I sat blooming in the lap of solitude. In that particular space along the breadth of time, I knew that my life had begun.
The existence I carry now has been pulled back and
forth — twisted at times into a form distorted enough to render it unfamiliar and strange. Still, I swallow it; after all, it remains as my self, though it hardly faces me with enough reason. I realize here, then, during the manifestation of broken mirrors: I am thoroughly me. I am complete in my me-ness.
I return to the spot where I watched the hatching of life’s secret tones. Here, I listened to the trees whisper. They told me things in the length of their branches, the dignity of their trunks. We are glad to see you, they said. We are glad you have come this far. They said this before they swallowed me whole.
Their roots sang vital beneath the fresh, wet soil. I was a child, then, and I was singular. I was simultaneously incomparable and connected in my lonesomeness. I felt the nutrients inching toward me, swimming through the mud. The mother trees rejoiced as they built me, as they watched me become as they are.
What happens above ground? What happens to the world I have left? I asked them several questions, but they only went on in immaculate silence. Such is life, I knew.
After months of darkness, I then emerged. I saw that the world was as it was, but the sun shone brighter, the expanse above our human heads grew broad and majestic. In the indescribable series of moments and tragedies I spent hidden and bruised, folded and becoming, the universe carried on as a river wild at the heart of everything that mattered.
It did not leave. It never abandoned any of us, in spite of the resounding, ever-conquering thud of our downfall.
My feet became the recipient of my witnessing gaze; my eyes eventually landed upon my toes. In length, they varied as much as the roots I had seen in my time. My heart felt old. My heart felt itself ripen through the seconds that passed.
This is growth, I told myself as the sky changed above me. I had lost one — had lost myself more. The clock stopped, the ticking halted, but time remained fluid. Time remained beyond the line of my ears.
I am able to take dying flowers in my palms now. I do not see them as lost chances or as children born from premature disillusionment, but I see them as they are—whole and unadulterated. More importantly, I no longer find my skin in their frail petals. I no longer see myself as a dying creature, although the truth lies in how my blood flows on as this enduring organ keeps beating. Each day I only exist closer to my final heartache.
(If you can listen to my voice as it is buried underwater, let me bring onto your garden an honest thought: It is no longer fear and I am no longer paralyzed.)
So I walk on to the hills, to the mountains, to the trees that await my return. I let myself speak without making a sound, without disturbing the peace of the flowers as they sit blooming, too. Here:
I am alive! I feel my chest swell.
I am alive! My heart flutters, strong as a bird.
I am alive! The wind moves on and on.
I am alive! I see the world—
I am in it. I am.
* * *
Samantha M. Albania, 19, is a student who “remains dedicated to the course of life.”
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