first love

by Vanessa Flandorp Tlachi



In clouds going back fifteen years, she rests her head on a cold foreign window. Headphones, pen, and paper her companions. At four she was ripped from the bosom of her birthplace and imported to a land that has had, has, and will always have tension with her people. She shakes away the anger bitterly dancing down her throat and allows herself to become engulfed by the music from her headphones—the lover that never left. It took abuse and abandonment for her to achieve the status of victim so she could be recognized as someone worthy of a Permanent Resident Card, better known as a Green Card. She could not believe it when she held that powerful piece of plastic, which true to its name was actually green. Green like their money. It has always been about the money, she remembers thinking as she was handed the plastic that would finally enable her to go back to her beginning. She reaches for her bag and opens her raggedy old journal. Pen and paper the dependable parents she always longed for. With them, she sketched realities she could escape into when the darkness in her mind held her captive. They would now be her defenders and protectors as she journeys back to her small village and the people who had eyes but did not see, ears but did not hear. Her heart begins to race and everything around her closes in, but she presses pen to paper and raises the volume to its loudest. It is necessary to go back in order to move forward, she writes. For so long, she was angry and unforgiving of a people and a country she did not know, only to realize that anger and unforgivingness were not her friends. Quiero volar como un pájaro en el cielo, she prays. In clouds going back fifteen years, she rests her head on a warm familiar window.



Vanessa Flandorp Tlachi has recently become a wife and is currently living with her husband, Daniel, in Cape Town, South Africa. She has been actively and faithfully writing since 2013 when she was gifted her first journal. She was born to give a voice to the voiceless, which often happens through writing. Her work has previously been published in PEN America’s volumes 3 and 4 of DREAMing Out Loud: An Anthology of Migrant Writing. She has also won an honorable mention in Penguin Random House’s Creative Writing Awards for high school seniors in 2011.

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