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Artwork by Helen Liu, staff artist

The leaves are changing again. I recall last fall.

I want to go back and watch the sunset

Behind the motel that always kept

A couple parked cars, travelers, and marigolds.

If I could go to fall two years ago, I would’ve told

Myself that she was worrying about nothing at all.

But she was right all along. Love was golden.

She climbed the wall in front of the motel

To watch navy eves and cars fly by and go

When there wasn’t a soul on the road.

She’s a clumsy fool with a messy mind and she’s afraid she’ll fall off the wall.

I’d tell her to save every drop of courage because she’ll need them all.

Reach for every moment,

Pick up the phone ringing in your pocket

Because the future is calling.

She hangs up and she’s locking the apartment door.

She’ll be back because there are still marigolds growing on the balcony floor.

I can see them from inside the parked car in front of her doorsteps.

While I wait, I rest my wrists on the steering wheel.

I’m still learning to trust these hands.

Days turn like wheels, palm readings become too real.

When she comes out to the bite of the fading wind on her nose,

I roll down the windows.

“Hey, get in the car.”


She leans over as if she has some secret to tell.

But she punches my shoulder gently

When I put on my seatbelt.

“I’m proud of you, kid.”

She has painted gold clinging to her neck and a wicked grin against her cheek.

I thought I’d have more to say to my future self.

She’s holding the stick shift and turning on the radio as well.

I tell her, “I hope you have tattoos and tricks up your sleeves.”

She looks at me. She already knows me

And how I used to read the last pages of a book before the first.

She didn’t choose to, but she too knows the ending before the beginning.

“You know it. But first-”

She almost points but she’s reconsidering,

Her hand sways to the beat of the song playing instead.

“Keep an open heart for what’s ahead.”

We’re on the streets and it’s the two of us travelers.

The fast-tempo, rhythm, drums, and baseline all a blur.

I open my mouth, “Is it....”

The wind drowns out my voice on the open highway.


The leaves along the road are a kaleidoscope of orange and gold flying away.


“Not at all,” she whispers. But, her grip digs into the leather that’s already starting to fray.

“Where are we going?”


Her eyebrows furrow, she’s looking out to the road.

She looks like her, the girl about to pull out of my driveway this summer.

Across the accelerating distance, she shouted back when I shouted that I loved her.

“I think... we’re going home.”

And we drive to a land held by none and no land at all.


But I’m right here and there’s still a long way to go.

I’m not in the driver’s seat nor shotgun by the window.

I’m watching the blue dusk embrace golden

Sunsets alone on the overpass.

There’s a burning orange I follow

Through the trees past the cars as they thunder by and pass.

It still feels like I’m the only soul on the road.

Embracing golden alone on the overpass.


Helen Liu is a seventeen-year-old Chinese-American from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. When she isn't swamped in schoolwork, she likes writing late into the night, playing piano, trying her best at watercolor, and spending time with friends. Also, at any given time, it's more likely she's listening to music than not. Though her stories and poems are often focused on her personal passions and struggles, she also takes inspiration from her favorite pieces of literature and important current issues.

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