perihelion (n.) the point in orbit closest to the sun
The sun caresses your skin, kisses your cheeks, the tip of your nose, and your heart thrums as warmth massages life into your cold, stiff body. Slowly you open your eyes, your vision awash with light.
As you are clasped in the sun’s embrace, you know that this is where seeing and believing can coexist, for it is the sun’s watchful gaze that brings the world into crisp focus. Without the illumination of light, all life would be hindered by blurry vision. For who can trust a blind man to choose the right path?
So you stretch out your fingers and let heat dance across your pale fingertips. Leaning back, you allow the sun’s rays to fall over your form like a golden covering. You close your eyes. Though you see nothing but darkness, the warmth of the sun reminds you that you are at perihelion, so close you can touch.
Your arms feel free in the air, as if they had been held underwater for centuries. In deep breaths, you take in the wind, and let it sweep your senses to the heavens. You hear the whispers of monsters getting married and flinch as something pinches your finger. You see your past friend running through a field of flowers, and your future one standing by the river. And all these sights and sounds are looped together in a ring around the sun, suspended in orbit.
In the light and in the dark, we all walk the same circular path. The cold exists, but so does the warmth, now shining on your back. This warmth will reach those who walk and those who wait, but it is never there to stay.
The present is brief. In a flash, it is gone and you are left to continue your journey in the dark.
aphelion (n.) the point in orbit farthest from the sun
You try to go your way, but the darkness holds you back. It rises from the ground in tendrils and pulls down your soles. Desperate and strong, they reach up your ankles like little hands, electing a new leader and drowning in their passion. In waves, the dark swells, and you can feel the tension of the abandoned engulf the space it had so long been denied. The beat of their voices match the thump of your heart. And the stars above you become eyes, the liquid pools of the willful dead.
Something in you wants to join them in their anger, to consume all around you and surrender to the void.
You had been unconsciously moving away, straying from the unconquerable light, and as you shift into the vast distance, feeling your way around, time shrinks, days shorten, the simmering summer on your skin cools, and all there is is the immense emptiness ahead of you—you cannot fill it, you cannot feel it, you cannot—so all you can do is sift the darkness ahead, fingering for what little of brightness you can and for what little you remember of it. What is it like? What does it look like? You cannot see ahead of you.
But you know that you can reach aphelion, and turn by some magnetic force, turn and see how far you’ve gone, just as you have before. And at this point, when you are the farthest away from light, you are no longer lost and can make your way back, closing the distance in this lonely orbit.
You can return to the sun—you know this—because you always have before.
—the Editors, Spring 2016
Table of Contents
Stephanie Lu: Empty
Bobby Ma: Helplessness
Raksha Narasimhan: in a rush
Jenny Wu: is something better than nothing?
Sally Kim: minute 514 at night
Aileen Lu: Nocturne
Marilyn Zhang: Palettes
Chris Wang: passing peach pits
Chris Wang: peachy keen
Joyce Zhang: prelude
Julia Jin: Sky Blue
Alina Ying: Submerged in Cold Water
Cynthia Li: the lobster on my finger: a sonnet
Andrew Kou: Thud
Katherine Xiao: To Those Forgotten
Asma Mammootty: A long piece of string
Irene Han: Resuscitation
Niyaza Mammootty: A Spirit Abandoned
Saniya Doshi: Born Bloody
Blair Chen: Dead Ringer
Esther Kao: Democracy
William Guo: Gems of Karth
Alyssa Zhang: his name was fin
Christine Cheng: If Only
Caitlin Leong: Spellbound
Tiffany Tzeng: Tempus Fugit
Katherine Hu: The Price
Maya Sabatino: Undead Family Tree