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Updated: Dec 20, 2020

Artwork by Michelle Dong, staff artist

the newspaper lands at my doorstep,

crumpled up and ink bleeding from the rain.

it stains my hands black and seeps under

my fingernails. no amount of scrubbing

will wash it away, so i unfurl the paper

and i skip the obituaries but stop on the

third page where i recognize the name of a

high school a friend of a friend goes to,

and i read:


someone once told me,

or maybe i read it in a book,

that a bubble surrounds you

until you’ve grown up, and no

bullets or ex-boyfriends or aluminum

baseball bats can touch you. i’m not

sure when the bubble bursts, but,

apparently, it is before seventeen.

my cat paws her way to my lap, and

i scratch her head out of habit.

yesterday was her eighteenth birthday,

and she threw up all the treats she used to beg for.

the vet says three weeks, but as

her eyes droop and heart meanders its way

off rhythm, i pray that the bubble lasts

a little longer than it did for the

girl in the paper. i’m not ready.

i suppose no one is.


Michelle Dong is 14 years old and is from New York. She loves programming, design, art, and music. Her passion for website design and research led her to qualify for nationals at NHD, which is situated in Maryland. As of 2019, she won the Lowell Milken award grand prize for her website about an unsung hero, Caroline Ferriday. Her hobbies for art and music have led her to become a late-night doodler and an avid earbud breaker.

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