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“unfiltered” – Yun-Fei Wang

i wake up. there is a thick layer of glass on my skin. like a hollow seashell. like a bubble in the shape of riverbeds. like a leather jacket.
the end of dark tunnels lead to places i recognize. this one leads to the school hallway. i remember my locker passcode but the lock turns into a chain.
i remember the passcode because it is your birthday.
i know this hallway. it’s the one you walk through every friday at 1:15 in the afternoon. the same high heels echo the hallway. when i think about your heels my thighs burn. i wonder if i am merely an echo too.
for a moment i'm convinced that the numbers 115 mean something. but they only tell time. they don’t tell me anything.
i enter the classroom with a broken clock. time only exists as stars in your eyes.
glass tightens around me.
the air vibrates into a bell. they sound like waves crashing shore.
i look down at my wristwatch. like i always do. because i don’t believe in bells. i always think that someday sooner or later they’ll be wrong. i find that i am not wearing a watch. so i look at my wrist instead.
there are scratches. they are linear like how time is supposed to be. they are the color of your lipstick stains. i am trying to remember the serial number on your maroon tube of lipstick.
glass tightens around me until i don't recognize my own skin.
the scratches don’t disappear. i remember a blade running through me and your fingertips tracing down my spine.
i do not know where i am. so i fall to darkness.
i wake up again from glass tightening around my skin. i think this is a punishment. because i had wanted you. because it shouldn’t hurt this much if this wasn’t to punish me.
i follow the dark tunnel. it is longer than i remembered. my memory is off. i push down the door handle and the door opens for me. i learned this the last time i was here.
the handle is rusted. but it does not stain my hands through the layer of glass.
i do not remember why i am here, nor how to leave. maybe i don’t want to leave.
i am in the classroom. there are 5 rows and 6 columns of tables. i know this because i have been here for three years. i know where i sit. it is in the corner, the one furthest to you.
embedded in the floor are seashells made of porcelain.
i remember things. i remember a heart-shaped locket against my neck and i remember a heart-shaped bruise.

the bell rings again in the same vibrations as last time. like a wave rippling through a calm surface.
i am beginning to think that it would end the same way. i hope it doesn’t. i hope it never ends.
the door opens.
for a moment i think it is you.
a mannequin enters the room. i am not afraid of the dead face. i am only scared that i have lost you forever.
i stand up in the seat. the ground gives away underneath me and it feels like stepping into the ocean.
i am still alive, floating in air.
i wish i had known how to float. i could’ve been alive. but the past is dead.
someone shows me the way out of the classroom. beach pebbles scatter the hallway floor. i am still floating.
once the door closes behind me i fall back to the ground. there is still glass underneath my feet but i cannot feel it. someone shows me a new hallway i have never seen and i think it is strange. i have been here for three years.
they lead me to a white room. there are no clocks here. the walls are lined with cabinets. one of them is empty. there is something covered in white sheets on a white table.
i recognize the outline but i pretend i don’t. i lift the sheets and it is not you. your skin is sewn on a dead body. i wish that was me. your face is pale blue. it is your favorite color. the color of clear waves and foamy tides. i do not question why i know that.
they tell me you are gone. i don’t believe them. you’re still here. in wisps of perfume stinging my lips. in the ghostly nails that trail across my cheek. in the smirks that come when the locket necklace tightens around me.
i am not afraid.
my fingertips slit through your skin. it is liquid. it holds shape in the starlight of my dreams. i think about drowning in your cold beauty.
there is a dagger on the table. a rose is tangled on the handle.
i think about doing it but i am afraid. there is something familiar in the air. it is thick with salt, as if i was in front of an ocean. i am afraid.
so i swallow the blade instead, handle and all.
i wake up in darkness again. i cannot bear it. i am losing you. i am losing me. but i know neither of these people. the water’s edge lifts up high. it is going to crash down any time.
i am running in dark tunnels. i am feeling. i am remembering.

i run into the lockers. but i do it on purpose. a crack forms in the glass. i smile. but i am not happy. i do not know why i am smiling. i throw myself against the lockers. again and again. like rumble fish.
the glass shatters. i fall to the ground. there are numbers that i recognize on the metal lockpiece. the classroom clock starts ticking. but it is too late.
it takes me a moment to process what is happening.
i am lying on the floor and you are on me, more beautiful that i remembered. your knees are bruising my hip. i recognize your perfume. it is suffocating me like your painted nails that i have once mistaken as rose thorns. your hands digging into my stomach. you are wearing a leather jacket. splatters come off really easily on that surface. i remember now. you and your metal chains.
your breath is rushed and uneven. you are sitting on my thigh. your heels press into my skin, kissing scars on to me. rose vines lift up the hem of my school uniform. my skin has been replaced by bruises of every color. i have been here one too many times. i like the scent of your perfume because it reminds me of heaven. you lean forward and i think of nothing. i think of nothing because my everything is next to me.
the tips of your hair are red. i do not understand. your favorite color is pale blue.
there is a dagger in your right hand and a chained locket in your left. you crush the metal with the fingertips that once held me hostage. i am starting to remember. but i am afraid of the past.
i have died in the past.
there is blood on the dagger. from the tip all the way to where the handle began. it is all red. i am confused. your favorite color is pale blue.
there is a cut on my chest. it is as deep as the dagger’s blade is long.
i think i understand, and i am very, very afraid.
it was never an ocean. i remember the white porcelain and the seashells embedded in bathroom tiles and how i dyed them red. i remember the tipped-over bottle and pills on the floor like pebbles. i remember drowning myself in the bathtub, lungs expanded and burst and soapy water spilling into veins on the night you sent me to exile. i remember wanting to be painted your favorite color.
i remember.
i like sunsets because they look like the bruises in my neck. i remember leather jackets from when the gold-lined zipper cut through me and your nails blooming roses on my skin wherever you touched. i remember the kisses of you stilettos heels tearing me open and how the heart-shaped locket necklace tightening around my neck was nothing but metal chains.
i never fixed the classroom clock because i had wish it would never enter the time when i had to break myself in front of you to know who i am.
i remember.
but it is too late.

i am not myself anymore. you cannot hurt me.
the dagger rips another petal-shaped scar on my chest. and another and another.
i am from darkness. you made me stay because you need the color you now draw from my body to paint your narrative.
you knew that i was alive. you and your acrylic nails, your high heels, your polished chains, and your leather jacket. i remember.
i remember the nights i begged you with a mouth full of blood to be careful cutting yourself on my broken shards. i remember how i’d rip open my own skin until it is soft enough it wouldn’t hurt your blades. i remember the stars in your eyes when you scratched your name into every chamber of my heart.
patterns of red splatters across the sleeve of your jacket.
and we do it all over again.

About the Author:

Yun-Fei Wang is a high school junior. Find her at ink-stained midnights or at @rainofelsewhere on Instagram.

This piece is part of Issue Two: CHRONOS. Read more like it here.

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