My breath fogs up the window glass and my frigid, fully gloved hands are twitching inside of the torn pockets in my favorite jacket. The horizon doesn’t shine here anymore. Darkness gushes through my skin like a waterfall, and I’m left wondering where I went wrong with life. You see, a stranger to you is an acquaintance, but a stranger to me is what I am to myself. I don’t expect you to understand. I’m standing underneath a half light with a hood over my head, and you think I’m beautiful. At least that’s what you told me that night when we were laying in puddles of wood and staring up at the stars under your balcony. You held my hand and made it feel warm. I remember you asking why I wore gloves all the time. I thought it looked cool, but really, I didn’t like my hands. They held so much disappointment every time I’d use them as a tissue for my eyes or a matter of strength to hide the fact that I’m afraid of my past, present and future. You kissed them, and you said you loved them as much as you love writing poetry and drinking tea, and I remember laughing with tears in my eyes and my voice was strained because you made me indescribably happy. I don’t wear gloves anymore.
My heart beats at the pace of my aqueous footsteps and my body is turning into an island. Underneath that half light, you see me as your mysterious, lovely miracle, and I always brush it off. I always brush you off. You danced with me that night to Green Day playing on the speakers, and you told me that I should join ballet because whenever I’d twirl, I’d have this sparkle in my
eye. I denied it since I wasn’t pretty or talented enough to become one. I wasn’t much of anything but you still thought that I was incredible. We went into the kitchen late evening and made cookies with the wrong kind of salt and wondered why they were so bitter tasting, but you said you loved them because they came from me. I wonder more now if it was that you loved the
things I did or the things that made me.
My breath fogs up the window glass, and my frigid, fully gloved hands aren’t warm anymore because you aren’t holding them. You’re off trying to make somebody else happy because you aren’t happy yourself. You weren’t pleased with my choice of morning cereal, or how sluggish I seemed whenever I wanted to do nothing but watch American Horror Story all night long. I’m standing underneath that half light with goosebump-covered arms and fear-driven eyes because I’m alone and you aren’t there to tell me there’s nothing to be afraid of. You aren’t there to protect me or to tell me that I’m beautiful even with this hood over my head and mascara stains on my cheeks. You always thought I was beautiful with messy hair and nothing but baggy clothing on. I know you don’t think that about me anymore. I know that whenever the seasons are mentioned, you change the subject because someone might say my name. I know that you’re scared that the world will call you conceited for loving me in the past, but you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
As soon as people opened their mouths and mentioned how wrong it was, you changed and you left me. Maybe that’s why the horizon doesn’t shine here anymore. You became just like the darkness because you realized that you are me, and you forgot about the night we laid underneath the stars and you told me you loved me. I wish you still did, but a stranger to you is an acquaintance, and a stranger to me is what I am to myself. I can no longer love a stranger. I’m not sure if I ever really did to begin with. And I remember staring up at the stars and washing away the pain that I felt and I grabbed your hands and said, “Autumn, I love you.” And I remember you breaking down and saying, “Autumn, I can’t love you back.” But maybe one day, you’ll come back with your heart in your hands and you’ll offer it to me. I don’t think I’d take it, but it’d be nice. It’d be nice to love you again.
Autumn Webster is eighteen years old and a writer of nonfiction, fiction and poetry.
Art can illuminate even the most elusive and difficult to comprehend ideas. Visual rules and tightly codified visual metaphors help scientists communicate complex ideas mostly amongst themselves, but they can also become barriers to new ideas and insights. Dr. Regina Valluzzi’s images are abstracted and diverged from the typical rules and symbols of scientific illustration and visualization; they provide an accessible window into the world of science for both scientists and non-scientists.