By Michelle Seucan
A time jump into the future: my 46-year-old self revisits her old countryside home in Romania, where she used to spend her childhood summers. She finds an old journal of hers, uncovering deep memories.
SOMEWHERE IN THE ROMANIAN COUNTRYSIDE IN 2050…
An empty room.
Old wood smell.
Black and white photographs on the cracked walls, some bigger than my head, others smaller than my thumb. My five-year-old self smiles at me from the second dimension, her eyes filled with an innocence I no longer see.
The painting of a blue Mona Lisa that I gifted my grandmother at fourteen is still perched on top of the fireplace. After all this time… I smile at Mona, recalling her birth at an amateur art class that I took in Rome many summers ago. Her skin, like a mysterious ocean, reminds me of my grandmother’s eyes, reincarnated as an ancient slather of paint. I miss her.
I start dusting the bookshelves with the routine instinct of my schoolgirl self. The characters Atreyu and Engywook stare down at me in confusion, wondering why the voice of God that used to narrate their existence from the heavens above wasn’t narrating them like before. Didn’t she want to catch up after thirty years? Sorry guys, I don’t feel like playing the Never-Ending Story this time around.
The characters on the book cover sigh in telepathic unison.
I continue dusting the corners of the bottom shelf, picking through cobwebs and clusters of spider eggs, until…
A black book falls on my head, hitting me hard enough that I feel my veins pulsing in alarm. Atreyu? Engywook? Was that you guys? I’ll read you later I promise-
But it wasn’t them.
It was my old journal.
The earthy vanilla smell of the brown paper sends me back to my teenage years when I’d explore the hidden dimensions of this village. My eyes glaze over a collection of stories of killer mushroom humanoids or gardens of talking strawberries, inspired by my afternoons picking berries with my brother or going mushroom hunting with my grandfather in the forest. I smirk at how I used to make my experiences more grandiose than they actually were. As I reach the middle of my journal, I notice a strange arrangement of chapters. Hmm… entries? My curiosity, never faltering after all these years, is piqued. Yet, I am scared, for these aren’t fiction like the others. These were my stories, stories I’ve forgotten. What if I don’t like what I find? Taking a deep breath, I slowly skim the chapters of my life, taking a mental summary of each formative entry.
CHAPTER 1: Seven years old. Enveloped in the musical melatonin of chirping birds, you write your first poem about your most recent daydream. You fall in love with poetry. CHAPTER 2: Ten years old. In Taiwan, visiting your grandmother, who you’ve only seen three times in your life. Frolicking in a night market, a strange woman asks, “What are you?” You begin to realize you look different. CHAPTER 3: Twelve years old. On a bus ride back home from your first debate tournament, placing third in the city. Looking out the window, smiling. The day you discovered your voice. CHAPTER 4: Fifteen years old. Spoke at the NY State Capitol. Interned with a powerful CEO. Performed your poetry. You’ve done your childhood self justice. CHAPTER 5: Eighteen yea-
But there weren’t any entries at eighteen years old. Suddenly, I start to remember how I lost this journal the summer before I went to college, forever frozen as a seventeen-year-old collection of truths and myths.
Sighing, I gently close the journal and bring it to my chest. While the chapters of my life may have been unfinished, I realize how much life I have left to live.
What a strange feeling, like loss… but not really.
I remember the exact moment when the inspiration for this story struck: it was a November afternoon in gym class, towards the end of the school day. My gym teacher was making us do ab workouts, but I couldn’t concentrate. All I could think about was my college essay and what exactly I could write about. An idea about the future version of myself revisiting the old house in the Romanian countryside where I spent most of my summers starting budding as I pushed myself to finish the ab workout, eventually rushing to the lockers to whip out my phone and write it down before I lost it. Even if it is written from the perspective of an older version of myself who doesn’t exist yet, the story goes through a lot of things that I currently value and highlights some of my current hobbies and interests, along with the way I perceive my reality. I don’t think that’ll change, even decades later.
Michelle Seucan is a writer and poet who is currently a senior in high school in Staten Island, NY. She is the Arts & Culture Editor of HALOSCOPE and the Co-Director of Research at ReDefy. She is also a Teen Activist Project organizer at NYCLU and previously the Co-Director of Journalism for Finxerunt, a student-run nonprofit that aims to address socioeconomic issues. She is an internationally published poet and has won several Scholastic gold & silver keys, along with being an American Voices Award Nominee. She is looking forward to building her network and honing her craft as a creator.
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