“Metal Memories” by Saanvi Gutta

A whisper blew through the bare trees as a foggy, lonely mist settled around the forest. Small creaks and hollow moans echoed across the empty playground as the breeze drifted by. A summer taste lingered in the sky, contrasting the cold sweat the mist left behind.

Whirrrrr. A small robot rolled into view, clean and white. Little lime and cyan lights flashed on its body as it traveled around the rusted, brittle metal playground equipment.

“Rover!” called a young voice. A girl came running after the robot, wild black hair rustling in the wind. A blush crept over her ears, cheeks, and nose, bringing out her pale complexion.

The girl stopped short, glancing around the clearing. Her eyes widened.

“Rover! Avoid the metal!” She pulled her shirt up to her nose to prevent inhalation. Cautiously, she approached the slide.

Remnants of red paint hung from the rusted metal, clinging for dear life. The metal was all bent, and though the metal must have been smooth before, it was all rough now.

“Detecting uranium,” said the robot. “117 years.”

The girl shook her head in dismay. How would she search in this contaminated place?

Closing her eyes, she envisioned a little boy sliding down the polished red slide, squealing with laughter. A little girl, straining from the effort, would be hanging from the sturdy blue bars. And a little babbling baby with a cute pink dress, pushed by her tired but happy mother, would be on the creaky swing. A few kids by the colorful swinging horses mimicking neighs and shouting cowboy phrases as they rocked back and forth, and there’d be some older kids digging in the dirt, getting it all over their fingers and pants.

All these people would be spending time in this playground. But they can’t anymore. Sighing, she turned back around, pulling her shirt back down.

“Rover! Let’s go! It’s not here.” With that, the girl began walking to where she came from, with the little robot following closely at her heels.

“Faceless” by Saanvi Gutta

I can’t see their faces.

Blank heads without features,

Without eyes,

Without ears,

Without a nose,

Or a mouth.

They can’t see me.

They can’t hear me.

They won’t be able to catch a whiff or feel my aura.

They won’t be able to speak to me.

Although,

It’s hypocritical to ask for them to,

When I can’t do the same.

I can’t see, hear, feel, or speak to them,

Because just like I can’t see their faces, they…

They can’t see mine either.

They can’t see my face.Fa

“Dreams Make” by Saanvi Gutta

They say clouds are made from dreams.

But I don’t think that’s true.

Colored white like lies and

Covering a sky so blue?

 

They never stay long,

Always on the go.

They bring horrid rain, hail,

Misery, and cold snow.

 

What kind of dream

Would such a tragedy be?

I think the sky is what holds

The dreams of you and me.

 

The sky is always blue,

Unless it’s the end of day,

Then it explodes into color, 

Like paint on a blank array.

 

Even if it’s dark,

It lets the stars glow and shine.

It’s a never-ending expanse,

That withstood the weight of time.

 

Head above the clouds?

So that head can see the sky.

Even our old proverbs,

Tell us the clouds lie.

 

We made a sky,

Of hopes and dreams.

Clouds are just doubts

Of what they all mean.

“Just me, I Am” by Anushka Yerramareddy

She just so happened to be there that day,

as I was taking a stroll around Glenforest Bay.

So I decided to go and greet her there,

and I told her my name was Sally O’Hare.

 

“Nice to meet you,” she said with a smile,

and she claimed she had lived somewhere near the Nile.

But of course I knew her words were lies;

she was a pale little thing with ocean-like eyes.

 

Yet I dared to ask, “Who are you, ma’am?”

And she replied with, “Just me. Just me, I am.”

“Just Me,” I addressed her in a mocking way,

“will you be here tomorrow, right by the bay?”

 

“Of course,” she answered with a sly little grin,

and off she went, with a small tilt of her chin.

So I came for her the very next day,

but Just Me was nowhere in sight at Glenforest Bay. 

“Snow” by Keerthi Selvam

Snow, soft and white, blanketed every inch of the forest, yet snowflakes still fell incessantly upon the ground. The woods were perfectly still, save for the crunching of footsteps made by a girl in a hood.

Her breath was visible as she climbed up the frosty hill, shading her eyes from the dazzling colour of the snow. Finally, she stopped at the very top with a sigh.

She knelt down, and with her bare hand, dusted the snow off of a gravestone. Without even looking at the inscription, she recited in a soft voice, “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.”

She paused for a moment, silently reflecting upon something, and then lowered her hood. Perched in her auburn hair was a single red rose, which she gently removed and dropped onto the grave.

“Happy Birthday, Little Brother,” she said aloud, letting her gaze settle on the flower. “How old are you now? Twelve? Wow.” The girl let out a breathless laugh. “You’re growing up so quickly.”

She paused to tuck a wisp of stray hair behind her ear. “I’m doing okay. Winter is always a little bit difficult, but I like seeing the snow. It reminds me of you. Do you remember that snowman we built, about six years ago? He was the ugliest thing on the face of the Earth. Of course, I couldn’t tell you that back then. You adored him.”

“In case you were wondering, Miles is doing fine. He’s still eating everything he gets his hands on. He’s seventeen times fatter than he was when we found him, which is good, but I miss having a kitten running around the house.”

A single tear slipped down her cheek, but the girl hastily brushed it away. “I miss you. I know it’s been four years and that I should move on, but the house is so, so quiet. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.” She stopped for breath and looked at the epitaph with pained eyes. Voice breaking, she whispered, “You weren’t supposed to join Mom and Dad yet. You were supposed to stay with me.

“I’m sorry for failing you.”

She dropped her head, burying her eyes with her sleeve. It’s no use, she thought. No amount of wishing will bring him back.

Suddenly, she heard a soft voice in her ear. A voice she hadn’t heard in five years. 

“It’s going to be okay, I promise. Please don’t cry. I’ll wait for you, no matter how long it takes, and one day we’ll see each other again.”

The girl spun, and for a split second, saw the smiling face of an eight year-old boy. Then, as soon as he had appeared, he vanished, leaving the girl alone in the forest once again.

A Poem by Saanvi Gutta

What’s the word?

For when the floating lightbulb

Glows above your head?

When you revitalize into life,

From the struggles you’ve faced being dead?

When you’ve figured it all out?

A golden, victorious moment,

And the excitement to just shout.

It makes you feel warm and proud,

And clears your vision like a sky,

Colors revealed by an unknown shroud,

That you never realized covered your eyes.

It melts away your panic, your fear,

All you anxieties just … disappear.

The name of it, I can’t recall …

Eureka!

I’ve got it.

The Dying Season

By Anushka Yerramareddy

First one fell, and then another

And the tree was losing life.

He looked to his right, at his dying brother

And his friends; even his wife.

Then the wind blew the flakes

So far, far away.

Away from the clustered rakes

And the wind continued to sway.

So the barren tree stood,

So leafless and dying.

He was stripped of his golden hood,

And so he continued his silent crying.

TREES OF FIRE

By Anushka Yerramareddy

I first saw them on an evening stroll

They were quite a sight, I must say

Such that their beauty truly touched my soul

As the wind had made them sway.

 

At this moment, I came to a sudden halt

And I began to jump high, and higher 

You see, that sort of beauty was not my fault

And I began to jump, trying to touch the trees of fire.

 

They were so wonderful, so golden and bright

And all I could do was stare in awe

A camera could never capture that sort of light

As the leaves had no flaw.

 

Yet my height prevented me from doing so

And I stopped jumping higher

Then at last, I let go

I left them, my cherished, beloved trees of fire.

 

The Curious Case of Percival Wright

It was 10 AM when Dr. Browning watched the cadaver disappear into a metal tube.

Ten hours later, she was having dinner with him.

“So, what it like?” she asked, leaning forward eagerly.

“Which part?” the former-cadaver in question, Percival Wright, teased. “The dying part, the being dead part, or the coming back to life part?”

“All of it!” Dr. Browning grinned. “Your experience is remarkable.”

“You know, all the details are already in the report Dr. Metrich wrote. Asked me every question under the sun. And wrote down every answer.” Percival shrugged tiredly. Already, fatigue was wearing him down.

“I understand, but I would also like to collect information firsthand.” She smiled. “Excited to get back home?”

Percival nodded eagerly. “My girlfriend. She’ll be so excited to see me. Does she know I’m not dead?”

“She was the one who volunteered you, so she’s most likely been informed.” Dr. Browning looked down at her plate.

Percival’s face lit up. He reached into his pocket, presumably to get his phone, but looked confused when he came up empty-handed.

“Your phone was destroyed in the accident,” she explained.

Percival nodded slowly. “Dr. Metrich said my brother was driving?”

Dr. Browning held back a sigh; of course, Metrich would use the same cause of death each time. Constraints mattered, even if they were dull.

“You know, it’s quite strange. I … I don’t remember much of anything, but whenever someone says something, it feels like it clicks and makes sense.” He looked stricken for a moment. “I can’t remember my girlfriend’s name.”

“Maria,” she supplied.

“That sounds right, but … would it really matter what you told me?” Percival’s fingers danced on the table, making a weak attempt to mask his heavy breathing.

Dr. Browning cocked her head to the side, observing the way Percival’s eyelids seemed to be drooping, despite the fury that swept through the rest of him. “Is everything alright, Mr. Wright?”

“Nothing should make sense, but it does!” He stood up suddenly. “You – “

The table rattled as he fell against it.

Dr. Browning sighed as she watched the man collapse to the floor.

Fourteen hours later, Dr. Browning watched Percival disappear into the metal tube.