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"Ditto" • NewJeans (by Khalid Mitchell)

Winter’s gone and now it’s spring. Nothing’s the same anymore because time keeps moving and we keep melting. They buy houses and marry and take out loans and go to grad school. You know at a concert how everybody surges forward when the artist comes on stage? We take two steps back. I notice you across the way and smile and think that you will be like me. We jump and the floor shakes only for us. We lean into each other and laugh and I wrap myself around your ribcage and cling.

Spring’s gone and now it’s summer. We are massive. We are lightning bugs and we are black holes. We are supernatural and warm-blooded and when I look at you we are like earth and when it rains, we dance. We talk about the inevitability of supernovas or a stray meteorite hurtling toward our planet. We decide it’s better for us when things are upended. We build our futures like sandcastles and every night we kick them over and find a new nook or cranny to scurry into and we pump ourselves full of things that feel good and we laugh because we have grown used to tightropes and when other people fall, they break. But not us. We will share a knowing look and laugh that same petty laugh again.

Summer’s gone and now it’s autumn. We are good, wounded trees and we have frail, woody hands. We are immobile and proud. We let the world deteriorate and delude ourselves. This whole time, I thought that we were impelled into the same trajectory. That the both of us would continue to sink while everybody else skyrocketed to heights we could never dream of from down here. Our woody feet. Our rooted, soiled feet. Two steps back, remember? Futures made of sand. Nobody needs us and we have built a life of water and soil. We grow the way we grow and stay in the same place, side by side.

Autumn’s gone and now it’s winter. When the air gets cold enough, we talk about how we could swallow wind and it would go down like thick sludge. My hands grow limp with frost and fall at my feet. I can’t see you anymore because of the mist and snow. All the love that I have left has crystallized. We spend our whole lives waiting because we think we are little phenomenons that need to happen before we prove to ourselves that we are human. We spend our whole lives gazing into a mirror and waiting for something else to be reflected back. We spend our whole lives waiting for things to come back around because everybody told us that life is a perpetual cycle and we listened. Good things and bad things and in-between things. And where are you now? I thought that you would be like me, too. I thought that you would be like me, too.

Khalid Mitchell is a young writer from Charleston, SC. This is his first publication.


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