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Life in the Lighthouse by Lena Foster

Symptoms Include Forgetfulness

by Ava Rukavina

The girl staring at me in the rear-view mirror is one I have never seen before, and not just in the sense that she is closer than she might appear. Her almost smiling lips are a rather brilliant shade of peach, though their texture wouldn't have you believe they were anything other than raisins. She's dehydrated. She must need water- I mean, I must need water. She's me, the doctors told me to remember that.

          My pupils are green or gray or an unsaturated brown maybe? I wonder if it's normal to forget the color of your eyes. She's tan with clusters of acne along her jaw. Her hair is pulled back too tightly to be sure of the texture, but it looks like a darker color, slightly damaged, maybe from a few coats of hair dye. Together, her features sing a soliloquy that is slightly off tune, but joyful and passionate nonetheless. She is  I am kind of pretty actually, and that feels good.

          Someone says something.

          It wasn't me, the mirror-girl's mouth didn't move.

"She is gorgeous. Like she walked straight out of a renaissance painting kind of gorgeous."

          I look to my left. There's another girl in the driver's seat. She's sad. Sad and beautiful. Her nose swoops elegantly above her lips, which are the spitting image of cupid's bow. Her raven hair waterfall-flows out of the top of her head; her eyes are similarly dark and tragic. She looks at me and tries to smile. She fails. She is gorgeous. Like she walked straight out of a renaissance painting kind of gorgeous. I don't think girls in the middle ages had quite as many piercings though. I want to ask her out. Now doesn't feel like the appropriate time, as indicated by the mascara running down her cheeks. She taps rhythmically on the steering wheel. ls that my name tattooed on her wrist? Who is this girl? What was it she said again?

          I love you.” Her words are choppy and wet, and her shoulders are sunken down so far they're nearly at her stomach. “You don't have to say it back if you don't want,” she sniffles.

          “I don't,” I mumble. I regret it immediately.

          She thinks it's a question.“Yeah, no you don't have to say it. It's fine I know that you

          “No, I'm telling you that I don't love you or at least I've forgotten how to.” These are not my words. Not my words and yet my vocal chords are vibrating in tandem with each syllable. I think I have just fallen in love with this girl, I didn't mean to say that.

          I swear I didn't say that.

          She stares at me. I don't know what to call the expression she is making. She is fighting something inside her. I think I hurt her. It's not my fault. It wasn't me. I didn't mean to do it.

          Instead of getting upset she tries to reason with me. “You can learn,” she offers.

          I don't say anything. I think this is my decision, I'm not really sure, the silence I'm sitting in could just be a coincidence.

          She sniffles again. If she gets any more sorrowful she might burst at the seams and start spewing salty tears all over the interior of this car. I want to make her happy. I try to smile. She returns it this time, I’m not sure if it is out of pity or love. Maybe she’s finding the hopelessness of her situation comical. It occurs to me suddenly that I don’t know what her situation is exactly. I don’t know. But I can feel it.

          She's still facing me. She sighs, a cloud of coffee stained breath and vague familiarity exits her mouth and slowly coats my face. It feels rejuvenating. There’s something romantic about this whole thing. I lean in to kiss her, she looks mildly surprised, slightly giddy, and embraces it.

          Her lips taste like home.

          “Let’s go,” she says, and I remember.


About the Writer...

Ava Rukavina is a junior, currently attending Oakland School for the Arts. While she specializes in fiction, she also has tried her hand at all sorts of genres, including poetry and creative non-fiction.

About the Artist...

Lena Foster is a current 9th grader at DASOTA. She loves ballet, painting, and writing.

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