Burn, Pine, Perish
By Suha Khan
When a cold, unfeeling rejection appears at our doorstep, do we readily welcome it? Hardly. Alas, it makes its way indoors regardless, bringing along misery as a plus one.
When blood pounds from the heart right up to the head.
Knowing all that could’ve been, all that should’ve been, was all that wouldn’t be.
The heat bubbling, boiling, stirring counterclockwise inside my stomach.
The glow of the screen, etched into my brain.
Remembering the shirt she was gleaming in.
The one torn from my chest.
The screams of my silence in the midst of their cheers, still ringing in my head.
The pyretic embers of a burning log.
The treacly curse of the cut and paste strip: “We regret to inform. . .”
The shadows I used as stepping stones to see my way out.
Tears dripped before a sound could even surface.
Have you heard of the tree that fell in a crowded forest while everyone stood around?
No sedative for the surgery.
I tired my hand with a rubber eraser on ballpoint ink.
If only we could ignore wind like still air.
The yearn for indifference.
Like raindrops, like the ocean, and not at all like the sky.
Transparent, uncolored—yet tethered to blue.
My feet glued to the ground.
Keeping my head afloat as I bob through the hallways.
Sinking but not drowning.
Afloat without any means to tread.
Flipping past but the crease still remains.
Holding my breath until I reach the surface.
What is left when all has left?
The process of writing this piece came rather unexpectedly. My mentor, Vanida, had given me a practice prompt to complete for our next weekly call. I was to write an instance where I was sad or angry in an abstract way. I readily accepted the assignment, not expecting to grow as attached to it as I did. Initially, I had already been preparing a separate piece for the anthology, but something about this piece just stuck out to me while writing it. Rejection is something many of us are all too familiar with in various forms, yet we avoid any chance to talk about it because, well, it hurts. Right now, my senior friends and peers are slowly hearing back from colleges, and I am witnessing the anxiety that precedes and sometimes succeeds each decision. My piece details the difficult process that comes after you pour your heart and soul out into something, only to be barred from obtaining it. Though I would rather have people not relate to rejection, I hope readers can come out of this piece feeling less alone.
Suha Khan is currently in her junior year at high school in Manhattan, NY where she studies technical theater. She enjoys chocolate, film and Mitski—her essentials. Born and raised in New York, Suha yearns to travel, preferably in a pandemic-free world. When not mindlessly scrolling through the depths of social media, she reads, writes and creates.