I Lost Me In You

Written by Anjali Pandey

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

I always knew she was like fire

Still, I let myself burn in her heat

Sometimes, she was like water

So, I let my soul quench its thirst

When the roots of love

settled deep inside my heart

she left me in pieces, shattered

just like broken glass,

Did not keep her word, promised

She would be beside me forever,

Memories of us haunting me in flashes

Never thought she would burn me down into ashes,

Even now I wait for her,

Let bygones be bygones, it’s all a lie

She will never know, for her

Lonely at night, I still cry.

Anjali Pandey

Anjali is a young and bright writer from India. She was born and raised in Delhi, and her ancestral home is in Uttarakhand, India. She has a lot of potential in her and is just kick-starting her career as a writer. She is already the author of her ongoing novel – ‘When Two Worlds Collide’ on Wattpad. She also has been showcasing her writing skills on her recently opened Instagram account ‘write.out.loud.04’.

Gen Z: Life Happens, We Can Do Anything

Written by Cassidy Jackson

Photo by Sane Sunny

I  discovered the wonder that is Tumblr many months ago in the middle of the pandemic. I couldn’t have been happier. My real-life best friend convinced me to make a blog to support her blog in case hers went bust. It never went bust and I have been following people that reblog or post content that tailors to me and my interests specifically. I have decided to learn more about the world and help people try to understand all points of view.

For example, I recently came across a post a mutual reblogged, talking about why life feels pointless from a gen zer’s perspective. One person reblogged with a summary of them seeing a lot of teenagers losing hope because of what we see all around us, every day of every year. They stated it’s hard for teenagers to comprehend a better life because we have watched the world crumble before our eyes. We have watched animals and plants become extinct. We have watched the carbon levels rise at alarming rates. We have watched as the oceans have continued to become more polluted by the second. We have watched school shootings and terrorist attacks happen worldwide. We have watched countries condone behavior similar to what the United Nations feels is morally and ethically wrong. The pessimism and hopelessness have grown with each passing day. 

While my parents call me pessimistic, I actually have a more optimistic view than most gen zers. I still have hope (though goodness knows how) because gen z can change the world if only people would understand we have grown up with the world already in peril. This is imperative to understand because, without this understanding, there can be no cooperation or change happening as new issues arise. Those born after 9/11/2001 have grown up with that day looming over us like a storm cloud not willing to break and see sunlight. The past must be remembered, but it must also be a catalyst for change. The coronavirus, instead of being seen as a beacon of understanding, has been the cause for more unrest here in the United States as well as the death of George Floyd.  I am extremely tired of hearing about another school shooting or another attack on an Asian American or black person. It is an almost weekly or monthly occurrence the gen z in America have gone numb to. Going numb because of highly inappropriate acts is absolutely horrendous because these acts are not something to ignore, but to fight against. There have been skirmishes and other conflicts involving issues such as these, but why now? Why is it that when people have had enough, they fight back? It happened with women’s suffrage and the Civil War as well as the protests against the Vietnam and Korean War. Not only are we taking action, but we are more active than most people believe. The technology we “are addicted to” makes us feel we are a part of something even if it’s posting a post from Instagram on our stories, liking a post on any social media or even talking about things the last century would say is taboo. We are more connected now than ever which means the world should be heading in the direction of inclusion. This is not the case. The world we see is getting worse. The climate is worse than we could have ever imagined. The brutality towards people who don’t look and think like us as a society has grown tenfold in the last year. Astigmatism towards those in the LGBT+ community is still here and it has gotten marginally better in the United States, but in other countries, we still see the astigmatism is very real. As we see all of the horrible things happening in our country we like to call home, we believe we are alone. You are not alone. There are thousands, if not millions of gen zers who feel like you do. We want a world full of inclusion and solidarity, but instead, we get a world full of hate, separation, and grief. 

We don’t always see a way to fix it. We grew up in a broken world, ill-equipped and undereducated as to how to fix it. We can try but in the end… I  feel a sense of dread because the nature I grew up playing in is disappearing, the ocean I grew up swimming in is more polluted than ever, and the carbon emissions in the air are climbing higher and higher each year. How does one generation stop the world from ending? 

I am heading off into the world to become a marine science researcher with a university to study the effects plastic has on octopus and squid species. I know what humans have done to our beautiful home, yet I remain optimistic because I truly believe gen z can change the world. We are stronger than our parents believe us to be. We have all heard of Greta Thunberg and her work with the climate. She is only eighteen years old. We have all heard of the Parkland shooting in Parkland, Florida, but there is a movement that sparked because of a group of six survivors of that horrendous day. X González (21), David Hogg (21), Cameron Kasky (20), Jaclyn Corin (20), Sarah Chadwich (19), and Alex Wind (20) all decided to start the Never Again MSD. Cameron Kasky decided to start the movement, but he needed help so he enlisted the help of his friends in its early stages. NeverAgain supports the idea of the Holocaust and Armenian genocide and so much more. This is the kind of inclusion and knowledge we all need in our lives. They are bringing up issues long since tabooed and hushed over. No more will that happen. I have included the link at the bottom for you to find out what the organization does for you. In my research, I have come across a child who, in 2019, at eleven years old, is openly lesbian. I don’t know about any people who identify as lesbian out there (I’m totally straight), but would you feel comfortable enough to come out before you got out of primary or elementary school? Ella Briggs lives in Connecticut and had decided she’s going to be the first openly lesbian President of the United States of America. Not only is this a huge step for the LGBTQ+ community, but society as a whole. If one little girl can come out in elementary school, the world must be doing something right, right? We can all agree these are gargantuan leaps we have made as a world and society, but there is still so much needed to do.   

No matter where we are in the world, we can all agree on one thing: the world needs our help. We see no light at the end of the tunnel, but we forget we are the light at the end of the tunnel. Together we can change the world for the better one step at a time. The sense of dread, the hopelessness we all feel, the need to stay in bed and hide from the world, I feel it too. I would rather stay hidden with my laptop and books while other people fight the battle I want to fight. I can not. I have to force myself out of bed in order to go outside and enjoy the nature I took for granted when I was younger, but I know better now. I was not born a soldier, but I will wage war on what seeks to destroy our earth and our future. 

As I grew older and started understanding the world around me, the sense of dread I have started from what seemed to be nothing. It started as a whisper and then grew into a cacophony of thoughts. It has spread through our generation like a plague, a darkness that knows no bounds. I have had to learn to push these fears in the back of my mind. I have not learned yet how to push the fears away. The dread is always lurking as well as the doubt. Will the world right itself after hundreds of years of advancement? Will the world become what it once was when there was more green than concrete? Will the world ever go back to appreciating nature for the beauty within it? Can we turn back on the light? 

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I hope the answer to all of those will eventually be yes, but first, gen z has to be able to stand up and stand out for what we believe in without letting other generations get in the way. We are the future. Let us determine where this world shall end up.  Get involved safely in protests, marches, student council/government, clubs (start one if there isn’t one, specifically in the change you want to see in the world), and anything and everything you can to see the change you want in the world. Remember, every little bit helps. If we act as one, we are numerous. If we act together, we are strong. If we act now, there may be a chance. But only if we act. So I ask you. Act. 

Links to resources mentioned in the essay:

Tumblr Post

NeverAgain

11-Year-Old Lesbian

Cassidy Jackson

Cassidy Jackson can be found reading in her favorite nook or writing her yet to be finished novels in her room. She enjoys writing and reading because there are worlds she can go into that are old friends to her. She wants to change the world with her writing.

Split

Written by Duckie Harwell

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

I grew up in a gaping wound

Jagged, bloody, deep.

Some say my mother did it with a knife

Some say my father did it with his teeth

Some say it happened the day I came

That I ripped them right in two

Because I came out sideways

And my chest beats out of tune

Its pumps are made of mold

the chambers full of clot

And when it beats it makes a sound

That makes you think of rot

So you see it’s not my fault

That my family tore apart

They were looking for a suture

But infection’s in my heart

Duckie Harwell

Duckie Harwell resides in Fort Worth, Texas where they are taking some time off from college to pursue publications in both prose and poetry. They have a keen eye for detail and a clear, unique voice. They have a passion for reading, writing, and helping authors works blossom into beautifully finished pieces.

Activism at The Grassroot Level

Written by V.S. Nilanee

Photo by Sane Sunny

“Be the change you want to be.” A sentiment that is so easy to say, and yet so hard to actually be.

Less than a couple of years ago, the LGBT spectrum was just a word for me, a word that vaguely carried taboo implications. Until. Until that fateful day that expanded my horizons. I  decided to ask my friend who identified as FTM what that exactly meant. The conversation that followed opened my eyes, quite literally, to the spectrum of gender identities that exist, those that most of us are either unaware of, or have a prejudiced understanding towards. It started me off on a journey of discovery, including self-discovery, culminating in me tentatively beginning to identify myself as a heteroromantic asexual person.

Anyway, I digress.

When I began exploring the topic along with my friend, I was shocked at the depth of the misconceptions I carried, to say the least. For example, I had thought that transgender people and intersex people are the same, that being trans was a psychiatric problem, and so many more wrong things besides.

The good thing that came out of the talk I and he had was that I decided to, as so often held by adults I’ve known as the right thing to do, “be the change”. I thought it was easily achievable. I mean, how hard can it be for one person to come around? Besides, the picture I saw on the internet, barring some outright hate, seemed a fairly rosy one to me. So many celebrities, so many ordinary people, seemingly spoke out in support of LGBT+ people!

Alas, I was yet to learn that ‘internet activism’ is actually something that exists.

So, naively, I reached out to many people who ostensibly stood for ‘equality’, and I talked to them about educating others, one by one, about the LGBT spectrum, to remove the taboo aspect of it. I was sorely disappointed at the response I got. Most of them, educated people, even doctors, those who belonged to my own family, were absolutely horrified at the idea of me having a trans friend and considering that normal. For they considered it a ‘biologically unnatural thing’. Some of the celebrities I had so admired as being LGBT+ showed their own biases, their invalidation of certain genderqueer identities. Where did the ‘equality’ they ostensibly practice go then? Does it not include trans and other genderqueer people? It should!

In this quest of ‘being the change’, not everything is so bleak. I did find many like-minded individuals, people who were proud of their identity, people who, like you and me, probably, were trying to do what they can.

But, here is where a big obstacle comes. Unlike what we may first think, it’s not the outright haters that are the biggest chunk of the so-called ‘opposition’. It’s the people who are apathetic, unless they are personally affected by it. When trying to give a particular issue legitimacy in the eyes of the society at large, at truly the grassroot level, laws help (see: the abolition of section 377) as does active canvassing among the people. But what to do of the people who just refuse to see that an issue exists? What of the people who normalize the ridicule of people dealing with identities different from socially normalized cis-het identities?

Unfortunately, the reality of today’s society is that making fun of genderqueer people is normalized. Perhaps that is the reason why those of us who are genderqueer take so much time accepting ourselves.

Speaking as a person who identifies as asexual, I can tell for a certainty that I had a nebulous idea that I might be asexual.

However, I refused to give credence to that idea for a long time. Why? Peer pressure. Even though I was open to accepting others’ identities, I struggled with my own. It won’t be too much of a stretch to say that I still struggle with it. Again the question of ‘why’ arises. Because when I say to someone I know that I do not feel sexual attraction, the usual response I get is “But it’s normal to feel sexual attraction.

You’re a human girl, right? You’ll have to feel it someday or the other, otherwise, you’re not normal. You can’t be a child forever.” This statement is usually followed by laughter and jokes about ‘being Peter Pan’ and other such ridicule.

Frankly, who wants to be labelled ‘abnormal?’ It’s a human desire to fit in with something, fit in somewhere. So I suppressed my identity until I couldn’t anymore. Until I found someone who was willing to accept that yes, you don’t have to feel sexual attraction to be a complete human being. For those people, I am extremely thankful. Here’s where grassroots activism can help. Just like me, there exist a lot of people facing (worse) invalidation in the everyday world. People whose very identities are being bandied about as insults, people who feel like they are less than others because they are different. In a world where the world ‘equality’ is a catchphrase, this cannot happen. It is a wrong of the worst kind. It snatches away their fundamental rights. For every human being has a right to live, by extension, a right to their identity.

I say we mobilize people and spread awareness that a variety of identities exist. Just as sexual education is slowly becoming compulsory in schools and wider organizations, so should educating the public about the spectrum of different identities be incorporated into the system. Only when this is widely accepted shall we have an equal world on this score.

Until then, all we can do is one thing. Raise our voices as loud as we can, as often as we can. For every small step counts. A small step for you and me can make a big difference to someone else. What matters is that we be the change we want to be.

V.S. Nilanee

Aspiring writer with a kaleidoscope of varied dreams and opinions. Outspoken introvert. Unabashed idealist. Passionate about words and their fluid meanings.

How to Mourn

Written by Ava Krahn

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

It was the brink of night when Ariadne died, between sunlight and midnight, when the moon was a circle of candlewax against a cobalt sky. She stung her finger on a kerosene lamp on the way down. Tumbled off a paisley armchair she’d claimed since childhood. Landed on the creaky pine floor that she’d tiptoed on her entire life to avoid the squeaking. You tried to wake her at first, listened for the tremor of a heartbeat, a whisper of breath, but there was nothing.

A year later, you water your plants and celebrate the anniversary of your sister’s death with a tear it took twelve months to weep. Your family always accused you of not caring, and you always told them it was a grief deeper than tears. You left shortly after, packed what you could fit into your school backpack, and vanished. Before sunlight braised the sky, laced through curtains and miraged on floorboards. You borrowed Ariadne’s car, never brought it back. It wasn’t like she needed it anymore.

And now you’re here, tilting a tin watering can over the windowsill, hoping the water reaches the plants but watching it dribble to the floor instead. You haven’t thought of Ariadne for months, you’ve hardly thought about the family you left behind. To you, they’re just faces with frayed edges, hazy in your mind, like you never knew them to begin with. Maybe you never did. You fleck water against the window, and it mimics the raindrops that nibble the glass.

You wonder where Ariadne is now, how far she’s gone and if she’ll ever come back. Maybe she’s in Africa or Switzerland, travelling the world like she always wanted to. Drifting into the night and blurring with the northern lights, chewing mouthfuls of dandelion fluff, stealing wallets and watches and wedding rings because no one will ever catch her. Or maybe she’s suffering more than you are, wandering the halls of the house you haven’t set foot in since you left. Maybe she’s a lost ghost tangled in the roots of an ash tree, maybe she isn’t a ghost at all.

Sometimes you wish you could see her again, talk to her again. Even about something mundane like the weather – the raindrops that fritz on the window, the sunlight that scalds concrete, the shadows that gauze your kitchen floor. You want to speak, maybe she would listen if you called for her, but the words are like a dragonfly wingbeat on your tongue, and you hold them in.

You let the watering can clatter from between your fingers, and water flutters from its spout and pools around your ankles. Ariadne always used to do that, when she was angry. Dropped whatever she was holding and hoped she wouldn’t have to clean it up after. Maybe that’s how she died, letting go of something she shouldn’t have let go of. You’ve never wanted anything to do with her before, but something calls you to join her, and it both terrifies and fascinates you. Maybe the space of a year was sufficient to distance yourself enough to care about her again. You wrench open the window, let rain tsunami into the kitchen, coil on your skin, soak the plants until they wilt, fill your eyes and lungs and nostrils until you suffocate or grow accustomed to the pain.

Maybe you’ll let the rainwater drown you. It’ll clog your lungs, seep through your chest, and this quiet house will be your resting place. You can see it clearly, the freedom of drifting out the window and tangling in mist. You’d meet Ariadne somewhere on a mountain slope and let a hurricane frost your marrow, or on a desert island where you’d eat mangoes and bury yourselves in sand.

You settle on the cold tiles. Even now, the water trickles between your fingers and mingles with your hair. Maybe if it rains all night, you’ll drown here, and be on the news in the morning. A face underwater, a girl with a watering can, dead but still alive.

Ava Krahn

Ava is a teen writer from BC, Canada. She writes literary fiction and enjoys very pretentious, flowery prose. When not writing, she is probably having conversations with herself out loud, reading half-attentively, or scrolling through Tumblr. She prefers to do all these things when everyone in the house is asleep.