Rida Khawaja | Art by Allison Huang
Like a star, I come and go. I disappear within the trees just like the twinkling pearls
above, retreat in their blanket of shadows. I fade into the jade backdrop of the tree canopy
decorated with fragments of sunlight. I move with the moonlight, waiting, waiting, for the glorious
sunlight, which illuminates the valley at the softly glowing twilight. I can hear every bird chirp a
lovely melody slowly merging with the creek’s gurgles, and the wind’s blissful serenade creating
a jubilant symphony. Every evening I rinse my hair in the ever flowing creek and let the breeze
dry the water, carrying every trickle, every droplet away; just like a dandelion's delicate seeds
travel along the breeze. Then as the clock of seasons turn, waltzing with time, winter draws
near. Slowly, the frost spread over the mahogany-brown forest floor like a lucid coverlet. The
nights morph into lustrous silver petals, filled with twinkling stars. Shards of stardust are sent
down in luminous, golden earthshine. I wait, forever waiting.
But you wonder, what could I be waiting for? What would I need to wait for? Oh, yes I
can see you. Your eyes hungrily searching this page and your mind wandering to my leafy
paradise. Yet you do not see, what this place has truly come to be. A stark white page, plain as
an eagle’s feather. Brutally unchanging. The black ink, a constant reminder of the shackles
keeping me bound to this very page. I am lost in an obscure storm of murky black and white.
Clouding my foresight, hindering me from the ability to fight. The thickening black ink from each
letter pours into my mouth, clogging my throat, choking me. The world ever so opaque, my
vision is constantly blocked by the perfect script typed along this page. I can see you staring at
me, still wondering why I would want to break free? Look around you, don’t you see? What my
so-called “ethereal heaven” has come to be? A prison of torment. The fluttering birds, crow and
taunt me, their beady red eyes a constant reminder of the ruby red sunset which I can never
see. I am trapped here for eternity, in a morose, nebulous nightmare.
Who put me here? The jailer. With his dull yellow staff and a spear of obsidian. That’s
who. He conjured these cuffs, these prison bars. He took this this severely white cell and took
out his staff. He plucked me from the air as I was innocently wandering above his head. He
dragged me into the cell, and locked me here, drawing locks with his despicable staff. These
locks appear as words to you, but they are my reasons for everlasting solitude.
But still, you and I are one and the same, though you may find that hard to believe. Can
you not see what your world has come to be? I am locked behind pages, you are shackled by
your fears of others, of the iron grip of social norms. You fear talking to the person sitting next to
you, knowing they would all deride you for it, their eyes gleaming with scorn. You and I are one
and the same, yet so different. You are the jailer of your own prison, holding you back from
yourself. You fear raising your voice, imagining the words and malicious cackles of enemies that
would shame you. Don’t force yourself into that horrid trap, break yourself free. Please, I beg of
you, live a life of freedom…before it's too late. I am here to teach you about what you could
really be. There will be words that peck like the beaks of crows or stares by scornful eyes that
may make you feel like you are choking on black smoke. However, if you look around, with
fearless eyes, you will see lustrous petals gracefully pirouetting across the boundless sky.
Watch for the ruby sunset as all the colors swirl into a velvety morning glory and remember me.
For I can never leave, I am imprisoned, a mere character trapped in a book, but you still have a
chance to be free. Do not fade into the jade backdrop out of fear, but instead emerge in
spectacular triumph, remembering me.