Zenith, Missouri

by Angela He


It was 3 a.m. The clothes were still spinning, tangling in pink detergent and lukewarm water. He sat on the dirty plastic bench, his back distorted like that of a weary blue-collar worker. His palm awkwardly cusped his chin, and his elbow nervously balanced on his thigh. There was no distinct moonbeam or heaving darkness. Thirty-two minutes remaining, said red. Around him, a mother wearily shepherded her children while half-engrossed in the glow of her smartphone. Top 100 Billboard played above. It was a lonely night, one for contemplating existential crises and the problems of humanity. It was a night you say you’ll remember forever, but never do. Everything fades to a bright bleach in the morning—those thoughts are too much in the Clorox sunlight.

He worried about his ailing mother, his aching back, his interview tomorrow for graduate school. The desolate path of a classics major; half of his friends were working at an investment bank and the other half were making the same Burger King-and-change as he was without the onus of a fifty thousand dollar loan. At least he was happy, he told himself. One day, he would write a memoir in his lofty Scandinavian home, complete with chevron and cacti. One day, he would inspire students at his cozy liberal arts college.

He turned to psychoanalyze the mother in an attempt to resist the pulsing smartphone in his left pocket. Why did she bring her kids here at 3 a.m.? They have school tomorrow, he thought. And I have an interview tomorrow. Perhaps he should talk to them, but he was too tired, like usual. He’s a brave soul, an outgoing, empathetic man. Just not today, maybe tomorrow.

He closed his eyes for a bit, cozying up on the cold bench. The clicking of zippers and buttons against the metal wringer and the woozy lavender sent him into a shallow stupor. He still felt the now-quiet children and woman, the blue glow of her phone, and the scent of lavanderia. (Not Greek, this time.)


Angela He is an LA native and an incoming student in writing and literature at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies. Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, and she has been recognized as a LA Youth Poet Finalist.

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