Let me Remember your Sunshine

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Andrea Piacquadio


Memory doesn’t usually work in my favor.
I lose what I love
and I replay what I fear.
Why is my brain so set against
my happiness?

I want to remember yesterday forever:
sweet strawberry bursting onto my tongue,
bubbles floating up and shimmering in the sun,
the warmth from your giant bear-hug.

It’s not fair that
I only get this once a year.
I want to replay your laugh
over and over
until the next year comes.

But what if it never comes?
And I can’t see
through the fog in my brain
to the happiness that surrounded us?

I don’t want to be stuck
in this storm of what-if:
winter will come
but it’s still summer now.

You’re already 247 miles away
but I pretend you’re still here with me,
sitting in a green field of wildflowers,
fresh air brushing my face–
or is that a dandelion tickling my nose?

I’m lying face up,
looking right into the sun:
my eyes are closed
but the sun is still there.
If I burn you into my memory will you stay?
Or will I be blind until next summer comes?

Disaster

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Rizky Sabriansyah


I’m a disaster walking
down the street.

Too many pieces to hold together;
as I glitter in the sun
they slip
and I wait
to come crashing down after them.

My mind and my body and my mind
                             black
I’m a robber of my own future but
I can’t disguise in daylight
so I melt
                          a shadow
bruises under my eyes.

I see everything in a haze
                          see nothing
a lost wanderer
who won’t ask for directions.

Spinning in circles
                           my mind
down the gutter I’m fruit
once sweet but now
                           black
too far gone.

Just need to leave
                           taxi
away, anywhere.
I walk into the street
but don’t raise my hand
                           yellow car
light flashes.

Open my eyes
                           my mind
partially gone
partially whole
I can’t make a collage out of my ugly
                            disaster

Only Wins for Me

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Engin Akyurt


Yesterday marked a new beginning.
Can you see how I walk now
on sugar-coated clouds?

I’m high on my sweat,
like the tang of coffee on my lips
and life just stirs
below me
like a straw waiting for me to draw.

I’ve found the key
to the world beyond you:
the trophy on my nightstand
that has only my name–
it’s waiting for every accomplishment
I fulfill.
And I will win;
yes,
there’s only me to compete.

I will soar above the sun
and become akin to the stars
you wish upon;
I have wings
tenfold
and no storm will tear me
down.

I’m alone
and better for it:
with just me,
Myself,
that self I have loved since yesterday
and will now forever revere,
I will reap
happiness
and never be conquered
by your sadness.

Take Fire to the Ice Pick

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Aidan Roof


In my room
in the dark,
alone,
I remember your face:
it ghosts across my ceiling,
sweeping aside my tousled sheets
with an icy breath down my neck.

I am exposed,
vulnerable
to the nightmare
I don’t want to see.
But you know all my scars,
anyway,
branded them with your name
and made them yours
to share.

There’s a little nick
behind my ear
from the time I wiped out
skiing
and you brought me down
on a sled
and doused my frost-bitten skin
in hot chocolate.

I never thought straight to begin with,
but your hot and cold
and cold cold
cold made it harder
to remember who
this girl is.
My mind is snowed in
with hallucinations.

I’m stuck
frozen
in this body
I don’t understand.
I wonder how I would feel
cut open
and deposited into my hands.
Would my heart beat?
Or is my blood too thick
with ice
to make me anything more
than a sculpture?

In my room,
alone,
I light a candle
to everything we were
and learn how fun it is
to play with fire;
with every finger that curls into me,
leaving blackened smoke
and withered ash,
I hope I am not burning
myself
for you.

A Moonlit Dinner for Two

Art by Yan Krukov
Written by Gabriella Troy


I meet you for dinner once a month,
a cycle meant to strengthen the bonds of womanhood
between us, shared hugs and laughter and support
but we fall, together.

We share silence stretched between stunted words,
lies and pretty nothings, bony fingers fisted around a fork,
a stab through the plate to the heart,
pushing away.

Green beans take circles around our plates, coffee dark
as our eyes burns the path to our empty stomachs,
but the bitterness is sweeter than our breaths,
whispering incomprehensibly.

I watch you grow into someone I do not
know, how I look is a mystery
in a house void of mirrors, in a mind void of
anything good.

What was once between us is invisible
under the dimness of the moon, each cycle
we tried too hard but not enough, and all this time we grew
apart.

Merry Christmas

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Kristina Paukshtite


I shake the snowglobe, watch sparkles float to the green-tipped grass. It is winter, but winter is not cold; it is snow and cocoa and magic. 

Every house is decked in lights, flickering rainbows as though they come from the laughter and sweet memories inside. Your laughter was the loudest of all, your smile the greatest ornament to my tree.

I picked a crooked tree that year. On Christmas eve, it fell over, spilling brown needles into the presents. It couldn’t bear the acridness of a clogged chimney and charred cookies and dissonant carols. There were no presents. Your ornament was made of glass.

It was the time of childhood when senior parties gobble up the weekend and children pretend not to know the taste of chocolate milk, of honey and tulips that warm the stomach better than vodka ever could. 

We grow out of friendships when things get hard. When winters turn to dead leaves and leaky faucets and loneliness that hurts more than the smile you try to wear at reunions. 

I’d like to say I’m having the time of my life in college town. So much fun that I can’t remember nights or throbbing migraines, just the butterflies in my stomach as I move to my favorite song. Of course I don’t want to go home. 

You’re not home either; you’re up in Canada eating ham with your girlfriend’s family and using their free pass to waste away on the slopes. I wonder if you’re avoiding the silence at home and the knives of what once was. I wonder if you remember me at all.

I want to smash the snowglobe into a million shards, like that town did to my heart. Like you in that town with your beanie pulled over my ears, your breath thawing my hands, shattering my soul.

10 things you left behind

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Rodnae Productions


10 pencils scattered behind my desk, under the kitchen sink, at the bottom of my backpack
yellow #2 ticonderoga (you were too good for mechanical)
erasers gutted from too many mistakes
teeth marks gouged in deep thought
homework not completed

9 coke bottles on top of the fridge
your sweet, bubbly impersonation
my vessel for at-home chemistry experiments
i saved them from recycling

8 semesters of schoolwork in my basement
you forgot they were there;
a newspaper clipping from your mom’s high school band is stuck in a pile too
i can’t read your chicken scratch-
the ink bleeds from flooding anyway

7 plastic spoons sit in the cabinet with hot sauce,
ready for the afternoon adventures of the week
you loved picnic lunches
i never kept forks or knives from the school cafeteria
but you never dared to used any other utensil

6 stamps in the card for free coffee
we went many more times but i always forgot the card-
or you lost it
you have a coffee addiction;
i liked quiet cafes

5 bracelets next to scrunchies worn daily
three from the summer when my sister taught us friendship bracelet patterns
two from my birthdays; all a girl wants is jewelry
I lost the last one when we jumped off the bridge (legally)

4 sticky notes on the jacket closet door
whose turn was it to clean the bathroom?
we never bothered to make a cleaning playlist (the bathroom wasn’t cleaned often enough)
romeo and juliet spouting love (we don’t understand shakespeare)
the smiley face you drew with sparkly pink pen

3 pictures on the wall beside my bed
the anniversary of every year we had together:
                   i) on a roller coaster with your hands over my eyes–you know I’m afraid of heights
                   ii) pie with fresh peaches from the farm in Massachusetts
                   iii) thanksgiving with my grandparents

2 sweaters hung between my first-date dress and my first-failed-test sweatpants
the classic college crew neck-
it’s mine since I went there too
the touristy hoodie from your hometown-
i’ve never been there

1 broken heart
cluttered with the remnants of you
I struggle to hear it beating in my chest

Happy New Year

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by cottonbro


Mom welcomed me on the couch when I finally decided to return home. I usually avoid home, where the air is ripe with beer and the paint is chipped on all three walls and the mailbox is off its hinges–no one knows its address anyway. 

It was a bit harder this time, without you to play mediator. I like to cry and smash plates and scream words that can’t be taken back. I like to get into an argument about who’s capable of raising a family and who’s grown up to be worthy of anything, but mom kept her eyes closed the whole time.

It was just me and mom this year. I don’t know why I came back; everything good was gone except all the dolls and legos that were replaced by wine bottles in the basement. I had a party all on my own, the ceiling spinning with a disco of stains and blood and meaningless dreams.

I made a lot of promises to myself that night. They went something along the lines of sobering up to smile at life and never returning to the sickness of home. But home plagues me anywhere I go, dragging me back when I think I can see the sun behind the clouds. New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken.

Even the most perfect people are incapable of staying true to their word. Life doesn’t turn out as planned, no matter how many twists and turns you list, no matter how simple buying groceries is supposed to be. Sometimes perfect people turn their backs on purpose. (Perfect people don’t exist).

I thought you were perfect for me, until I found myself alone in my dorm drowning in lost hope and regret and whiskey. My dorm is the only place I ever am, but my roommate doesn’t know my name. I don’t know hers either.

I wonder how life would have turned out if the sun hadn’t burned through dad’s lifeline and I hadn’t tasted my first sip of heaven from mom’s cabinet after you left the hospital, left me in tears, incapable of looking up from the ground. I learned my lesson: never wear sunscreen.

Maybe next year I’ll succeed in avoiding home. That’s a resolution I’m more likely to keep: I’ll send a postcard decorated with flowers and candles and tombstones to remind mom that the house still exists. And there’s a home where she can finally breathe.

Thoughts in the Bathtub

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Sunsetoned


The world is so peacefully silent
when your head is below water.

Soap suds float around your head
like clouds, and I can imagine
I’m in heaven, where there are no problems
like divorces and money and food
and everyone is too drugged up on ambrosia
to care about the world.

Water plugs up my ears
and drowns out my thoughts
so all there is
is the water, and me
and I cannot tell where the water begins
and I end.

I want to stay forever in the bathtub
with the sweet dream of ambrosia.

Sleepovers

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Liliana Drew


Mommy liked having sleepovers sometimes.
I told her that my room didn’t count,
that sleepovers were at your friend’s house
where you ate dinners you’d never heard of
and devoured their stash of popcorn and m&ms
while watching movies until hours past your bedtime.
But she insisted it was an adult sleepover,
since she was in a bed that wasn’t her own
and I was her bestest friend in the world.

When daddy was away, we planned great parties
to make him jealous.
We baked cookies with extra chocolate chips
and danced to Hannah Montana songs
in our matching pink onesies
and stayed up till three telling ghost stories.
I always woke with a smile and bounded upstairs
to tell daddy all about the adventures he’d missed,
if he was there.

I don’t know why daddy always stayed in his office so long,
when he could have been having all this fun.
But he didn’t like sleepovers anyway.
He claimed sleepovers weren’t for dads like him,
but I think it’s because he didn’t have a pink onesie
to fit in with us.

Even if daddy was home, mommy came
in the middle of the night sometimes.
Barely conscious, I could feel her wrap
her lavender-scented arms around me
and press her damp cheek against my hair
(she always washed her face before bed).
I always reminded her that she had her own sleeping bag
in the corner from all the parties we planned,
but she liked being in my bed when she came so late.

I haven’t told any of my friends about our sleepovers.
They’d think it’s weird, and I should probably grow
out of sleepovers like everyone else,
but sleepovers are our precious little secret,
a night of happiness without care,
just between my mother and I.

Recently mommy decided that we should move
our sleepovers to the hotel by the river.
Usually we only get to go to the hotel for christmas,
when grandma and grandpa come and
we get pancakes at the morning buffet.
It’s like magic every day,
waking up in a white fluffy bed
that I never have to make on my own.

I wish daddy would join us in our sleepovers,
but mommy reminds me that
he doesn’t like sleepovers
and he wants to be alone for a while.
I’m worried something’s wrong,
but mommy assures me that someone named Marissa
will make sure he’s okay.
I’ll just tell him all about my sleepovers
when we finally go home.