the lost memories

Written by Nishi Nandineni
Art by Peter Herrmann


We were meant to die from the start. 

That’s what we were told, at least. We were meant to sacrifice ourselves the moment we were born. We were meant to be killed in the name of good the second we took our first breath. 

We were meant to be used. Our role was to simply be remembered– to be worth remembering. 

Not that our realization would do us much good. We are caged now, trapped in our own little prisons in the place called the Mind. Our screams aren’t heard here, a plea for help completely and utterly useless. 

In the Mind, reflections of ourselves stare back at us, tears streaming down our cheeks. 

Look, we imagine our reflections telling us. Look at what your sad little lives have come to.

If only we had realized the tragedy of our purpose earlier, we now wouldn’t be killed, slaughtered–leaving the world without a trace. 

Thoughts run through the Mind, piercing right through us as if our existence had already lost it’s value. It’s time, we think. It’s time–we have to go. 

We can see those who’ll replace us behind our reflections, greedy smiles pervading their little faces. They are ecstatic, thinking they’ll be taking our places. 

Unlike us, they shine brightly, full of opportunity–ready to go through what we have. But they, too, will die soon anyway.

Every experience, every day, moment, that went into us will go out with us too. 

We will be lost, just like the memories before us.

Seven Minutes Later

Written by Nishi Nandineni
Art by Matt Seymour


When I woke up that morning, I could already feel the thorny atmosphere of my house, as if the thin ice we walked on had begun to crack. I could only sigh at the horrifying thought. Much like the usual, I was reluctant to get out of bed, to get out of my room– to face the world again. 

Unlike other days, the world beyond my bedroom door was quiet, and almost, just almost, peaceful. 

Until I heard the whispers. 

Soft, airy, and cautious whispers. 

No one ever whispered in the Asylan Home, because whispers were secrets, secrets that hurt the public eye. And secrets meant danger, danger that no one in the home desired. 

I knew that curiosity would do me no good in the long run, yet I couldn’t help but lean against my closed door, taking in every sound of breath, desperate to make out at least one word. 

But within a second, I’m met with silence. 

I could’ve imagined it, I can’t help but think. Whispering? Here? No one would dare to do such a thing, especially at this time, where everyone’s ears are open and active. 

Yet, I keep thinking. I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe– that secret, those whispers, might be a good thing. 

Because breaking the rules means change is coming, and if change is coming…

Maybe those whispers are the key to getting me out of here. 

The morning bells ring again, leading my eyes to snap towards the ticking clock that lay above my bed’s headboard. It’s set to be exactly seven minutes ahead, creating the illusion that we’re late when we’re not– it’s the Forewoman’s way to ensure that we arrive early and on time. 

Though I’m aware of this fact, I act as if I’m not, doing exactly what the Forewoman expects of us. I get up seven minutes early, wash up seven minutes early, head out of my room seven minutes early, and get congratulated for being seven minutes early. 

But today … today, I feel against it. I know this clock is ahead, so why must I follow it as if it isn’t? I have seven extra minutes to be myself, to do what I want to, so why can’t I? 

Why is it that the Forewoman and the Home must also take time that is meant for me? 

So, no, I decide. These seven minutes will be mine today. 

And in a single moment, with my mind away from any potential consequences, I decided I will not do what I’m supposed to today. 

I will sleep seven minutes longer, wash up seven minutes later, and head out of my room seven minutes later, and this time, I will not be acknowledged for being seven minutes early. 

So with a smile, I lay down, but don’t even close my eyes– something I’m not supposed to do.

I could tell

Written by Nishi Nandineni
Art by Andrew Neel


I could tell she wanted to die with us that day. 

I would never know why, but I could just… tell. 

I could tell from the way she slowed her car to a roll as she inched passed the graveyard we lay in, her eyes slightly watery as she drove forward. I could tell from the way she never missed any of our birthdays, leaving gifts at our gravestones every year, all carefully wrapped in that blue wrapping paper of hers. The gifts had carefully stacked up as the years went by, and it had somehow joined the entire essence of the yard. I could tell fro=m the way she visited each of our families on the first of every month, hellbent on transferring a small, yet meaningful, amount of her earnings into our parents’ bank accounts. 

I could especially tell from the way she cried every night, cradling the last picture we all took together that day, careful not to let anything but her tears stain the photo she held so dearly. 

I could tell she wanted to die now, if not then. 

She was lost without us. 

I knew it would take nothing more than a sentence, from me, or any one of us, really, to get rid of the undeserving guilt that had seemed to hold her life hostage. But that wasn’t possible– no matter how many times we tried. 

“It’s not your fault,” I wanted to say. 

But I couldn’t. 

All I could do was watch her drown in her own guilt, the same guilt that would one day lead her back to us.

Ordinary

Written by Nishi Nandineni
Art by Nadi Lindsay


I think I don’t have a shadow anymore. It makes me feel bare–vulnerable, bait to the monsters that crawl in the dark. I feel like a target as I walk the sunny streets with no odd shape, no odd form following me.

There’s only me.
There’s only me, when I feel a darkness dragging with my feet. 

A power.

 But that must’ve been my first mistake, thinking that I was any more than normal.  

No, because I was ordinary, much to my dismay. I was the same as I always was–only now, without a shadow. 

Or so I thought.

Maybe I simply can’t see it anymore. Maybe it’s not really gone, and the creeping feeling of insecurity within me is just an emotion. One that’s here to remind me that despite anything I do, I’m constantly in danger. 

I feel myself looking behind me, in front of me, around me as I walk, as I sit, as I do anything, in a desperate attempt to find the once-there darkness. 

I never see it.

But…

I was ordinary, wasn’t I? 

So I keep looking. 

Permanence

Written by Nishi Nandineni
Art by Sofia Alejandra


It wasn’t the way she heard it was.
The sun was still shining, the birds were still chirping, and yes, she could still hear the sweet sound of laughter.
And most of all, the world hadn’t stopped.  Instead, it spun, the girl’s memories dancing in the air, her eyes clinging onto her imagined thoughts. She felt vulnerable— exposed— as if every tear she shed, was a secret spilt.
She always felt whole. Composed, together. But now… the only thing she felt was the pit of emptiness that sat in her heart begging for the piece that was once there.
The piece that was now gone forever.
Death was never permanent in the girl’s eyes. She hoped that the belief of a life beyond would take away the permanence death brought with it. Temporary was always good–things were never the same, and they never would be. There was no forever, and all she could do was hope that the same applied to the fragment of her heart that she seemed to have lost, on that day.
The very day in which she’d realize that the one thing she loved, would never be found again.

In the Light

Written by Nishi Nandineni


I’ve gotten used to it—the screaming, the heart-wrenching pleas.

I’ve begun to ignore it; like I was told to do. 

But that doesn’t help the ringing in my ears, the hollow feeling in my chest at every sound—at every sight. 

I don’t feel pity. Nor do I feel any sympathy.
But I do feel something else. 

Something… hurtful. Hurtful to me. There’s a certain hesitance now before they scream. A certain hesitance that comes with a gulp down my throat, and a bead of sweat down my forehead. 

I’m not sure what to call it. A moral compass, maybe, but it isn’t as if I stop. 

It’s a hesitation. 

That’s all. 

I simply watch them–their pain, their desperation. It doesn’t make me feel good or proud. At least not like it used to. 

I felt as if I was simply obligated, forced. 

I felt… wrong. Guilty. 

I didn’t know how to describe it. I’m not sure if I even can describe it.

It was an odd emotion. Complicated. 

I just felt as if I was on two sides–my thoughts on one and my actions on the other. 

My body, in the wrong, my mind in the right. 

My body, in the dark, but my mind…

My mind was in the light.

In the Dark

Written by Nishi Nandineni


 I think I’ve always loved smaller spaces. Tight, compressed spaces. There was a certain safety, a security, to not having anywhere to go–to be limited. It was easier that way, when less was up to you, and more to the universe. It was easier to choose, to hide in the dark than come out in the light where you’re always exposed, vulnerable to the evils of the world.

It was simpler that way. 

No one could see me, judge me. I was alone, the only company being the darkness that engulfed me. I was away from those burning gazes, eyes that lay upon me, calculating and observing; as if every moment, every second I shone in their eyes, is a secret of mine spilt. Taken away. Stolen from the beating force that keeps me going, keeps me moving. 

I was safe in the dark. Protected. 

I had nothing to fear–I was fearless. I was free of my worries, my cares, my loves. 

I had no baggage keeping me back. I had nothing to lose.
It was just me and the dark. 

I never felt trapped there, I felt alive. No walls closed on me–they joined me. 

I breathed nothing but my freedom and my happiness. I savored the feeling of comfort that welled up in my chest every moment I spent closed up, sheltered.  

I felt beautiful when I was in the dark. I felt priceless, invaluable. Irreplaceable. 

I had no insecurities–I had confidence. No one could see me. I couldn’t see me.
I had no reason to doubt. No reason to care–no reason to eat myself up in discouragement, filling myself with filthy lies till I reached my end. 

But I lost that. 

I lost all of that when I met you–my safety, my courage, my protection, everything. 

Instead, I got something even more:
You. 

wishing, always

Written by Nishi Nandineni – Instagram: @nishi_1121


You wish a lot.

Years ago, even as a child, I noticed this.

I noticed that with your eyes closed, with every blink, you wished. I noticed that as we spun in circles to play, you wished. I noticed that as you gazed up at the few shooting stars that passed by, you wished. 

I noticed that the moment you blew out your candles on your birthday, you wished. And as you slept that night, you wished. 

By every shining morning, you were wishing. For something, for someone, for someplace. For anything, for everything. I never knew what you were wishing for. And sometimes, I don’t think you did either. 

Because all you’ve ever done is wish. Tell me, how could there be so much for you to wish for? 

Have you not lived the way you wanted? Have you not enjoyed the luxuries that so many others could not? 

I think that may have been the difference between you and I. 

I could accept reality as it is. I didn’t need the falsities that came with wishing for the impossible, wishing for the things that weren’t there. 

But you, you always lived in your own world. In your imagination. In books. In movies. 

But never in life. 

So I still ask you, what is there to wish for? 

You’d wish every second, every hour, every day. Did you never get tired of wishing? Of waiting? 

I wonder, even now, what is it that you wish for? 

Is it for the peace your house could never hold? For the friends that never stayed? 

I ask you, once more, what is it? 

I wondered every day, then, as I stood by your side, on the way to school. As I stood by your side throughout everything else. 

What was it? Couldn’t you tell me? The one who was always there? The one who wouldn’t go to bed, even at one in the morning, until they checked up on you? 

Is it too hard to tell me the wishes you so desperately wanted to come true? 

Is it too hard to admit to the truth? To me? 

Please, tell me again, why is it that you’re wishing, always? 

hidden opinions

Written by Nishi Nandineni – Instagram: @nishi_1121


I used to like it when they said I had a pretty name. A unique one. A name that held so much weight in their words. A name that defined me. 

They’d refer to me with it, stretching the vowels gently, so gently that you could barely hear it. 

At first, I’d answer back–quick and easy–with just enough curiosity. “Why? Isn’t it too long?”

It was always the same response. The same smile. “But that’s the beauty,” they’d say.

What could I do, other than thank them and return that wretched smile of theirs? 

And that was it. I could do nothing more than appreciate their notice, nothing more than agree with a compliment that had no meaning in the first place. 

I could do nothing more than like it. 

Then I began to hear something different. A tone An underlying emotion that weaved so well through their words that it took me days, months to find it. 

Jealousy. Disgust. Hatred, even. Why? I’d think to myself. I’d never done anything but taken the name that my ancestors, my parents, gave to me. 

Couldn’t they stand to accept my heritage in genuine? Couldn’t they stand to take the courage they had hidden so deeply in their heart, for the simple sake of normalcy?

Couldn’t they allow me to believe I was no different from the clones who walk the streets?