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Old Meets New
by Tasneem Massarweh


A Biography of Days that Mattered Most

By Asma Alabed

I threw my head into the ocean. Off the East Coast not far from where we lost our first kisses to boys who did not know a thing about what the particles we were made of meant. Mistaking my pixie dust for that of saw. Do you remember?

Somewhere solid silken sirens scream for my skull but I already threw it. I threw my head into the ocean and there is absolutely nothing you can do. I screwed it right off and threw it.

Two Suicides

I’m not sure what to make of it really. One second she was here whole, and the next I was left with pieces of fragmented comets that each burned with the poison of her smiles and seared my skin right off. I collected all those bloody pieces, though. Like a rotten deck of Pokémon cards that are worthless to anyone born in the new millennium. I loved her.

Riddle me this. I swam to the deepest depths of the ocean. Unimaginably deep, where the creepiest creatures creep. Not just the one off the East Coast but every single ocean, every body of water. Every hydrogen double oxygen bond from the sewers to your sink, I was there. I could not find her head. Or her heart, frankly. I think we damned her. Do you remember?

Two suicides

We remember.

We remember forgetting everything, from how your name sounded rolling off our tongues, to how she always smelled of Saturday morning cereal excitement. What is one meant to say with the knowledge of knowing what we wish we did not know? Knowing that every duskanddawnandduskanddawnanddusk would rise and set and rise and set and rise and set and the sunlight wouldn’t even reach the symmetry of both your faces six feet under.

We remember everythingnothingsomething.


have to


No. There are no last words. There is no farewell. There is no thingsIwishIsaidJesusChristthiscantbereal. The tale ended before we began. Six feet under (or maybe five?) It doesn’t matter. This is how you grow. Starring the pieces of you scattered around the globe, bits disassembling but you are convinced this is growing up.


She is fifteen years old. Fifteen meters away fifteen words are uttered.
“We are moving to Dubai, you cannot fight fate. America, here is the first piece.”
Her mental film can only handle the reception of a telescope and it takes time for her to appreciate the kaleidoscope between her palms.

She is sixteen, lost between the lights of merry-go-rounds in a place called ‘Festival City’ that appears more daunting than festival like. Her sweet sixteen is spent with strangers who see her pupils rather than her eyes, and see life as a random assortment of events rather than a delicate pattern of coincidences on purpose. Today, they do not speak.

She is seventeen years old. Falling prey to snake charmers yet noticing she is mastering the pungi herself. A wandering existence of a hypocritical girl, an Indian folk art instigated by growing venom inside of her. Nothing is relevant and everything matters. Who Cares and Every Second Counts. An imbalanced organ of a human being occasionally balanced out by beloved pieces she has met and collected in her heart of hearts.

She is eighteen, and things have begun to click. THE FUTURE IS NOW, and all sorts of other petty slogans run freely in her head. A graduation, a move, a rite of passage within 365 days split between the desert and the tundra known as Bay and Bloor. New setting, new faces, new pieces to jumble up and store for later. But later never comes.

At nineteen she is left with jumbled pieces. Rather than the chance to figure out the puzzle, a new empire launches itself onto her, known to some as the Ottomans. Some nights were Turkish delight and some were Raki sans peaches – beautiful and bitter all at once.

She is twenty. She carries her jumbled puzzle pieces with her, not as an unsolved mystery but like a magpie. Hoping the shine from her pieces may attract what comes next. And twenty-one comes. And twenty-two. And twenty-three.


And that is when she realizes
That there is a deep disassociation
Between the rifts of my fingers
That have worn themselves dry reaching for our allied anima
And between the morass that has become who I am

There are no common grounds
Only red stained woodwork from battles we were bound to lose
And white coated crystals from salinized tears

Do not put yourself on display
Do not allow yourself to be fooled by
“Be Yourself”
For the calamity of truth,
Comes with calamity of consequences
That no amount of words
No amount of lingering looks
No amount of unacceptable acceptances
Will ever mend

And that is our biggest tragedy
That you will always love an abstraction of “I”
But never the reality of “me”

The grace of her golden fears
A woven turbulence glides down her throat
A rattling silence within her for years
like a forgotten epitaph, The Forgotten Quote

Gloomy peach season and SanFranDreams
crooked cracked faces in nostalgia mirrors
WhatMajorShouldIDeclare amongst her fraying seams
Holy Terror.

Here is when she cries

Now the reader ponders who is the she
Is she the metaphorical figment of fear that looms upon you?
Tugging at your veins through dense fogs conspiring your future?
Burning your eyes with the sulfuric acid of WhatCouldHaveBeens and the flashing images of things you buried yet never conquered?
Things that clawed their way to the surface, reappearing at the most inconvenient times of your “adulthood”, displaying how you have cultivated your land, your heart, your mind, into becoming exactly what you once turned away from?

Or is it her?

The girl behind the screen writing away, stringing together syllables she hopes will resonate within her
Hoping that one day someone will decipher her messages, the same ones she telegraphed long ago

Belief in the latter is much simpler
Underived, uncomplicated, untragic, unsad, unheartbreaking
Than to face the realization of never feeling the sunshine of childhood wonder on your face, the same rays you saw in her eyes
The same rays that are shining on someone else now

Yes, it is much simpler
To box away worry two doors to the left, right below the cerebrum (who is in a terrible row with medula) locked tight by black neurons that have rotted with my blatant phoniness – I meant her phoniness
Hers, not mine

You, I return years later to the inner most chambers of her heart
Searching for answers to the hollowed foundations of my home
Wondering why her smile continues to haunt me past adolescence
Rattling around for our hidden box of forget-me-nots (Simultaneously praying that medulla and cerebrum have made up and are raising a nuclear family of neurons nowhere near the point of the never ending bewilderment that narrates our lives)
But by chance – fated – I look up at her
And I notice her eyes are still coded
Her childhood sunshine is setting…

Here is when I cry

I dream of drowning
On an uncalibrated Tuesday
Beneath the sunset
With lungs bursting at their seams
Only meters away from an Atlantic shore

My sunlight sank
Anchored by an ill constructed reality
Of what, like a scratch and see surface
Has been won by The Odds
Leaving me forever at a loss

‘Sorry! Please try again’


I washed ashore
And spoke my truths
Yet all they said was…
“Look where the fishwoman goes”


I do not forget your shine
But it is not mine.

Grow up.

Asma Alabed is a Syrian-American Mass Communications student with hopes of becoming a war journalist. Although she loves literature and writing, her deepest passion is for international policy. In her future, she plans on publishing an anthology to highlight works written by Syrian refugees as she travels and documents their stories, which she hopes she can impact with hopes for a happier ending.


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