A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY YVETTE AGUILAR
He hasn’t moved, or shifted his glance. I don’t think he ever will. He’s only a few feet away, but he won’t acknowledge my presence. We had an episode about my latest photography portfolio.
“This one is far better than your last, but you still have a lot to learn.”
I didn’t know how to take it. “Well, you still haven’t found an agency that will accept yours. I must be doing something right.” I remember the glare he gave and how he seemed to be restraining himself from yelling.
Now, he’s teaching me that this is how it will go if I try to undermine him. Our power imbalance is becoming blatant, or maybe I’m just overthinking.
I stretch, finding relief in movement in the now stagnant environment of our shared living room.
My surroundings remain the same but everything inside me is distorted, muddled.
The curtains are slightly parted where I can see out, but I don’t find life. From my view, outside isn’t much different than in here. I notice the front door is locked shut. It always is, but now I question why. What are we hiding? Are we keeping something in or out? Don’t be irrational, Jade. I lean back and the fan interrupts my derailed thoughts. Then a bold voice.
“Jade? Jade! I’m talking to you!”
Our bedroom is bleak, but the tension is deafening. I’m looking directly into his eyes now. He’s staring back waiting for a response he seems to think won’t come out. Does he want a reaction? What does he want me to say? This is my chance to say something.
He starts to speak. “Are you going to answer me? What is it this time, Jade? Huh? You always have something to pinpoint.” His tone is insincere; he’s mocking me.
“You wouldn’t understand even if I did yell it to you!” I shout, ashamed of my sudden anger. “I’m miserable here.”
I’m hoping it is just because of our new home, and not because I’m stuck here with you.
“Don’t try to take your stress out on me,” he says. “You’re drained from the move. I keep trying to explain this to you. You constantly criticize and misconstrue—”
“—No. No,” I shake my head, feeling the reassurance I need to speak my mind. “It is because of you!” My tone shifts from harsh to soft. I don’t have the strength to fully explain. “I can’t be with you anymore.”
I relax my shoulders and unball my hands from their tightly wound fists.
Instead of shifting the blame, he is silent. I walk to the bedroom door then open it. I step aside and he walks past me. I don’t watch him, instead I listen. Against the carpet his footsteps are heavy until he reaches the front door. He opens it then slams it shut.
I step into an empty living room. The air inside is unfamiliar; the windows are open. My new apartment fits my criteria: bare and flexible to make my own space.
My apprehension fades, though I now have a heavy heart that has to learn to function without relying on dead weight.
I move the boxes to the bedroom and place them near the doorway. I unveil my new bedspread and sheets, then put them on the bed. The next box reveals all my framed pictures taken over the years when I was just starting my photography. The photos remind me to appreciate what’s around me, no matter how mundane it may seem to others.
It’s time I surround myself with items worth holding on to, and none that bind me to empty memories. I pick up each framed picture and place them along the windowsill and on every shelf.
I know now only to recognize the good that proves itself to me.
Yvette Aguilar is a 16 year old writer from La Mirada, California.