by Maya Sabatino
Art by Megan Xu
Issue: Paracosm (Winter 2017)

It was the second week of summer break and everyone was outside enjoying the weather. A young man stared out his window, pulling open a crack between his blinds. A blade of light cut his bedroom in two. The light stung his eyes like a biting wind and it kept him blinking, trying to see outside. He glowed unnaturally in the light: anemically, with skin like fresh-fallen snow and hair dark as the winter solstice night.

His eyes adjusted to see the heat of summer—pavement refracting like water, ice cream cones melting and beach-goers tanning. He could “taste the feeling”, like a summertime Coca-Cola commercial. Yet, he preferred the snowy scene with white polar bears, fizzing bubbles and the big man in red.

He looked at the glowing blue screen of his computer and than back out the window. He thought about how his thermostat was at a crisp sixty-five while the beach outside was sweating at ninety. He was happiest indoors.

His computer continued to load. The white spinning wheel resembled the first snowflake of winter in a pristine and untouchable blue sky of pixels. He people-watched for a while, staying far away from the glass of the window, as if he would melt under the shifting golden rays.

A group of surfers caught his eye as they strolled out to the glittering sand. He knew them from school. They were kids he didn’t want to see—kids he knew but they didn’t know him. The kind of people who were right next to him in class, but somehow in a different world.

Holding their boards, they looked like colorful June bugs bobbing precariously across the hot beach. One appeared more graceful than the rest—she was a yearling amongst newborns fawns in the spring. He knew her tanned face and naturally sun-bleached hair. She was in his grade and they were in several classes together. Her name was Sonny. She smiled playfully and laughed with her companions.

She was everything high school should be: fashionable, flowing with the trends. All the glories every kid dreamt of after watching High School Musical. She was in student government and on the cheer squad and dive team. The teachers and students loved her. She was a shining student: always raising her hand or volunteering to help others. She seemed to know everyone by name. She was sweet as lemonade in July—simply refreshing.

He was average, in the ensemble in your childhood recital. People took him for a Goth with black clothing and chillingly cold stares. He had a fascination with the Internet and peaceful indoor practices, like card games and chess. He was a decent student, praised for his deeply emotional poems (one poem, especially well remembered, was about a dead sparrow in January). But primarily, he went unnoticed. He was hail falling into a rainy street and a fog shrouded forest—darkly melancholy.

He could not keep his eyes off of her.

He watched the kids from school paddle into the ocean, looking like birds floating on the blue waves with white peaks—clouds. Birds migrating away, he thought.

The computer opened with the holy restarting sound, and yet, he didn’t notice. Even when his frosty forest background appeared and the applications rebooted (even the horror video games), he was unaware. It took the magnetic tone of a Facebook message to finally tear him away from the window, thoughts of Sonny forgotten in a second, like forgetting the warmth of summer in the cold of winter.

Days went by and he lived in his snow-globe world, not once glancing outside to look for surfers. They too remained living within the walls of their sandcastles.

But one day, while he was deeply immersed in a Gothic mystery novel, he heard the chime of his phone, startling as a cracking iceberg. The screen lit up his face frostbite-blue as he read the text message:

            Kaze, I saw you texted me last night
            But I couldn’t come, thank you for the invite

Kaze felt a shiver run up his spine. Had he accidentally invited her to his Slam Poetry Contest? He had.

Her name was right below his best friend’s in his contact list. He closed his eyes, thinking of less terrible days in which he had made less horrible blunders. Breaking his left arm and losing his laptop were comparably better times.

He forced his fingers, frozen with embarrassment, to type in words. Any words.

            No worries. I just thought I should ask you
            Since you said you like to read poems, too.

What was he saying? He had no idea. Did it sound cool? Again, he had no idea.

            Did you win anything? I want to know.

            Nah, I won a match but I’m bad with rhyme.

            What was your poem’s theme? Was it good, though?

            Nostalgic stuff and the end of all time.
            It was okay, I guess, not my best lines.

She didn’t respond, and he relaxed. She might as well have been a different species than him, and he was happy the encounter was over.

            Is becoming a poet your life goal?

            Nah. Without money I don’t think I could.

            I feel you, life is beyond our control.

            I know, but you’ll do fine in adulthood.

            Well, maybe… I love biochemistry
            But my mom wants me to be a lawyer.

            We are the same. You will be unhappy
            And I will be without an employer.

            I got it: I’ll do science and you can write
            Together we can save the world from some
            Nostalgic stuff and the end of all light!

            Ha ha ha, okay we’ll show all of them.

            Yay! But gotta go! Message you tonight?

            Oh! Bye, and definitely it’s alright!

Alright… he thought and smiled.

The brooding and icy poet had just made a seemingly impossible friend in the smiley, beachy biochemist.

For summer to exist, there must be a winter. The same goes for spring and fall. If there was just one, there would be no seasons. Just weather. Boring weather, at that. In the same way as seasons differ; people are unique from each other; a one-of-a-kind snowflake, or a one-of-a-kind grain of sand. But differences are necessary. Opposites too. And often, they attract.

A person dressed in black sits in darkness reading a book, with two rays of light piercing the darkness.