Scenery by Blanka Pillár

I forgive him for the little lies. The little fibs that slip away and the broken promises that go unkept. He always tells the same lies, and sometimes I believe him, because the story paints itself like a vivid oil portrait; first the figures are painted, then the background, then the corners, edges, contours, and finally it becomes as if it were a real scene on the canvas of life, but only the immensity of human imagination has made believable what could never be real. It tells me what I most desire, and so I reach for it with all my heart, stretching out the arms of my soul to preserve all that its lips say, and to hold it within me for eternity. I love him with all my heart, but when my reality is keen-eyed, it sometimes smells like the scratch of jagged-edged infidelities in the dawning dawn or the wistful night. The cold realisation slips into bed beside me, or touches me as I walk.

Today we take it into our heads to walk around the riverbank. We get caught in the cool January breeze and he starts coughing. I take off my thin pink cotton scarf and wrap it around his neck with careful movements. He gives me a weak half smile and walks on. My chest gets hot, even though my whole body is shivering from the winter’s minus temperatures. Sometimes we stop. We look at the broken-legged seagulls on the slippery waterfront stones, the sloppy sidewalk ahead, the footprints of giddy pedestrians. As we spy one of the old buildings covered in melted snow, he rubs his hand. His fingertips are almost purple, so I tug off my black fabric gloves and slip them on his frosty palms. He thanks me quietly. His silent words creep into my consciousness like angelically soft notes, wrapping my trembling body in a gentle embrace.

Barely perceptible, the milky-white sky opens and it begins to drizzle, but we are unperturbed. We sit down on a stinging bench and stare silently at the glistening toes of our wet boots as they tread the snowy ground before us. Somewhere in the distance, expensive hand-painted china plates clink, light pages of newspapers crinkle in the city breeze, the iron bells of a dilapidated church jingle, a delicious golden-skinned duck roast in a warm oven is being prepared. I feel him move beside me, and I put my head down. He sways back and forth with folded arms, while tiny particles of dripping snow fall on his knitted flame-red angora sweater. I slip my thin arms out of my expensive loden-lined coat and place them on his back. He looks me in the eye. At the sight of his delicately delineated perfect face, my tongue curls and confesses. It humbly confesses the truth it has admitted so many times before, and hopes. It hopes that for once its love’s answer will not be a lie. But once again he replies, I love you too. I-love-you. He utters each elaborate detail of the gracious lie in a wordy way. The first syllable is trust, the second is passion, and the third is loyalty. He feels none of these, yet he testifies to them. He savours the shape of the voice. First bitter, then sour, then finally swallowed. After all, it’s only one word. But for me, it’s so much more: I put myself in his hands.

Maybe that’s not how it all happened. I’ve been sick for a while now; my lungs are weak from the January freeze. Every time I close my eyes, I try to remember our last story. Embellish it, add to it, rearrange it, change it. Maybe one day I’ll grind it to perfection and that word won’t ring so false. Or the memory will turn yellow, like old letterhead, and no longer matter. Or maybe ‘‘I love you’’ will become just another fluffy word to be whispered in the harsh winter, bored, picked up by the wind, carried far away, across the world, to where it means nothing. Far from the eager, greedy arms of my soul.

 

Blanka Pillár is a young, emerging writer from Budapest, Hungary. She has a never-ending love for creating and an ever-lasting passion for learning. She has won several national competitions and is also a columnist for her high school’s prestigious newspaper. 

Artwork by Johnson Anthony

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Between the Lines

One
The violin is in your hands, pale as the tao we shared, stuck to the soles of    our teeth

It is at your side, with the shiny brown varnish, the moment we share:  surreal

Like the one picnic, red and white cloth between our legs, day cotton.                 golden sunshine streaked

on cheeks flush with first love’s embarrassment and shine like your music

Except our cheeks are white now, Snow White’s dove circling

As I watch you from the third seat on the left 50 feet above the life stage

a forgotten shadow

A stranger once again, like two years ago

 

 

Two
You start singing with your bow, the black air pooling and stuffy,

spotlight on your freckles, tiny stars painted on the sky that is your face, tanned

I remember. You have 7 freckles, three on your hooked nose,         Imperfectly flawless

The notes on the page floating off in your fervor and concentrated effort

 

 

Three
The music starts slow and cautious, the space between your body and my flowered bosom

Your eyes mixed with dusk and honey, the dawn of something new: perhaps

You smiled, a sideways C, flattened, even when I put on shades, my mask in tints

But you peeled off the pain and anguish floating to the surface, vulnerable

You were connected to me in thick strands and blood

Perhaps I should’ve disappeared, my weight crushing your will to live weightless

Even when I screamed in the war for redemption, numbness spreading in the blotched lake

Your index finger digs into the string born,                                                            Dark and dissonant chords ascending upwards as if there is no time left to waste

You stayed, hugging me close, a bear hug on my torso’s curve

Even when I thought my arms too thick

My skin too pale and oily

And my hair not straight enough like the pretty ones

Feeling returned to my body, yours

Mind stronger than will

Shielding me from the wailing gale on our house, intruders

From the bottomless abyss so carefully chosen lest I slip

That fragment my mind into pieces you sewed together

Again and again

 

Four
You play the fourth movement, the mist and uncertainty fading with new phrases

Reaching the climax of our story, my head resting on your beating chest

The melody tugging at the fated strings that ties the mask to the melted face

This is the piece that we call ours, our relationship’s course in an arch
And paper thrown

Sitting on the long piano seat, the keys gleaming with promise, salty perspiration mixed with dry paint

Not marred with me hurting you, love our white lie, teeth out

My secret in your electric gaze on mine, straining for truth in the lie

Of course I’ll never kiss and tell, watching you now, my throat condensing in waves

Crescendos and fortes outlined on the faded linen sheets,

The energy rising and falling with moving notes gliding across silver strings

Rough and shallow, destined to flow and run out,

And move us in the moment of passion we call lover’s curse

Yet we persevered, a foolish youth’s dream

It was an illusion in the heat

 

Finale
Every piece has a beginning, middle, and end I think

Your hand catching the stream of tears from my eyes,

Free and drowned

There is silence in tone, a space where I once fit perfectly

And when you bow, a tear trickles down your frosted cheek that I once kissed

Alas I had long left the auditorium and your heart in between the notes and bars

Behind your smooth mask of apathy, fist in heart

You smile and it’s done, as fast as it started like the end of a movement

The end of us, the word sounds weird and

We are strangers once again

Passing shadows in the moonlight as our witness

The symphony ends, the moment gone with the spotlight

 

Jacqueline Wu is a writer from Long Island, New York. She is a contributor and editor of the acclaimed magazine, Cinnabar. She has also won several art/writing competitions, previously recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is forthcoming in Body without Organs and Remington Review, among other publications, and she hopes to be able to continue to inspire through her work.

Visual Art By: Ayala Cris

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