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The Stars


By Thanisha Chowdhury

Because I have nothing, every morning is the same. I pull weeds from the garden and fold them into the thin lines of my pockets. I don’t empty them until I go to bed; dandelions, milkweed, crabgrass spilling out onto the nightstand. They tangle together like snakes, crane their necks toward candlelight until I close my fingers around it. By morning, they are always gone, back in the soil where I found them.

It is not easy, sleeping next to something I know will not last. But this is the only way it has ever been. Often I wonder whether time is passing at all, or whether I am living the same day over again, year after year. To test this, I draw a blade across the back of my hand in the fragile light of dusk. The next day, a scar blooms on my skin. The weeds grow just the same.

Still, I pull them from the earth. Weigh my pockets down so I may convince myself of an anchor. It is easier to understand change in a forest than a plain. The flatness of this land terrifies me. How it stretches into miles and miles of absence, but no, absence implies there was once something present, and this ground has never bore anything but dust. Sometimes I will leave with a quilt around my shoulders, walk and walk and walk. There is nothing, no one. There is the house, there is the garden, there is the wind, and there is me. I find myself, every time, on the opposite side of where I began.

I confess: That was not wholly truthful. I am not the only one here. Some days I will find little things scuttering alive among the plants. A mouse, a bird, a rabbit. I close my arms around them, take them inside, feed them, nurse them. I have become skilled at calming the terrified creature. I fall asleep on the porch chair, rocking back and forth with their weight in my arms, the rise and fall of their soft backs against my chest. When I wake up, I am cold and my lap is empty.

Soon I become consumed with bitterness. It turns to rage. It turns to hatred. I tear every plant out of the garden and set the rest alight. I stand in the emptiness and pound at the earth. I scream like I am not human, like the voice tearing from my throat is not mine, and every time I must stop to take a breath my lungs fill with the cold reminder that I am still alive. The next morning, they stand just as tall as the day before, as if to say how close, as if to say try again.

I am getting older, but the world is not. I am not moving through time; time is moving through me. No, time is making a cocoon of me. Time has burrowed into my chest and named my flesh a fruit. Time’s eggs lay dormant behind my ribs, growing, pulsing, feeding. Every night, I wait for them to hatch.

Thanisha Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi-American writer from Northern Virginia. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writings Awards and she is the EIC of Paper Crane Journal. When she is not writing, Thanisha enjoys playing the Sims 4 and crocheting frog hats.

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