Lily Wass attends the Bronx School of Science in New York. She is a natural writer, as proven by her 2 pieces below. The first piece, “The Park,” is a commentary based on Lily’s experience of staying in New York City for the summer, in combination with a story her friend told her about Washington Square Park. “The more people I meet who aren’t from the city, the more I’ve come to realize how much my environment has influenced who I am and I hoped to capture that perspective with this piece.,” says Lily.
“This Is What I Know,” Lily’s second piece seeks to explore her evolution from a child to teenager, to who she envisions herself being when she’s older. “Instead of giving you direct descriptions of myself, I used very short anecdotes and feelings I have had, to try to paint you a clearer picture because these are all things that have influenced who I am in some way,” explains Lily.
Thank you for submitting. We can’t wait to hear more from you, Lily!
The glisten of sweat never leaves my body in the summer. As many frigid showers that I take still, it persists. What models present as a dewy glow is a sticky burden to me, a look I could never pull off. The heat is suffocating; I can barely breathe after walking three blocks. But I’ve made it to my destination, the only place I’ve wandered with purpose for the last week. Lying with her on the steamy grass we’re not really here. We’ve just landed in foreign lands, decked out in our skimpy bikinis and everything. The splash of the fountain is our waves and the trash littered lawn is our sand. Many other beachgoers join us here, except they don masks of tourists and businessmen and downright crazy people screaming about the world ending. They’re all closing in on us, two little angels curled up on the grass in a city of filth. Our only escape is the music flowing through the earbuds we share, soft gentle whispers of Simon & Garfunkel.
I always hated how New York looked in the movies. This is a city filled with people who climbed and f*cked their way here, and who are still climbing and f*cking to stay here. It’s someone threw up in the subway car but it’s so crowded you just have to endure it Mondays and rotten garbage cooking on the street because they forget to do your block Tuesdays. When was the last time you saw that in a movie? Taxi Driver comes to mind.
Everyone else has replaced us with new places and new people while we’re left stuck in the same old, the only girls left in an abandoned rotting place. We’re trapped, waiting for something great that will never come. This is my mode for the next two months. I wish I could turn my dials and fill myself with sweet concoctions like motivation and curiosity for a city that so many dream of while they’re drifting off to sleep in strange, suburban lands. Instead, I’m content to be bored and lonely, my only comfort stretched out next to me on her rainbow blanket. I’m scared to exploit this treasure I’ve been given, this place I love a little too much. I can’t get sick of baking in the swampy heat sipping our icy drinks while some guy blows cigarette smoke in my face and laughing at all the clueless foreigners who would die to take a picture in front of the hip-hop dancers just so they can tell their friends that they saw the REAL New York City, grit and all that. They are blind. When I go home I will wake from this hot hazy dream, but for now, I am content to stumble through my fantasies with her as my guide.
This Is What I Know
I am tiny and every day is new. When I fall down I cry because that is my instinct. I don’t know what embarrassment is, or the illusion of maturity. I am raw and untouched, mothered by the cedar trees that line my suburban home. Nothing can go wrong here. My parents kiss me goodnight and tell me they love me and that is all I need to be happy. I’m scared of the dark and most of the time I’d rather sleep in their bed because that is where I am safe. I trip over myself down the stairs on Christmas Day, not to open the presents but just to look at them because I don’t want the surprise to be over yet. The first encounter I have with fear is jumping into the pool without my floaties and praying that I don’t sink. Each morning is weathered dolls and Lego cities and sweet dew on the weeds. I am not killing time, I’m using it. My little brain can’t remember a time before this one, neither can it imagine that this is not forever. This is all that I know.
I am taller but not that tall and my skin is permanently oily and my bra straps are too tight. I find myself staring at bones that poke through my skin and waiting for curves that will never come. The music is always loud and I want to dance but I don’t. Sometimes I laugh so hard my stomach starts to hurt and sometimes I cry and I don’t even know why. I’m a little girl in big girl armor. I find comfort in thunderstorms and beaches that appear untouched if you squint hard enough; they wash away the dirt that is my lungs in a city where it is inescapable. I count down the minutes, the hours, the days to some unknown deadline that I don’t really want to reach, looking for a better time that won’t last. Five more minutes until I’m out of this class, two more hours until school is done, twenty more days until the year is over. This is what I know now.
I am old and my body won’t stop hurting. I come home to a husband in a house that’s too big for just the two of us, a house that hasn’t seen toddlers and their diapers and miniature stuffed animals in a very long time. The kitchen has the telling haze of roast chicken and grilled vegetables hanging in the air, the only meal he can ever bring himself to cook, and it’s unclear if this scent remains from tonight or the many identical nights that have come before. Wrinkles and marks are growing all over my body, but I don’t have the energy to care. My work is not thinking anymore; it is swift robotic movements that fifteen years of the same job programmed in me. Most of the time I miss my parents and my children who aren’t really my children anymore. I can’t remember my favorite professor’s name or the faces of my high school classmates who said we’d never lose touch and I can only be mad at myself. I’ve stopped counting down the days. This is what I don’t know.