Our house is slowly falling apart. Roof tiles float away and I say hello to the sky. I don’t remember when the sunsets started to make me ashamed. I used to go outside in the cold and walk until I felt naked, the moon a huge beam against my throat. The emptiness back then felt delicious. Now I look into the eyes of people like I don’t know them anymore. I used to guard myself so jealously—I thought that meant I was interesting. I thought that way I could be loved, if I made people search for me, spilling little truths from my mouth like crumbs. I don’t know how I got here, standing on my dying lawn, cradling a plastic takeout bag in my arms. I can feel heat from the Styrofoam containers beating into my chest. I know how hungry I am. I’ve forgotten how to eat. I wish I were a child again, delicate in sleep, maybe even beautiful in the absence of light. Dreaming of the only thing I’d ever wanted to see. A kind of forgiveness. A silence. A witness to tell me that I should have been there.

Alison Cao is a creative writing student at Milton Academy. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She currently lives in Irvine, California, where she is social distancing with the rest of her family.

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