claim me as one of their own, not ready to give me back to the universe just yet. My sleeves come down past my wrist, and I splash some water on my face. Louise is outside the door, knees no longer bleeding and bandaged up, a frown on her face. “Yes,” I say, after she asks if it’s true that I’m ready to go. “Come or don’t come, but it’s late and I’m going. I have a long subway ride ahead of me.” I sidestep her to leave the bathroom doorway. Greg, like magic, materializes beside Louise. He tells me that I can crash. I can crash. At the sight of my face, he quickly adds that we’ll just sleep, obviously.
dead. As still as the stars in the night sky appear to be. I feel the blood dripping, probably staining his shirt. I feel bad—he’s so nice—but I can’t move. Am too numb to move. To let go. Too afraid of what’ll happen if I step back and let the universe wedge its way between us. So I don’t move. And stay there, hugging Gregory Cole from AP Physics, and wonder if my dad is out there in the night sky somewhere, recycled into the stars. by Nwakego Nwasike
“Obviously.” Louise cries out after me once I’ve turned to leave. She says I’ll regret missing the eclipse. “I don’t give a fuck about the fucking moon, Louise,” I say, near hysterical. I don’t wait to see or hear Louise’s reaction—I just go. Go, as fast as my shaking legs will take me. Past the drunken people, past the door, down the stairs, outside. Outside, where the cold air is a slap and freezes the tears on my face. “Anna!” I groan, I sigh, I do everything to show my annoyance. “Look, Greg—I’m not interested, so please, just stop. Just — leave me alone.” My words stops him in his tracks. He throws his head back to let out a heavy sigh. “You know,” he says, “I used to wish on those stars every night before I went to bed.” Now it’s my turn to sigh. But, for once, I’m listening. “I used to wish that, just once, you’d turn around in physics and look at me. Really see me, you know? And not even talk to me. Just see me. And smile, maybe.” I’m incredibly aware of both my blush and the wet, trickling feeling of blood at my wrists. “Did your wish come true?” He smiles sheepishly. “No. Not that I can remember.” “Sorry,” I say, insides feeling a little loose, a little shifty. “I wasn’t much into boys back then since my dad worked at school. Too awkward.” “You mean you weren’t into awkward, super-skinny, pizzafaced boys like me.” The blood drips slowly down to my hand. I don’t respond. “I’m sure your dad is pretty stoked for the moon tonight.” I shrug emphatically, exasperated. Greg gives me a funny look in return, takes a few steps closer. I’ve started crying again. I want to tell him that I’m fine, that everything is fine, but the words are trapped in my throat and choking, and garbled noises are all that come out. He closes the distance between us to wrap me in an awkward, hesitant hug in which our middles barely meet. I try to be good — try to let someone comfort me, as my therapist tells me I should. So I don’t move. Am as still as the 56 | Prose & Poetry
NYU's premiere arts & culture magazine presents its 5th volume, the prose & poetry issue!