Contest - Page 2

Can You Draw Faster, Picasso?

Lilla Kassai

“Good morning, class!”

“Good morning, Mrs. Calloway!”  The art students greeted the teacher with a tired and bored groan. It was their last lesson, and it was  Friday.

“So today, you are going to make sketches and studies of the music students. They will be posing as if they were playing their instruments.“

Most of the students rolled their eyes, but a few of them seemed to be interested. It was a rare opportunity to draw models in these special positions.

Mike really looked forward to this task. He was very passionate about drawing and fine arts, so he quickly became enthusiastic. He sat down in front of a girl who was gazing at the piano while gently moving her fingers on the keys.

“Hey!“ he greeted the girl awkwardly “So… Do you mind me drawing you? Especially your hands…” he added, staring at the girl’s snow-white hands and long, slim fingers.

“Ehm…Okay,“ she answered, a bit confused. “How should I pose, then?” she asked in a soft tone, blinking innocently at Mike with her big brown eyes behind her glasses.

The boy lost connection to reality for a few seconds. He peered at the girl’s face, carefully examining every curve.

“So… why don’t you place your hand like this?” he stuttered while trying to place the girl’s fingers on the piano keys.

 “Because if I hit the keys, it would sound awful,”  she giggled, then moved her hands into another position, then pressed the keys of the F major chord. Mike immediately felt a light pressure in his chest from this small scenario.

 “Young man, it would be a pleasure if you would start working instead of eyeballing with your model,” Mrs. Calloway snapped at Mike in a bored and sarcastic tone, then continued to walk in between the desks and give explanatory speeches on sketching human bodies. Meanwhile, Mike’s face started to turn bright red even from looking at the pianist girl, who seemed to be getting bored and started to play Für Elise quietly.

 “Ehm.. would you remain in this position?“ he murmured, looking like a mellow tomato.

“Okay,” she said and froze. “Am I sitting correctly?”

“Yeeess,” squeaked Mike, then he started to sketch. Even if his model was trying her best to remain motionless, he still had difficulties focusing on his task, so it happened quite frequently that he caught himself gazing at her. Therefore, he wasn’t really fast at completing his sketch, while the girl was trying her best to sit motionless. It might be thought that modelling for artists is easy, but that wasn’t the case. She could hardly resist the urge to run her fingers through the keys. Moreover, her back and her neck were getting sore from sitting in the same position for half an hour. Her fingers started to cramp from holding them tightly above the piano. After another thirty minutes, she tried to loosen up a bit and stretch her sore limbs.

“Don’t move!” Mike snapped.

“But my fingers are sore,” the girl groaned, trying to peer into Mike’s sketches. When she saw that there were barely any lines and only a few simple shapes on the paper, she was about to freak out.

“Man, what have you done in the past hour?” she burst out in anger, after throwing a glimpse at the other student’s studies of their models.

“I told you not to move.” Mike’s sky-blue eyes flashed in a mixture of panic and anger. When the girl yelled at him, he got scared and accidentally drew a thick black line across the paper that interfered with the sketch of the piano “Now you won’t sit in the same position again. How the hell will I be able to draw studies of you like this?” he shouted.

“I don’t know, you should have made up your mind an hour ago!”  the girl grumbled in displeasure. Then she sat back in the same position, after receiving a dirty look from Mrs. Calloway.

“Tilt your head a bit more downwards,” Mike pouted, and positioned the girl’s head and finger to the starting pose.

“Fine…” she murmured annoyedly and tried to remain in the position for another hour.

Eventually the girl lost control over her fingers and started to play Für Elise again.

“He isn’t even drawing. He is so slow, I don’t think he made any progress in the past hour either” she was saying to herself, when Mike yelled at her unexpectedly:


“First of all,” she snapped, “I played Beethoven. Secondly, my limbs are experiencing cramps and my fingers hurt. Can you draw faster, Picasso?”

 Mike was about to say something back, when he saw Mrs. Calloway staring at him, looking like she was about to throw both him and the girl out the window. He completed his task quietly, then secretly took a photo of the girl in the modelling position.

When the bell rang, the models could finally relax.

“So how did you manage, Picasso?” the pianist girl thrusted, walking up to Mike’s desk to check out what he had drawn. When she saw his picture, her jaw dropped.  The sketch looked very similar to reality: anyone could tell right away that she was the one Mike had drawn.

“Wow,” she gasped. “Perhaps, I underestimated you…Picasso,” she added with a soft, shy giggle.

“You sure did.” Mike grinned at her, his anger gone. “Mozart,” he added.

“I told you, I was playing Beethoven, silly!” The girl rolled her eyes, then started to pack her stuff.

“It’s all the same to me.” Mike shrugged his shoulders and gave his drawing to Mrs. Calloway. Then he looked back at the girl.

“You play beautifully, you know,” he complimented awkwardly, while his face slowly turned red.

“Thank you.” The girl smiled, blushing. “Anyway, I gotta go practice. Catch me later!” She waved goodbye, smiling.

Mike remained standing still, his face red. Even if he was annoyed by this girl while making a portrait of her, he couldn’t stay mad at her or get her out of his mind. On his way home, he plugged his headphones into his phone, let the music play into his ears, and murmured the lyrics, a soft smile slowly growing on his face:

“I’ll cross the world for green and gold
But it’s those Spanish eyes
That get me home… home again.”

(Quote: U2: Spanish Eyes)

The Peak of Intelligence

Zsófia Szabina Gávris

Poem by Zsófia Szabina Gávris. Credit to Eszter Klára Szabó for technical assistance.

The Extinct Fire

Sára Eszter Radó

8:50 p.m., Thursday, 24 May 2007. Chris Morrow, a student of USC, majored in biology. He is an atheist. He believes in facts and proven research. He was raised in a Mormon household but left his community at eighteen, when he decided to separate from the church. His family  disowned him for his decision. He doesn’t want to return. He is happy with his life now.

He is having a martini in his favourite bar in downtown LA, waiting for his mates to arrive to celedrate his twenty-third birthday, when Emily Akes, a twenty-two-year-old  student of UCLA majoring in theology, steps in. She was raised in a Christian household and still follows the teachings of the Holy Bible. She attends church twice a week, every Wednesday and Sunday. She is also happy with her life now.

She is there for a night out with her girlfriends, but she is the first to arrive. She takes an empty seat at the bar counter and orders a raspberry lemonade. To her left is Chris sipping his martini. He compliments her choice of lemonade, since that’s also his favorite, then asks if she is also waiting for someone. She politely answers, then looks up at Chris, thinking about how to get out of this conversation, but when their eyes meet, she doesn’t want to get out of it anymore; it’s more like she wants to continue. For Chris it’s love at first sight, not knowing what’s yet to come. They keep talking and talking until they are forced to separate by their friends, who arrived not long ago. It’s 12:51 a.m., the bar is closing, everyone has left.

Chris has just arrived home but his mind is pacing. Its pacing about Emily, the girl from the bar whose name or phone number he doesn’t know. He can’t stop his mind, she is all over. He tries to sleep, it’s 2 a.m. and it’s still going…

8:34, Thursday, 7 June 2007. Two weeks after their first meeting. Chris sees Emily at the bus stop in front of his local shop. He approaches her and introduces himself, Emily is surprised but also excited to see the handsome guy from the bar again. Chris gathers his courage and asks Emily out for a coffee that afternoon, and she gladly agrees.

4:45 p.m., Philz Cofee, Los Angeles. Chris and Emily are talking, enjoying themselves. They have been there for three hours. Talking about friends, hobbies, food, sports, then school comes up. Chris is a bit worried when she mentions that she is majoring in theology, but tries to push his worry aside. Then religion comes up and Chris doesn’t have a good feeling about it. Listening to Emily’s stories about her church community makes him feel suffocated, just as his family made him feel. He is reminded of the reason he left them and his old life behind. He doesn’t want to be trapped again.

8:02 p.m. Chris and Emily are about to go home, but they agree to call each other, and they exchange numbers. Chris no longer has the courage to tell her what he thought after the date, but by then Chris knows that the initial fire he felt in his heart that night came so fast and is now gone.

Epilogue: Emily called and texted. None of her calls or messages did Chris ever return, only because of the fear of being trapped again in something he didn’t want.

Do We Really Need Time?

Eszter Aletta Hevesi

Over the past couple of weeks I started to read ‘A véletlen könyv avagy a véletlennek megélt valóság’ by Attila Pergel. I expected this book to answer one of my biggest questions in life: Is time something we really need, or does it just make everything easier? Unfortunately, the book made it complicated by involving advanced physics, but it also made me even more curious.

If we have already built so much of our lives on time, why isn’t it a natural concept? Back in time, some inventors came to the conclusion over time that right now it is midnight and we need to go by hours from now on. 1 year is equal to 365 days, 1 day is equal to 24 hours, 1 hour is equal to 60 minutes, while 1 minute is equal to 60 seconds. Of course, they measured this in terms of the Earth’s motion around the Sun and considered some other natural factors too, but why didn’s such measurement originate with the Earth? Why do we need time so much that I need to know even the seconds? Who told us that we needed to use numbers to tell what time it is? If we want to, we can leave this system, use the Sun as a clock, and adapt to it without any numbers involved; animals do that too, and they can survive. We won’t surrender to the ancient scientists’ ideas of time and we can live the way the Universe/God wanted us to, without artificial time.

But would we feel better? I wouldn’t know when I should go to school. When would my bus come? When would the teacher let us out of the lesson? Could I use terms like hours, minutes, seconds? Would I get a ticket if I drove a car faster than I am allowed? Would speed even be a factor in our lives? If we don’t have time, we can’t have speed either. Neither in connection with cars, with swimmers, runners, or with any kind of sport. A solar eclipse would ruin our whole routine, because we couldn’t use the sunclock in that case. We couldn’t celebrate birthdays because we wouldn’t know what day it was. We couldn’t make plans; all of those situations would be like: “We should grab coffee together, what do you think?” “Yeah, sure, when and where?” “Hmm, maybe when the sun goes down we can meet at the park and approach the cafe together.” “But the sun goes down earlier in my town, I would be there way earlier than you.” “Oh, I completely forgot. Then maybe we should come here hours before the sun goes down and if it is meant to be, we will meet and grab a coffee.” That is a terrible idea; I won’t wait for you all afternoon.” So the meetups wouldn’t even happen. Christmas, Easter and all the other holidays would disappear too.

Considering these factors, do I need to think about the question of time, or should I just enjoy the privileges of having time and thank the ancient scientists for their work? I don’t know. Will I ever get an answer to my question? Probably not. The thing I enjoy is how my mind tries to solve the question of time and how its opinion on the matter changes nearly every day.

The Reflection

Ecem Göksenin Aday

He started running in a hurry as he left the store. It came to his mind eventually as if the whole universe were trying to remind him of it, but it had only just come to his mind. Suddenly, he stopped his legs and rendered them immobile, he was tired. Why was he running? he thought. When did he even get exhausted? He forgot again, the thoughts in his mind were always flying away like birds. If he could be fast enough, could he catch them? He gazed around. He still had no clue.

There it was! The record shop he had been seeking for days. One of this little kid’s obsessions was records. He got across the street. He walked in and started to look at the records. He remembered that it was the same store that he just left. He ignored it and went on observing them. Out of so many records his favorite one, Strangers in the Night—Frank Sinatra, caught his attention. It’s my lucky day, he thought and salivated over it. When he looked at his watch, it was 08:53. He remembered it again. The records stuck in his gizzard because he had to hurry to catch up. Once again, he got out of the store, he started to run and got across the street. Now, it was 08:55, he was definitely going to be late for class. Yes, he remembered it, the thing he was trying to catch was school. He loved going to school and learning, so he started to run with enthusiasm. However, on the street, the adults around him were staring at him like he was crazy. He would always be worried about growing up, because he believed that the adult’s world brought so much pressure and responsibilities. How sad these people are that they are so surprised at my joy, there is nothing more normal than a kid having fun, he thought. Speaking of fun, he saw a record store across the street. Immediately, he approached it. There was a window in front of the showcase in the record shop. A silhouette appeared there.

As soon as he saw the reflection in the glass he was terrified. An old man had set his eyes on him; it didn’t take long for this old man to realize that the reflection belonged to him. He couldn’t believe his eyes. There was no way it was him. As a child, it was impossible for him to have so many wrinkles. The contradiction of his mind and his appearance slammed into his face like those birds who are almost the same as his thoughts. When he faced all those memories and conceptions, he was much amazed. He lifted his head to see the soaring birds. He started to catch them, but unfortunately they were already gone. When he lowered his head, he saw the store that he had been seeking for days! He walked into the store…

The Song of Being

Ceylin Kıran

Life itself is a contradiction. In every case of death, there is birth and in every case of birth, there is death. Every day is full of contradictions, we face them every day, we are made of them. Walt Whitman got it right when he wrote in ‘Song of Myself’ (1855):

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Our contradictions remind us that we are large and that we contain multitudes.

We, humans, are structurally made of contradictions, living peacefully, sometimes painfully. We are strong when we are weak. We are in control when we are dependent. We have power when we surrender. And not only do our contradictions make us human, but they make us creative. Have you ever wondered how many contradictory thoughts you have in a day? How often do your thoughts contradict your actions? How frequently do your feelings oppose your principles and beliefs? Most of the time, we don’t see our own contradictions – it’s often easier to observe such variability in others. But you are as full of contradictions as I am. We try to live peacefully with our contradictions because of our capacity to compartmentalize. And when contradictory actions or emotions jump out of our box, we are very good, perhaps too good, at finding justifications to pacify cognitive dissonance. Most humans struggle to maintain a sense of psychological unity; contradictions produce destabilizing breaks in the self. Whether conscious or unconscious, these cracks nourish creative inspiration, which can be interpreted as a way to resolve or sublimate internal oppositions. I believe this can be said of all domains of creation. Perhaps art, literature, science, or philosophy wouldn’t be possible without intrapersonal contradictions and the desire to resolve them. We try to patch up our wounds by using art, because pain doesn’t show up on a body scan and can’t be measured in a test. As a result, many chronic pain sufferers turn to art. Our emotions are linked with our contradictory thoughts and world. Everything is contradictory; even the phrase that I wrote is full of contradictions.

There’s no one who lives according to the Stoic principle of Plutarch, in “perfect agreement between the maxims of men and their conduct,” and this isn’t a cause for crisis. We, humans, can sectionalize emotions and thoughts. In certain realms of life, some behaviors and thoughts are acceptable but not in others. For instance, lying might be seen as a heroic act when done to protect victims from a brutal regime, but in a friendly relationship, it is intolerable. In labs, scientists can produce evidence-based research in the context of their professional lives, then go home and attend religious prayers addressing the existence of invisible entities.

There’s a very interesting ritual of Jewish people: ‘slapping’ rituals performed at a girl’s first menstruation. In the past, among Eastern European Jews, when a girl told her mother that she had got her first period, the mother would slap her daughter’s face and, at the same time, exclaim ‘Mazel tov!’ (congratulations). Here we can see that the contradictory nature of the messages forms the foundation of the ritual and the necessary components for its efficiency.

“Living a contradictory life is profoundly, perhaps definitively human,” writes David Berliner of Sapiens. We shouldn’t escape contradictions, we should learn to embrace them.

We need to accept and recognize contradictions, our contradictory self, and life.

A mature human being is someone who has the ability to discover and embrace contradictions, even if, at times, we struggle to renounce them.

A Strangely Usual Day of Mr. Steve

Başak Ünal

Mr. Steve was awakened by what little daylight he was letting into his room. He made himself a delicious breakfast and a cup of black coffee while listening to the record that was playing on his dusty turntable. He checked the mousetraps. The baits in them were gone, and not replaced by rats’ bodies. He cursed the rats.

He didn’t like to waste time while he ate his breakfast. He headed to the poetry bookshelf with his coffee in hand. One might guess that Mr. Steve had a huge library consisting of different kinds of bookshelves filled with various volumes, but in fact he only read poetry books. Novels are read by the author’s mind. Poems are read by the reader’s mind, free from outside influence. Unnecessary fiction is not included in poems. Poems do not disturb those who do not want to be disturbed. The raw material of poems is emotions, not ideas, so they won’t force you to think. 

To choose a book to read, he climbed on top of his suitcase, which still had its price tag hanging out. He stuffed the suitcase first so it wouldn’t tip over. Just as he reached the top, he was startled by a disgusting voice coming from down the hall. He went down straightening some of the books he had accidentally bent. Grabbing his flashlight, he cautiously entered the living room where the sound had come from. He was not worried for his life, for what was the point of being alive if he didn’t even feel safe at home? First, he saw a huge shadow on the wall: A gigantic creature with huge teeth and a thick neck. He hesitated to approach the shadow, but his curiosity overshadowed his fear. As he got closer, he saw how much smaller the shadow had become. He turned off the light. It was a small, helpless, poor, sickly mouse. He complained to himself about the poor quality of the traps he had carefully placed last night, as he did every night. Then he looked once more at the mouse in his living room. He quickly walked away so as not to vomit.

It was only 2 p.m., but it was already dark inside. “I have to move out,” thought Mr. Steve. “I have to go far, far away.” Why was he still calling such a dark and unsafe place his home? He thought about the last time he went out: This reminded him of what he thought of other people as well. “Ignorant people and hideous rats,” he said. This time he cursed not only rats, but mankind too.

He recited poetry until the small deformed candle by his side could no longer give light. Some terms were strange to him. He was looking at the dictionary but couldn’t make any sense of them. Another day came to an end as he rummaged through his books and poems. He was really tired.

He jumped and gnawed a piece of cheese from the trap into his mouth. He then washed his tail in the murky sewage water. Carefully grooming his thin mustache, Mr. Steve slowly fell into a peaceful sleep under the quilt, which was five times his own weight.

On the World

Aurelia Wiggins

Prejudice stands against the inexperienced minor,
Who got a major to mine for
Facts on the latest wars we died for.

Prejudice companies creep on the extinction
Of the working class’ weak men
With their labor force’s meek ends.

Politics thrive off the public eye
That thinks they climb,
To get tripped from behind that ripple in our economy.

History told truths in its rhymes,
Don’t get me wrong,
Until whitewashing lied,
and dried the strive for diverse literature.

Why can monopolies be moved through the centuries,
By ticking,
Fizzing coke bottles we let drown our envies?

Why does change need cravings?
Little bursts of dismay that we say will change things
About the illiterate.

You are a militia with no guns.
You put the children in the line of fire and say,
“Fetch me freedom,”
And they never knew where they lived,
Because you can’t eat money.

The Earth’s one beating heart,
But some don’t want to treat it,
Or fall under the pretense
Of breaks over the weekend.

The Earth’s one beating heart because somebody beat it,
And now no one can breathe unless they forfeit,
Fleet it.


Adél Mihályi

Terry was rushing through the city, putting his hands in his hoodie pockets. His blond hair kept on covering his eyes, so he was constantly fixing it with one of his hands. He didn’t want to miss any detail of the view he had in front of him. He always observed everyone and everything he saw; some people would have called him paranoiac, but that wasn’t true. He just liked to know what was happening around him.

…At least that’s what he was telling himself. Without being exactly aware of his surroundings, he would be totally lost… or he would notice that he was lost. This was the last thing he wanted to admit; acknowledging that he is just a random crumb thrown into this maze called ‘life’ was his only fear.

But this fear was big, and it was slowly taking over his mind. It bothered him so much… He started walking even faster, anxiously checking his watch: he was running late to pick up his younger brother at school. He shook his head so that neither his hair nor his self-destructive thoughts would bother him as he got closer to his location.

He arrived just on time: his sibling immediately ran to him and crossed his arms around his waist, hugging him tight. Terry placed his hand on his brother’s head, playfully tangled his hair, while an exhausted smile appeared on his face.

“Today we had to write about someone who is really brave, and I wrote about you,” his brother said suddenly, while passing his backpack to him. Terry and he interlocked fingers as they started walking home.

“And, what did you write?” he asked curiously, forcing a happier look on himself.

“Well, I wrote that you always know what to do, and that you are very confident.”

Hearing the sentence from his brother’s innocent mouth, Terry felt empty. Without his noticing, his smile became a grimace filled with tension. He started to feel lost again, realizing that kids are always honest, yet he couldn’t believe a word he had just heard.

“That’s cute. How about we race to the next corner? I bet you will lose!” He winked at his brother, and in the next second they were already running; the loud sound of their feet stamping the ground was echoing in his head, but the faster he ran, the louder it got. He suddenly stopped, trying to catch his breath, but he still heard the steps of his brother, who was on his way to become the winner, leaving Terry in a slump.

Not What I Thought It Was

Dorottya Turza

After hours of studying, it feels like a miracle when the students finally hear the bell that officially ends school. Usually everybody starts to pack up their things and leave through the gates as fast as they can, while chatting animatedly about their plans for spending their free time. However, as we are all aware, the exception proves the rule. And of course there was an exception. While his peers enthusiastically babbled amongst themselves, a boy named Connor was entirely unfazed. And surprise, this boy happens to be me. And yes, I’m so pathetic that I started to narrate my life. Why, you ask, considering how unremarkable my existence is? Don’t judge, I have to liven up my mood now and then.

So in short, I’m an average student with a lack of distinctive characteristics, or so I was told. Maybe my greatest achievement is that I officially became THE quiet kid in our class. Who is just too weird for anybody to associate with themself.  But they are so self-righteous that their pride certainly couldn’t take it if they just happened to avoid me. They had to help me, and the best way to do that was to pick out an unfortunate soul to approach me every single week. It was rather humiliating. So after I refused their company a number of times, they eventually stopped. Then to get back at me for ruining their generosity, they started some baseless rumors (At least have some human decency and don’t gossip about me when I’m sitting right behind you… seriously, how can you be so insensitive?)… which honestly I don’t mind. Really I prefer that kind of behavior to the previous one. At least I know how to deal with hearsay. After all, these are just words.  I believe that words just are as powerful as we let them be… and I learned to block them out completely. Ah, sorry, I’m babbling. But excuse me, I am still very new to this narrator thing.

So where was I? Oh, I know. I am in some aspects just like my contemporaries. I too look forward to getting school over with and finally going home. However, while others waste their time in the company of others, I stay in my room and exclude the outside world while spending some quality time on my own. Benefits of being a loner. Don’t give me that look. I’m serious. I genuinely despise every moment that I had to spend with my classmates or rather with people. They are massive fools who can’t see past their massive egos to realize that others also live around them, while hiding behind a facade of virtue and saying that they care about you. They all are liars and hypocrites. And I can’t stand anything more than those who lie to your face. This is the reason why I try to minimize my interactions with them. Staying quiet is one of the best tactics to make them  lose interest in you and just leave you alone. I know it best, because I have used it for three years now, and it always works.

Really, the only person I can somewhat tolerate is my mother. We don’t have more than one conversation or two per week. She blames her job for the lack of time we spend together. But I know the truth behind it: I’m too much of a pain to deal with, so it is easier to look aside and divert the blame toward something stupid like overtime and other nonsense.

When I arrived home I recognised my mother’s purse. Great… just great. Today can’t get any better. So apparently my mother finished her shift much earlier than usual (Hip hip hurray). When I peeped into the living room I saw her fully dressed. She seemed to be getting ready to be somewhere else. She just can’t stand to stay home with me, can she. Breathe. Calm yourself. After taking a huge breath, I cleared my mind. I knew what I should do. In this case the best solution would be to slip past her and go straight to my room without being noticed. As I started to execute the plan, I immediately slipped on something small (possibly one of my mother’s makeup tools) which resulted in a loud puffing sound as I landed face on the floor.  This caused her to look up and take notice of me, her only son that she probably would have forgot about if it hadn’t been for this incident.

“Hello sweetheart! Oh, it’s so good to see you!”  she said with a sweet voice while walking to the sink in the kitchen.

“Hello Mother. I didn’t know you were home.”  There was nothing else to do, just continue with this conversation and be done with it as soon as possible.

“Owww… you are so cold to me,” she said in a teasing tone. “When was the last time you called me Mom or Mommy?” When she saw that she wouldn’t get an answer from me, she continued like nothing had happened. “Anyway, to answer your question, we finished our project a lot earlier than planned, so we got the rest of the day. Doesn’t it sound wonderful!” she cheered.

“Yeah…” the only thing that I could mutter.

She happily smiled back at me and at the same time started to wash the dishes (so at least during our conversation she would be able to do something useful).

“So how was school?” she asked with her back now facing me.

“Fine. Just the usual.” My answer didn’t seem to satisfy her, because she pressed more.

“Honey, you know that I am not a psychic, I can’t exactly read your mind.” Thank God for that. “Can you provide a little bit more detail, please? You always say something like ‘Fine’ and ‘Just the usual,’ but I don’t really know what that means.”

“My lessons are boring, but manageable. Most of my teachers don’t even know that I exist. My classmates are a lot more tolerable now that there is temporary peace within our class, but  I give them approximately a week before they are at each other’s throats again.“

 It seemed I made her speechless until she said something like ‘how wonderful to be so young’ and ‘everybody feels that way when they are your age’ and ‘when you look back on it nothing but happy memories remain.’ It was so surreal that I stopped listening at some point. I came back to reality just to hear my mother’s question.

“And your math test?” Ohh… I don’t like where we are going with this.

“Which one?” I asked dumly.

As she turned her head to face me, she put on an unimpressed expression that just radiated ‘you know better than this,’ but she still answered.

“The one that you studied for all weekend. You seemed anxious about it. So how did it go?”

“Oh, that one. I couldn’t solve most of the problems, but at least I’m over it.”

“Aww… honey. I’m sorry to hear that. You put so much energy into it.” Even though I knew it was a facade, the worry and understanding that she showed was just so convincing that I almost believed it. Almost.

“It’s no big deal. I didn’t really study for it anyway.” The words slipped out of my mouth before I was aware of them.

That was the moment when I realized what my mistake would bring with it.

My mother stopped her task and slowly turned around to face me. Instead of her usual smile she had a frown on her face. Really the only thing that was missing was to cross her arms on her chest. Her wet hands probably made it impossible to do so. However, that didn’t affect the whole picture that my mother made; her cartilage basically emitted fury. 

“Care to explain what you meant by that?” she whispered with a certain something in her voice that I couldn’t place anywhere. “Did you use something like this before too?”

I didn’t know how to properly reply to that, so I decided that the best option was to remain silent and wait for my chance to leave as quickly as possible.

“I thought that the reason why you always locked yourself in your room was because this gave you more time for study.” But that edge in her voice vanished just as quickly as it appeared. “So you came up with all those excuses just to avoid spending time with me. This is how you see me, as such a terrible person?”

All of a sudden I felt horrible. This is stupid. She only does this because she wants to come across as the victim of this situation. To make me believe that I was wrong. And she is still the perfect mother. A small voice in the back of my mind denied my claims and wanted me to apologize. But why would I? She only pretends to care, to feel something between us that wasn’t there from the beginning.

She suddenly grabbed the counter for support as if the ground were about to slip out from under her feet. I instinctively stepped closer to her, but she held up a hand.

“Can you leave me for a moment?” she asked, shaking her head.

This was the clue to leave and finally go up to my room (the only place where I feel at peace, where I belong). However, my legs couldn’t move. It was like my feet were pinned to the floor by some unknown force. At that moment I felt an unexpected need to close the distance between us. To hug her. To tell her all the things I wanted to say so many times that I never could do (or never dared to do). That the problem wasn’t in her. She didn’t do anything wrong. The problem was in me or rather… I AM THE PROBLEM. I opened my mouth, but before I could even mutter a word, she spoke again.

“Please…” Her voice was soft, almost a whisper, as if her heart would break any minute.

Just one word. Just this one word from my mom’s mouth destroyed me completely. Instead of staying here, I wanted to run away as far as I could and hide from her,  my classmates, and my life. And this is apparently what I did, because the next second, before I even noticed it, I was in my room panting heavily. I must have run upstairs. This would explain the sudden wetness on my face. I raised my trembling hand (the result of taking to the stairs in such a hurry) to wipe down the sweat, when I registered that it wasn’t what I had thought. Not sweat, but tears. My tears that were welling up in my eyes and streaming down my face at a frightening pace. I sighed heavily, while letting my head drop. With my back to the door I slid down to the floor, where I curled up into a ball and started to rock back and forth. My body started to shake uncontrollably.

I don’t understand. I lived my life as I deemed necessary. I know that I did everything to protect myself. This is the reason why I pushed my annoying classmates away without exception. Why I didn’t have any friends. Why I always kept three steps away from my mother. Why I constantly refused any form of relationship with anyone. Why I separated myself from the word. Then why?

Why does it hurt so much?