Bethanie Lee | Art by Anton Zhou

Are you awake?

Its breath shakes the ground I lay on, mocking the voice of a man. Tell me if It is real or It is mine. I can only hope…But I know It is beautiful because it is a vision reflected from a mirror I’ve sculpted with anguish and anger at the world I’ve come to hate, which has turned it alluring. It makes a sound that creates and takes away breath, reflecting off the walls and echoes through this–

World? If this is a world? Something intangible, a feeling? In the absence of light, in the absence of It, there is only darkness. A prison of timelessness. And one vision I see, weaving Its way through the reminders of mortality. It is painted in crimson, in this monochrome life. I find myself reaching towards it, my subconsciousness pushing forward. Then, I hear a snapping sound, and I am sucked back into the black.


I open my mouth to speak, but I am unable to form words. I nod. I feel a shaking beneath me and for the first time remembered, I fear. And in that moment, I find myself pleading.

Let me stay. I will do anything! Up, there is nothing left for me. Here, I am free!

It laughs, a sound which ruptures all that is real and physical. Greater than me, greater than all, greater than reality. Not real.

Are you sure?

I find my voice. Yes. I croak.

Careful dear girl, one more time and you are mine forever.

Its hand wraps around my throat, fingers clutching my mouth open, shoving piece after piece of the past down my throat. In a second, I live in the past. Where I am shoved to the ground over and over with bleeding knees and bruised elbows, all for their satisfaction. Where I am crying because I bleed and no one will bring me a bandage, all because they are too busy laughing. The darkness forms into a smoky shroud. For a second, I feel the warmth. Surrounding me, wrapping around my limbs. A comfort I cannot give up.

I am yours. I breathe. It laughs, and I know I have not failed.

In the midst of the black, there is a pinching white. It cuts the air out of my lungs. It does not love, It only hates. But I have been long used to the dark.Why is it that I cannot remember any other feeling before it?