by Ai Li Feng
Ai Li Feng is a 16-year-old writer currently located in New England. Her fiction is published or forthcoming in perhappened mag, Parentheses Journal, and Waxwing Mag. She likes persimmons and pink dragonfruit. Find her on Twitter @ailiwrites.
"I am afraid to own a Body."
All I want is a body that isn't mine. Instead, the evening wrapped around me
like a coat, one size too large. The faint scent of fabric softener in every fold
of sky. I want to be gentler with everything that I touch. Still, the hard
half moons of my fingernails and the echo of each crescent carved into my skin.
In the street, a crowd of shadows searching for a body. A place to call
home. I round my palms into the receiver of a pay phone and dial
to the sound of my own voicemail, soft with static. Hello. No one is here.
Only the girl in the glass of the storefront windows. How I hollow my throat
into anything empty enough to hold her and seal my lashes shut. In my dreams,
I am a dancer. My body capable of so much beauty. The stage director turns
the wind up key and I start to spin. In my dreams, I am not afraid of light,
and every truth that it forces me to tell. What I mean to say is that the dark
allows us to be anything, even beautiful. Still, I open my eyes to the glow
of a gas station glancing my face, yellowing my cheekbone into an old bruise.
On the sidewalk, my shadow. The echo of a body that I don't want to call
my own. I am trying to be gentler with myself but hunger is a language of hard
lines. I suffocate every streetlight in order to soften this light. To sheathe
this hurt like a blade. When I say that I love you, I mean repeat after me.
I mean that sometimes I scream just to hear an echo. Anything that returns
to my arms. Listen. The sun slipped into the city and swallowed every shadow,
left me alone. It is morning, and I have been looking for ways to leave
my body behind. I opened my eyes and grief gowned me in gold. An old
wound. Please. Pick up the phone. Repeat after me. I am trying
to believe that love is a synonym for despite. All I want is a body
that isn't mine. Your shadow still and soft with silence beside me.
You don't have to be beautiful. You only have to be here. I promise.
I love you too.