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A Fluttering, Winged Thing

I have this one memory of sitting on a train as a child. The only thing in my line of vision was the group of people sitting across from me, captured in a painterly blur akin to shots of a Wong Kar-wai film. Whether this was a real memory from my waking life or a distorted one derived from dreams or daydreams, I’m not so sure. Many snippets of uncertain origins have slipped into my consciousness, and reflecting upon them won’t make them any clearer either. But I like to think I have a collection of memories specifically filled with moments whose authenticity I don’t have to question, and in this prismatic thing reside clearer shards of memories from my earliest youth.

To me, childhood was a kingdom of lively lairs, with splashes of colors here and there. From crying over cartoons to flipping through comic books I barely understood, to buying fishes in plastic bags after school, my sister’s back rubs lulling me to sleep, and looking out the window during car rides and thinking the moon was following me. All these vivid moments lace together as one intricate mosaic of days gone by.

But the faucet keeps dripping, you see, and time sure as hell won’t wait for you.

Since then, I’ve traded pink walls for blue ones. Stickers for band-aids. Paint for ink.


Teenagehood was a fleeting, hazy thing. At fifteen, the light got snuffed out of me as if it was a mandate from the heavens—allowing the dark, dark thing to creep in and find its way inside my skull. Sixteen arrived as a carnival of broken things; days were spent lost in a web of bitterness towards every atom of my being. My only sources of delight were apricot skies and stars playing pretend on silver screens.

Earlier today, I was in my front yard when a little black butterfly with white and orange eyespots fluttered up to me. Seconds later, it rested on my door frame, with its wings still flapping as if to flaunt the vibrancy its exterior holds. And I thought to myself: that’s how I was before. Beaming with life. Unshackled from the woes that come with daylight. A foreigner to calamity.

Then came that point of light. No bigger than your fist.

Every fragment of memory, every sinking of the heart, and every time you crash and burn, they all lead up to this: the moment when you realize the evanescence of youth and all that glitters. The moment when this fluttering, winged thing you hold so dear flies away and leaves you behind.

It will go and make a ruckus elsewhere. -SN

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