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Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Artwork by Aldwin Li, staff artist

i’m starting to think i might be psychic. see, right now it’s 5pm on a dreary monday and i am sucking on the bitter end of a citrus rind, but in years past i have taken this expanse of reality and whittled it down to a single piece of twine that i wrapped taut around my middle and index fingers—

listen. two months ago, we were walking in parallel down the asphalt roads of bone-dry arizona, where fresh paint peeled off cracked concrete walls within the hour. you had phoned me earlier in a panic and said that no matter how you looked, you couldn’t find yourself in the mirror—at least, not the self you were used to. we walked past the local supermarket and the centuries-old church on the corner of the sidewalk as you detailed the demon sitting on your right shoulder. there’s like, a hole, right here. you pointed below your heart. you know? i’m just not happy anymore. i played the role of a friend and listened, though i had noticed all this before, due in part to my psychic abilities and in part to your disappearance at random intervals. the last time i visited, your apartment was perforated by the stench of expired alcohol and strewn with angry glass shards—we had been down this road before. this was the image that would come to me later, rewound and pasted onto a too-bright movie theater screen. this was the tipping of the balance beam as you rearranged the placement of your burdens. this was the day i told you i would no longer be your only lifeline, and walked away.

two mondays ago, as we walked to your car, i smelled tequila on your breath. how has your night been? i asked. and are you going alone? you stood stiffly beside me on the blacktop pavement as i dialed a taxi. you said you were okay, that you would see me tomorrow, but someone had blown fresh pain into your eyes. i said nothing, yet when you left i saw in my mind’s eye—windshield glass and siren shrills and all the pretty colors: crimson red and periwinkle blue and more. your figure, puppeteered by some invisible string an arch-length away. your form, splayed across asphalt. i mapped the trajectory of your flight through slow-moving air molecules and etched it into my brain. we got the call the next day. mama blamed you, and honestly i did too. moreso i blamed myself. at breakfast i made light conversation, masquerading under the guise of normality, and tried to explain my supernatural abilities—i sought respite, knowing that i hadn’t prevented the inevitable. mama called me crazy and slammed the door, leaving me with half-scorched potatoes and a vacant hollowness in my chest. i peeled another citrus fruit to quell the subtly growing hunger pains.

it’s monday again. now, there’s another me in the bathroom mirror. her edges are crinkled like day-old christmas wrapping paper but her colors are more vibrant. she watches as i shed my skin on the marbled tiles because i am not comfortable in it anymore, and as i smooth out the riverbeds eroded into my cheeks. she watches as i wrap twine around the circumference of my wrist, leaving a ghost-white imprint. she watches as i fold myself inward, pulling thoughts from the lining of my cranium as if they are something tangible i can hold onto. these are thoughts of yours—your idle laments, your oscillating remarks on existence—that i compressed into my brain in attempt to make them my own. i wonder if the girl in the mirror is psychic like i am. was it on purpose? what was on your mind? it is dead winter everywhere but here and i am pressed against cold linoleum, wondering if she knows how long it will be until the end of this hibernation. if i sleep, dial down the incessant pitch of my brain, will the world stay rigid on its axis? i can no longer tell.

and so i find i am psychic, but only in few cases, and only in hindsight: these are the little white lies i tell myself. see, there is no fortune telling, no prophecy from the clairvoyant: there is only guilt, broken twine, and a citrus rind sucked dry. there is also the girl watching from the mirror. as i am sinking, i wonder if she will stay.


Katie Tian is a fourteen year old from Jericho, NY. She enjoys writing in multiple genres of creative fiction, and she has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is inspired by the world around her and takes ideas from her own life to include in her writing.

Aldwin is a wannabe artist from Hong Kong about to be dumped in the deep end of his first-year English literature course. On his quest to become a writer-artist he unfortunately has yet to retreat into a mountain hermitage, perfect his craft and forget that everything exists. He has attended programs at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and Iowa Young Writers' Studio, but for the most part he is a self-taught dabbler. (Becoming a mountain hermit will have to wait.) He seeks to express through art and writing and help others do the same, almost as much as he has a slightly unhealthy addiction to self-deprecating dry humour. In his free time he does anything, from performance martial arts to creating fictional languages to playing jazz piano. He probably needs to drink less coffee.

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