Your hand is light in mine.
By Winnie Liang
A dreamlike meditation on loss and love.
Your fingers are cold, colder than I remember. You trace a pattern on my skin, skimming the surface, trailing ever so softly. I think that if I try hard enough, I can feel it.
It was in April that we began. A yellow-white month, not with the sharpness of gold, but the fragility of plumerias. Fragrant, five-petaled flowers with a custard center and a snow cradle. You picked one off a tree, even though we weren’t supposed to go over the fence, and told me it looked like an egg. We twined together with the same ease that its yolk melted into its whites.
I am in a place that feels like home, and you are here, so it must be true.
But the sky is getting purple and I am getting red. You laugh, full of sunshine cheer, and drop your heart in my waiting hands. You wrap your fingers around mine. They’re white, cold, but I think they should be orange, warm. Orange, fire.
I think that for you, I would burn.
“I thought you were going to cut your hair,” you say.
“My mom likes it long,” I respond. I am half-hazy, and the world is silver, but you are here and the world is baby pink.
“If you were your mom, we wouldn’t be here, would we?”
I am quiet. “No,” I say. You twirl fingers into my ever-growing hair, wisping mist blue beside it. “We wouldn’t.”
We are changing.
Once, you were lit with life. You, a burning tea candle, cherished, beloved, unwavering in your faith. I, a sputtering oil lantern, searching for freedom but afraid of the risk. Should I be freed, I would only ever send smoke in the sky. You laughed when I said it aloud, and called me a romantic. You said it again when I denied it.
Now, you are colder. Smaller. The wind was quiet as it snuffed you out, leaving my fingers to curl around smoke. But it roared as it knocked me over, and I set our city alight. As we watched our home fall, I lost you somewhere in the blaze.
The chill of the ice cream shop is a welcome respite from the sweltering summer heat. I wanted to go back home, but you wanted ice cream, and the electric excitement sparking in your eyes leads me helplessly along.
We sit on the boardwalk, my feet idly kicking up sand. Ice cream drips over our sticky fingers, and my face is aglow with joy. Its taste is a bubbly peach lemonade which lingers fruit-sweet and pleasantly tart.
“Do this again sometime?” I need to ask, hesitant, because I had fun, and I think you did too, but if not—
“If you promise to pick a better flavor.” My expression must be so indignant that your mirth is irrepressible, flowing like cream and honey, and your laughter echoes in my head for the rest of the day.
It is evening, and you stand at my side. A cloud of spun sugar, trailing threads in a blooming-rose sky, is the sole witness to our story.
You are soft against a gentle sun. On your face is a smile that has been absent since the sunrise-pink days of our youth. I tell you this, and you make it brighter.
“Give me your hand,” I say, and you oblige, your smile now morphed into gentle yellow. I think I might say I’m scared, because you soften. And when the rest of me goes black and purple and blue, I follow the glow where my fingers meet yours.
I don’t usually draft out a clear idea before starting to write, and I didn’t for this piece either. This was written in snippets, focusing on the color symbolism of a relationship between two people. The original idea was the narrator losing a close friend in a fire and needing to cope, but the fire became a metaphor for their relationship instead. I wasn’t sure whether they would be close friends or lovers, though I think the way it is now implies the latter. When writing, I began with the feelings, then expanded scenes to flesh out their dynamic (the flower and ice cream scenes, for example, were some of the last things I wrote). Developing the characters was difficult, because I wanted to keep the same kind of style throughout. This is a more experimental piece, a bit of deviation from my usual style, but it was fun and I like the dreamy, ambiguous feel to invoke nostalgia and loss. For the illustration, I only knew what color palette I wanted—pink, orange, yellow—because they’re pretty together and represent the ending scene (which I pictured as happening during a sunset before actually writing the setting).
Winnie Liang is a high school senior in New York. She enjoys expressing herself through writing and art, and working creatively in a variety of mediums. An aspiring architect who wants to design for a sustainable future, she is taking classes in 3D modeling. Her favorite ice cream flavor is mint.