down to the soles of my feet. What are you confessing? Hatred disguised as love, love disguised as hatred. Indistinguishable as the shadows surrounding us. Indistinguishable as silhouettes running away from us on a cold winter evening three years ago, the second beginning to a lost history.

The wind blows. Unrelenting, it whips across our bare skin, turning sun-kissed skin a fiery pink, raw with the season’s greetings and past memories of the same conversation on a different balcony. For me it stings, tears at an open wound, pierces tender scars not quite healed, feelings once buried beneath layers of hurt resurfacing with the intensity of the stars in the sky like constellations blinking into existence. The familiar longing for something forbidden, a fruit so sweet it hurts your throat, mocking in all its ripe glory and tantalizing fragrance, closer than the space between us but somehow infinitely more untouchable.

Why then, do you insist on speaking? On calling my name? I ask, no, I plead you to refrain from being cruel; yes, I have endured enough of this, the giving without taking, the tireless pretending that nothing has changed, the tears that only fall when the world is quiet and the darkness presides. One fragile moment, silent and breakable, like spun glass under blazing lights, illuminating the secrets neither of us could say, uncovering years of yearning and holding back. It won’t save us.


Alice He is a junior at a preparatory boarding school in the New England area of the United States. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, she has been writing creatively since second grade, when she fell in love with words as a means of self-reflection and expression. She has been published in the Blue Marble Review and Paper Crane Journal, and has also been recognized by the Scholastic Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. When she is not writing, she can be found daydreaming about flowers, listening to SEVENTEEN’s latest album, or studying organic chemistry at ungodly hours in the morning.


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