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by Prisha Mehta

The city is cold. Beautiful, yes, but cold. It’s late autumn, or so they tell me. But you can’t tell the seasons apart, not here. Easter may as well fall midwinter; Christmas rears its head in the dead of June.

I have never understood seasons, not as you know them. Winter is not when the air is cold; it is when the world is cold, and warped into a nightmare. When you’ve been here as long as I have, you learn to recognize it by its subtleties — the frost cracking on the twisting pavement, the swirling lines of misshapen clouds, the leering faces that take shape in the harsh net of smoke. Sometimes, years pass between winters. Sometimes only days.

Would you like to hear a secret? The sun speaks to me, in winter. I wait for it to rise each morning, and when it does, it strokes my face and pushes the frigid air away. I wake up every morning, and it says Hello, Child, and I say back Hello, Sun.

Each morning, I ask it, Sun, can you take me away from here? Away from the stark white walls and the sheet-less beds and the thousands of lonely rooms, just like mine …

It gives me a rueful smile. No; it cannot. No one can.

Prisha Mehta is a student at Millburn High School in New Jersey, and she is very passionate about her writing. She aspires to be a successful author one day, and she has won many writing awards, including a Scholastic National Gold Medal. Her work has been published in Spaceports and Spidersilk, Asymmetry, Ginosko, Blue Marble Review, and Stinkwaves, and is forthcoming in Riggwelter, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Body Without Organs. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found scrolling through psychology articles, sketching in her notebook, or, of course, reading. You can find out more about her at prishamehta.com.