by Amelia Chen

it wasn’t a party like they keep telling you they met in the basement of one of the dorms where the air was half solid from weedsweatsmoke leeching off of polyester synthetic clothes they leaned with their backs to the wall and watched the other people swaystand in time to the music playing at half mast from a bluetooth speaker that was just trying its hardest [ ] told { } so and { } just laughed clicked her tongue with a quick sucking sound after draining her plastic not-solo-cup of the nasty-ass keg beer sitting in a metal barrel rusting blue paint in the dusty brick corner and [ ] watched { } swallow watched the tendons of { }’s neck stretch into the jawline like pilgrims palms kissing skin tight as the string twisted onto [ ]’s thumb watched the beer trickle down under { }’s esophagus which [ ] thought would be pink except knew couldn’t be pink there wasn’t any light down a throat to reflect wavelengths of any color watched the beer trickle down past the side of { }’s mouth peeling away a flake of { }’s orange lipstick watched as [ ] reached out and wiped it away with the thumb with the string and offered a laugh when { } glanced down and inhaled thanks and they both looked away because it wasn’t a party it was a room of brick and smoke and sweat and the droplet of bubbled gold balanced on [ ]’s thumb that she wiped onto the back pocket of her jeans and { } saying i like your earrings instead of i like your face as if they both knew they were about to be filed slowburn on ao3 that they wouldn’t talk again until they ended up in the same econ class months later when { }’s lipstick was purple and [ ] had lost the thumb-string in the shower the night before washing the red dye out of her hair as if they both knew { }’d find a dance about graphs and learn it in earnest and [ ]’d would pretend not to get money supply so that she could drum her fingers on her cheeks as { }’d sigh and begin to teach as if they both knew [ ]’d end up in

{ }’s room that night hiccuping and hard of breathing as if they both knew they’d fall asleep curled together like { [ ] } or [ { } ] or [ { ] } as if they both knew it’d be another year before { }’d hit her head on the washing machine door and [ ] would make her wear sunglasses for a month straight even when it was dark even when indoors as if they both knew it’d be many more months before [ ] would lift her head from the holey backseat of { }’s battered green chevy ask are we there yet and { } would blink cock her head realize in a split second that the chinese character for love sounded a lot like a way to say yes as if they both knew that they’d met many millennia      before          swaddled by cotton and 

woodsmoke      and counted    the stars with their backs 

to the grass             watched 

            a cricket rub its legs together     sawing out music     [ ] trailing her fingers 

along { }’s throat           watched 

            as it fell open into two  pink  perfect   halves          watched    as [ ] leaned in and     


Amelia Chen is a sophomore at Williams College, which is located in the forgotten bit (see: the left part) of the state of Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized by the Lex Allen Literary Festival, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the Adroit Prizes, and has appeared in Sine Theta Magazine and The Marble Collection.