by Michelle Zhu
Art by Allison Li
Issue: Scintilla (Spring 2019)
At dawn, they bloom. At the crossroad between the morning of the next and the dawn of the before, they rise out of their bud, small petals blossoming with every second that comes and goes. Their sand in the hourglass is limited, and small grains are already falling through the inbetween. Here they stay, living, breathing, and blooming.
Her desk’s light glows like a firefly in the midst of summer. The bags under her eyelids grow darker and darker, an obvious sign of the time—2:46 am. Her grip on the mechanical pencil loosens every hour, her handwriting appearing closer to hieroglyphics than anything. Around her, everything is murky and slow.
Her eyes trail from the study guide in her hands to the morning glory buds growing outside her window. They haven’t bloomed. They sit patiently, resting upon sparse vines clinging onto an old brown fence. She’s never caught them with their petals spread, only seeing them wilt away to brown, saturation fading. She wants to see their royal purple in the morning.
She sighs and buries her face into her palms, leaning further back into her chair. She rubs her eyelids and tells herself she’ll take a five minute break. Setting a timer on her phone, she tucks herself snug into bed and closes her eyes. She drifts through the in-betweens of consciousness and the presence of deep sleep, constellations blinking in the darkness of her vision.
When she wakes up, her sentience is less murky than before. Her room is no longer shrouded in heavy shadows casted by her lamp, but rather, her furniture is now illuminated by the sun peeking through her window. She checks the time. 7:52 am. School starts at 8.
A heavy wave of realization washes over, and quickly, she is up and out of her bed. Her feet pad along the wooden floor of her room, collecting the papers strewn across her desk and writing supplies that lay astray. Panic rushes her as the hour hand slowly nears eight.
She in running out of time.
Her eyes wander the room, searching for missed items. Quickly glancing outside her window, her hand lingers on the zipper as she takes in the sight—
The morning glories she had anticipated so much: dead, brown, and shriveled.
They dangle, hanging onto vines with their petals slumped over, barely attached to their core. Their buds no longer fresh and purple like the night before, but rather, they are shade of a weary, tattered, and old library book.
She sighs and looks down, and with reluctance, slips her backpack over her shoulder.
These are our salad days, the days of our youth, slipping through the spaces between our fingers like sand falling through the cracks of time. They bloom when the sun meets and spreads across ocean, but with uncertainty, while we waste them away under heavy textbooks and layers of notes, they slowly disappear, leaving no trace of pixie dust behind.