Written by Alma Mark-Fong

Edited by Rebecca Choe

We were always double townhouses, picket fences, and backyard 4th of July barbecues
White fantasies, first loves, and empty promises
Sneaking into the concrete playground behind our school
shrouded under the cover of darkness
You would hold my hand in yours, tracing constellations onto the pads of my thumbs,
“Orion’s Belt, Cassiopeia, the Little Dipper,” you’d chant in a whisper

I’d talk of dreams and love and getting out of this hole of a town
Time creeping up on us like a faceless monster, attacking in the night
While children slept noiselessly, tucked neatly in their beds
Where is that dream now, I wonder?
Are you satisfied too?

When I fled the nest with Scotch-taped paper wings
You vowed to wait for me
And when I returned everything was as I’d left it
Every storefront, every street lamp, even you, frozen in time
As if not a day had passed

We’d live side-by-side you promised
Forever in the illusion of our eternal youth
And our children would grow together too
Sneaking away to dream in concrete playgrounds, blanketed in stars
In double townhouses with picket fences, and backyard 4th of July barbecues

I look around me in a city of skyscrapers and impersonal metal structures
No neighbors with kids to grow along mine
No backyards and no fences
But how I’ve grown here
Now unburdened by the weight of our unkept promises, you have grown too
All of our memories I recall, and I regret the debts I cannot repay
From a time when
you were always me and I was you

Illustration by Thumy Phan
Instagram: @thusisterstudio

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