Writers (in order): William Rumelhart, Langston Wu, Emily Hwang, Keiss Chan, anonymous, Irene Tsen, Merrill Cover, Jess Lester, Eugene Cho, Helena Surwillo, Tenzin Chang, Emerson Swift, Sawyer McFarland, and Katie Firtch. Editor: Ms. Wilson.

The first to unravel was the knit sweater. Coming undone thread by thread, the sleeves lost shape unhappily, folding in on themselves in a mutual slump. I watched with perverse amusement as the last vestige of that old time returned to its original helpless tangle.

Next to unwind was the landscape. The hills dissolved, loosening their grip on the white-knuckled rocks, themselves unearthing the trees in a final uprooting of history.

We stood on the edge one moment longer, the night hushed, the center gone—two ornaments of stillness. Then we were away.

We both spun in the powerful cyclone of attraction, turning at the speed of light. It was filled with the most random of objects and most disturbing of colors. I could only make out one thing through the excruciating pain it took to keep my eyes open. A singular post of a white picket fence, one that had stood for as long as I had lived. Its blinding white made all the difference in the dark abyss. Was it a sign?

Well, if it had been one, it wasn’t anymore. As it shattered into a million pieces, I, too, was shredded. I couldn’t feel anything as it had all disappeared. What a way to go out. To think that all I got was eighteen years of a precious life I’d never gotten to appreciate.

Wait a minute—how did I still have consciousness?

Everything returned at once. It was nothing like I’d ever experienced before. My consciousness had remained shattered, and now thousands of sensations flooded my brain—the cold basement floor, the books scattered about on my mattress, the sun filtering through the curtains in the living room, where we’d had our last argument. It was as if I had become the house itself.

I gasped in pain as the sensations rushed through my body, but I attempted to keep an eye on that white fence, the glimmer of hope in this abyss I faced. A period of calm let me reach close, but just then, I felt the most gut-wrenching pain I ever felt. My stomach wanted to tear itself apart while I writhed in pain uncontrollably. Everything spun around me quickly. My senses were stripped from me one by one. First, my taste and sense of smell. Then my eyesight. While I fumbled around in darkness, my hearing vanished as well. I was only left with my touch, so I felt everything that slammed into me, leaving me gasping for air. But all of a sudden, it stopped.

How long had it been? Hours? Seconds? I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t even feel my hands anymore. My vision was starting to come back. The fence remained, an afterimage burned into my soul. My mother’s voice looped in my head—it’s all your fault, it’s all your fault, it’s all your fault. The fence smiled. Another fence post emerged and connected itself to the previous one. After, it became a fence. The voices increased and I couldn’t hear the words any longer. We needed to get out now.

We ran blindly towards the long white fence in the distance, exhilaration pushing us forward, overcoming the exhaustion we felt deep in our bones. What did the fence mean? We were searching for a way out of something we could not name. Unwinding, spinning, darkness and silence, pain—all so vibrant they had to be real, set in a world that was not ours.

Swirling around us were dozens of colors that I could not describe. Dizziness, nausea, and exhaustion all tried to drag us down. Unsure of exactly what we were running towards, we continued. The sight of the white picket fence appeared to be moving nearer but we weren’t close to reaching it. The world around us began twisting and pulsating, becoming something unrecognizable as our reality.

Chunks of debris flew past my head, whistling in the deafening sounds of wind and space. The picket fence, held within a suspendium, was seen to be surrounded by void. The objects that flew close to the fence had warped in color, shape, and disappeared without a trace. I was running forward yet all things around me seemed to be still.

The last time I had felt my heart beat seemed like so long ago.

My legs, seemingly filled with lead as I forced my feet faster and faster, encouraged by the howling wind. Collapsing onto the fence, I curled around it, trying to prevent my body from being pulled around. I cricked my neck up, and felt my hair balloon around me as I saw my surroundings morph and bend into ribbons of reality. The darkness was cutting through, slicing up the world and my life in one go.

One memory stood out from the rest. It was early morning, and rain had tapped lightly on our windows. I came downstairs and found the breakfast I had prepared last night. Mom was passed out on the living room couch. Had she pulled an all-nighter? What for? I pushed these thoughts out of my head and made to grab my breakfast and get out of the house, but I stopped. I thought I had something left to do, so I turned around, back towards the living room.

When we fought all those times ago, I hadn’t hated it. We both had things to say to each other, and we said themit, at the inevitable expense of each other’s feelings. Hate was temporary, anger a passionate outburst. Yet hate was also a big black thing that threatened to swallow us whole if we weren’t paying attention. Then I could only hope that we could get through our bad times together.

Stepping through the front door, I took a look, back inside the house at my mom sleeping contentedly in the living room, and outside at our lawn and the other houses, with children out and about, separated by fences we took for granted.

I had to hurry.

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