It is Life
by Ava Devenitch
You like to visit the art museum downtown, the plaster gallery in particular, the molds from the 1800s of statues made when Latin was beginning to tumble its way off into its death just to be revived by those obsessed Renaissance men. You think of your sister then, who says you taking Latin class instead of Spanish for your required foreign language is useless (People actually speak Spanish, but you’ll have to go to Ancient Rome to have a conversation in Latin. Do you know how little rights they gave women there?). Maybe she’s right, because this is your third year of it and as you look at the inscription on the plaster mold statue, you can only translate two words: vīta (life) and est (is). It is life. The whiteness of the plaster is so stark it’s disturbing, utterly blinding. Drift around the room then stop at the cast of Michelangelo’s Moses. Will he not reach those unsettlingly strong hands out and strangle you if you get too close? Will the Madonna a few feet over looking with strange worry down at the Jesus in her arms not release herself from that unstirring state to cry to you and get on her knees to save her child if you look with too much sympathy? Are these not corpses that are waiting to come alive if you’d only unblind yourself and give them the permission to?
Your grandmother, then, five years later, your grandfather. The only funerals you’ve been to. They surely weren’t real in their open caskets. Moses is much more real than they were. The second time you were almost worried you wouldn’t cry and would appear heartless. You had already done this once, at the same funeral home, with the same people. Maybe you only cried the first time out of shock. No - death never seems to lose its novelty, its true value, the way it veils itself as an emotionless apparition, but as you move closer, it blackens its body, grows gnashing teeth; a monster that lurked in childhood but never bit coming out to play, lurking after the first night it entered into your consciousness, lurking in illnesses matched with the belief you conjured that they could only have one end. The end was always too close. The end was the atmosphere atop the mountain, where there seems the slightest separation between your fingertips and the air like a quiet entrapment of skin, so close to enveloping everything. Does it make the living worse? The fear in it is constant, and therefore often disguised, but not gone. You stared ahead at the funeral, eyeing the casket instead of the body, sitting next to your pregnant sister and trying not to look at her bulging belly in the black cloth of her dress and pretending not to be aware that her sobs had the same carefully aggressive quality as yours despite the 15 year age gap between the two of you. Your shared harsh emotions are one of the few things you share. You’ve never been close, and how much of that is your fault? As your winter coats rustled against one another, heading in a weeping formation outside, in the mid month midday of March in upstate New York, you could feel the snot in your nose freezing over, and you looked at your sister’s hand that had quietly been placed on your back when both of your sobs had built to their highest point during the ceremony, so that they almost echoed off the burgundy carpet that smelled of cheap flowery perfume and mold, and wondered if she had now become alive to you. You were pulled away from this thought, interrupted by your uncle handing you one of the blank bullet cartridges that had been fired in the gun salute honoring your grandfather.
It sat in your coat pocket the rest of the day, you occasionally fidgeting with it, pressing into the metal that pressed back too hard.
Ava Devenitch is a student at East Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts. Her writing focuses on short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction pieces that explore issues such as mental health and adolescence.
Micayla Latson is a senior at Savannah Arts Academy. At the Arts Academy Micayla is a Visual Arts major, who has been dedicated to art her entire life. Currently during her time at Savannah Arts she has produced many pieces, some helping to spread awareness to various issues in society. Although not pursuing art in college she still hopes to be making art in the future and wishes to spread impactful and powerful messages within her community using her artwork.