by Melissa Ho

Fragments of the moon’s glow pierce through the shrouded trees, tearing their way through the dark greenery. Luminescent shafts burn away the surrounding shades, eager to pursue a path within the smoky tendrils. I continue, hands wiggling inside the furry pockets of my coat. A flicker of warmth soothes the numbness, but the draught lingers. My fingertips ache for more heat, craving the intensity of an inferno.

A sigh befalls my mouth. Walking onwards, destination unclear, my feet keep at their brisk pace. Sheets of snow crunch beneath the bottom of my boots, the wind progresses its rage. It howls forward, nipping the edges of my cheeks. I gulp down a chunk of air, eyes gazing in the distance as a sense of unease strikes me. My stomach churns in discomfort - bile boils up into my throat. 

There, amidst the wisps of shadows, stands a singular lamp post. Its light sputters, failing to remain in a constant state. A lone room sits behind it, the lamp post acting as its sole source of light. Somehow, against the bitter coils of suppression and relentless chants on never coming back, I am here again. I tell myself that it is the weather forcing me to revisit this place, that these winter nights allow its icy claws to rip a gaping hole. Sometimes, I desire for a time without these afflictions, where I could ignite a fire, disregarding concerns from others. Its flames would smoulder those against us – no, against me.  

I enter the room, feet moving. My body switches into autopilot, while an overwhelming melancholy hammers my mind. The memories engulf me, stifling the calamity from the outside environment. The air, thick with unresolved tension, lines the entire room, invading every crevice, small and large. It slithers across the floor, sinking into the splintered cracks of the dark brown wood. A couple of tables and chairs remain from long ago, aged against the toils of time. I take a large breath, eyes blinking - a sense of blurriness settles in, distorting my vision. Stray tears dive from their confines, desperate to escape from their confinements. Knees buckling, a hand juts out on a nearby table to steady me. I collapse on the chair, sinking deeper into it. Legs trail their way to the other side of the table, wishing they could disappear, alongside me. 

I could disappear. 

I could vanish, and no one would bat an eye. Traces of my physicality would cease to exist, leaving nothing but a strange shift in the surrounding atmosphere. Everyone would brush it off, ignoring the variance for other, pressing matters. 

Alas, the perpetuity of objects seems to reach a culmination. Nothing will disappear in a finite sense – there will always remain a ghost, lingering around the skins of our recollections. 

It may be a ghost of someone, or the forgotten promises shared between countless individuals, all without a name to call upon.

Or it is a mere object, perhaps without significance to any but the owner.

Melissa Ho is a first year studying a Bachelor of Arts. When not sleep-deprived, she loves drinking iced matcha lattes, dancing or trying to break her writer’s block.

Darshni Rajasekar is an Illustrator at the UNSWeetened Literary Journal.