By Britney Phan
“this is” is an answer to the question: “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” Just recently in history, women have the power to seize their opportunities and follow their dreams. This piece reflects on those dreams, and the future.
When I wake up in the morning, I want it to be to the sound of the birds chirping, perched high above the window of my bedroom on the branch of a tree overlooking my entire house. And I want my house to be big, so big it practically chokes all the scenery around it, so that when I lift that window open to let a portion of the summer breeze fly in, there’ll be nothing else but blue skies to look forward to.
From below, I want to be able to smell the roses outside, twisted against the wiring of the fence of my patio, their thorns sharp but not enough to pierce my skin if I lean forward too much. Walking downstairs I’ll hear, along with the birds, my mother making our favorite meal while my sister plays music in the living room. In this dream, I don’t nearly want to be as alone as I say I do. I put a hand over my chest and notice that the hurt isn’t there anymore, and every time I see a glimpse of myself in the reflection I’ll stare straight ahead. Maybe somewhere hidden in my eyes there’s a piece of my younger self that’s looking back, and when I see her for the first time, I’ll say hello. I’ll say that I’ve been waiting for her, because I have, that her time is precious now, that it’s a privilege not to realize how much of her life she’ll spend thinking about it. In this dream, she won’t have to worry.
It will always be summer here. The heat sticks to our skins in a layer of sweat built out of the days we spend just gazing at the sunset. The colors paint our arms the shade of purple descending into yellow. I reach over to pull out a dandelion and blow the petals to the wind, watching as each one disappears along with the sun over the horizon. My sister laughs at me, swatting away a fly that gets too close. Her face has gotten a little older, a little longer, stretched out at the edges, but then I’ll look at her smile and be reminded of the time we were both children, equally striving for nothing, just as we are now. In this dream, my sleep is an endless black tunnel and when I come out, there’s only sunlight ahead, Everything I wanted sits in front of me on platters I’ve already tried, and when it’s all over, I’m sitting against my favorite couch in the corner of my living room. Television plays softly in the background while my mother nonchalantly hums a tune she heard in her younger days, and she’ll tell me about it, running her hands through my hair as I fall asleep to her voice.
But no matter how invincible my dream seemed to be, life was keen on bleeding through.
“You know,” she tells me quietly, her face reflecting the light on the ceiling overhead, like a planet from far away, “Grandma would be proud of you.”
“Yeah,” I’d say, suddenly opening my eyes to watch the stars up ahead. In this dream, in this living room, I’d put a window there just so I could see the way they moved every night, and I’d place my finger beside them, as if I’d grown large enough to catch constellations in my hands. “She would be proud.”
My grandmother would die a beautiful death. Long after she’d gone, just like in life, she would continue giving parts of herself to others. When we were children, it was an extra hand that washed our bodies, our hair; a pair of eyes that oversaw our growth, making sure we were still alive by the time my parents returned home. In this dream, our roses would bloom from the pockets of her ashes. Every day would be a slow recline into an endless summer, and every morning I’d wake up to the sound of birds chirping, and I’d know, this is my dream.
Britney Phan is a high school junior in Brooklyn, NY. Other than writing, her main hobbies include drawing and listening to music. This year, along with her mentor, Lindsay, she read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and was so taken by the fantastical landscapes which she was swept into that she decided to write a piece that was inspired by them.