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  • Vy Tran

Microcosm - Vy Tran


Deprivation made her life an imaginary thing, her days a ribbon floating aimlessly in water. The world made her life precariously balanced, its relevé very much a teeter-totter—unstable, ungraceful—that ribbon pirouettes. And it leaves her mind with hazy silhouettes.


Today has become another day.


She would gladly try to start off on the right foot today (for once) and think of that day with the typical cliché she often read in books, saw in movies, heard in songs: “The rising sun was gorgeous, its rays burning and illuminating everything in the cloud-filled skies,” or somewhere along those lines, but when she looks up, it’s quite the opposite. The skies she is now accustomed to are dreary blank canvases, with the exception of scattered smog and smoke as clouds, mimicking splattered black paint. The dark mountain landscape from afar might be daunting, but the brighter skyscraper silhouettes were even more menacing.


She walks on with an unappealing stride, somewhat urged by the relentless morning frost nipping on her nose, ears, and fingers to hurry the fuck up before she gets trampled and buried beyond recovery. School’s harsh, and even still, its schedules are more unforgiving—bustling. No doubt that if she was a step too late, she’d reap those consequences—the types that would even send the most nonchalant hearts into a frenzy of nerves. Even so, her movements are rather unhurried. Certainly, she wouldn’t survive the city life.


Then again, the streets here are opportunistic and tense, leering and drooling even more so at a girl walking alone, regardless of the time of day (even in bright, early morning, too—sheesh!). Maybe she should hurry it up? It would be quite inconvenient to get kidnapped and disappear without a trace. Or unless, maybe…?


“Hey.”


She barely nudges her head to the direction of the voice, the sudden needle pricking that suspended bubble of timelessness. Her eyes are the only indication that she is listening to

whatever he has to say. She still walks on, though. Her shoes had memorized the bumpy texture of the cement en route to campus, after all, and her grip on her backpack strap had instinctively tightened as if she could will herself to walk even faster.


“It’s been a while, huh. I mean—haven’t seen you around. What a coincidence we’re walking together again, yeah?”


“Yeah, I guess.” She sighs that languid sigh, clouds escaping from her small breath. He laughs a heartier sound to further wedge himself into conversation, a quick release of exhale that resembles the intricate blobs and waves in nihonga art.


“So how’s school? How’s life? All that.”


“It’s been fine.”


“Oh yeah?”


“Yeah.”


She consciously opts to go for a friendlier approach with a small smile, but no one likes the look of cracks on ceramic; it’s just not meant to be. She drops the attempt to take faster strides, still as ungraceful and awkward as always. Not like she owed him anything though.

“Must be tough being so studious and smart or whatever, huh?” It’s a loaded question, she knew, for he was waiting for her to slip up somehow and find new ammo for him to mock her in some way about being a stick-in-the-ass. Perhaps it’s just some sadistic fun—people tend to find the activity of singling out others who are just trying to make a place for themselves a bonding icebreaker. To rip out the rug underneath them and watch them fall… that has always been an inevitable part of human nature. But she knew better than to be careless and fall victim to it again.


That boy… he’s done it to other students, and he’d do it again with her if he had the chance.

“It is,” she replies, a bit too casually, though, and he raises his brow in an amused manner. “You should be taking things a lot more seriously. I don’t like the classes and all, but you’re in school for a reason. You might as well.” Both wait at the crosswalk—silence; though. one of them is mentally begging for the red glow of the stoplight to flash green already. The cars finally line up with a patient, low rumble of their engines, signifying the pedestrians’ turn to cross. She likes the cars: they’re signs of people, and having people from a close-far distance means she won’t get kidnapped in the streets anytime soon. It’s comforting in an odd way. She walks with a more confident stride, head held up high as she steps on familiar cracked concrete over the sidewalk ledge. Unfortunately, her peace is cut short when another pair of footsteps next to her reminds her that she wasn’t exactly alone in the way she wanted it to be.


Left, right, left, right, left, right. Keep a steady pace on walking, and you’ll get somewhere, someday.


“Nah, come on now. We’re young, we have plenty of time… We hangin’ out right now, and besides…” His voice cuts through the sound of car engines and zooms.

We’re not friends… is what she wanted to spit out, but she’d like to think that the mind speaks louder than the mouth. Even if she did say anything, that guy would never leave her alone. He hasn’t for years… Why would he change his mind now?


Nah… don’t be like that, he would insist, we’re good homies. So she opts to bite her tongue instead.


It is at this point she is more focused on the sky of luminous gray ahead of her (not failing to notice the lines of the LA cityline poking the bottom of the atmosphere), tuning out his rambles and pretense of friendship. He sure talked a bit too familiarly when they were only ex-classmates from years ago. Dreary clouds are nicer to pay attention to, now that someone right next to her is barging in with a type of clarity that grates on her mind. She frowns. Perhaps moving into Los Angeles after graduating wouldn’t be a good idea if random people would try to talk to her like this while she was walking. Places that are too quiet are equally grating…


“... anyways, alright—I see my homies over there. See ya.” He bolts and jaywalks across the street to his actual friends, and she does not hesitate to openly roll her eyes. It appears that the sky was to her as she were to him: convenient distractions, even if they were dreary and bland.


A pivot of the foot to the left to turn to face the front of campus. An autopilot stride forward to the gates. The bell marks the start of the day, reinforcing and fortifying her haze, a constant buzz in the background. It’s obnoxious, but it’s relieving and therapeutic in its own sense. People rush to get past those gates—a blur of scenery that she cannot and does not try to tell apart. She stands still for a moment. Another sigh escapes her lips into faint wisps to join the stratus above her. She has yet to survive what today has to offer.


Unfortunately, today will just become another day. And it’s only a preview of the inevitability of life in the city once she graduates in a couple months.


Today will just become another day for the next four years.


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