Spring/Summer 2021 Issue


Jessica Zhang

When this world was first created, I was only a tiny drop of water. I was only the tip of a dying flame, the thorn of a withering branch. I was a sphere of energy that had accumulated from the collapse of a star, the last remaining of a dead world. But I told myself I was enough to form this new world.

When this world was first created, it was only me in a pit of darkness. I was desperate, and hopelessly afraid. I gave light, little by little, to illuminate the hole, to make this world whole. Gradually, I added planes of land, broke through with wide, flowing rivers, and crashed mountains together. I decorated with sweet grass and white flowers, with sweeping trees and fragile butterflies. Finally, I broke myself into pieces, little fragments of energy molded with trees, with flowers, with water, with clay that was revived by the rivers. And I watched as the little fragments of energy grew with their forms, turning into people. Turning into civilization, into celebrations, into wars, into history. I made myself a palace and a throne, and each day I sat there and watched over my people. I thought, perhaps, that I could make myself belong in this world that I created. To make a home for myself.

The first human I created was named Yukinia. I smiled as she grew among the trees and grasses, as she learned how to capture the silvery fish that always seemed to slip away, as she created a tiny house that was ever expanding into a village, into a city. I laughed among the people as they invented song and dance, as they rejoiced in the setting sunrise of the world. I smiled, and yet a part of me knew that I wasn’t them. That they were only fragments of me.

Yukinia’s wrinkled face smiled as she held her grandson. He was admired throughout town, his youthful charm and friendliness winning everyone over. From my throne I observed as he grew into an intelligent and athletic boy. But when he was injured from falling off a cliff, he became bitter. Resentful. He threw the world into terror, into destruction and red. Among the charcoal ash, I realized I had to kill him. I had no choice; there wasn’t any other way. Playing god is lonely.

Walking among a grove of willow trees, I met a strange girl. It had been awhile since the beginning of this world, and generations had passed down until I was no longer the one who had created them. This girl had hair black as night, and wove little white flowers in two small braids running along the sides of her short hair. It reminded me of when I first made this world, when there was only dark and I had brought little pockets of light. Her flowing white dress made her seem almost haunted as her small figure wandered around the distant bright field, plucking little white flowers. I was enchanted and drew closer, looking at what I thought I had created. Under her breath, she was muttering a song:

Under this willow tree, 

I met you and you met me.

If you built this world forgetting about me,

born out of despair and never free,

Could it ever be truly repaired?

Or will it always be empty?

Her head turned towards me, eyes of soft, molton brown staring. “Who are you?” 

In that moment, I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t want to tell her I was the one who created this world, that I had come from a different world. That I wasn’t like her. That I was god. Yet at the same time, I desperately wished that she remembered who I was. I faltered, and in my hesitation, she turned her head back and walked away, disinterested.

My memory of her faded, only her words ringing in my ear. Who are you? 

I was a lost god, a forgotten ruler, the remaining energy of a dead world. This world that I created: lush, dark, abundant, fake. I created them. I created them, but I’m not them. They were only wandering illusions, figures of wisping light walking around a shadow world. I wish I could go home, wish I were back with my mother, the faint memory of her warm smile light in my eyes. I don’t remember what it was last like to live.

Caitlin O’Connell