Natalie Nguyen, Author


Natalie Nguyen


He grasps at ghosts, but the color of her eyes is just out of reach. Soon he won’t remember those gentle features, that bright smile eternally young. He’ll be all that’s left, the zombie to her angel, his face warped by time and drenched in ink.

For years, weeks, minutes he lies there, alone, awake, reciting words he wrote to her that she’ll never hear. Numbness towards stifled truths and missed funerals returns to rage. He crawls out of the cot, a boy once more, facing stony, windowless walls. He lets them put on his chains, march him out of the cell and beyond the gate.

In the courtroom, the verdict is forgotten. Acid tears crawl back into his eyes and leave his cheeks dry and unscarred. He grieves upon being uncuffed. At dusk he breaks into a run, traversing the familiar streets of home alone under the rising rain.

Moving backward while always looking forward.

He arrives at the body.

He cradles it, sobs over it like it’s still her, wishes he could turn back time. Then he lowers it and steps away, swallowing his cry, youth rushing back into his face. He turns the corner, doomed to miss who will do this to her.

She stirs. Her body is lifted from the ground onto its feet. Exposed blood returns to empty vessels. The knife heals the ruined flesh of her neck, and those glazed eyes flicker back to life, and the shadow tiptoes into the bushes.

Evening becomes afternoon; day becomes dawn. She rushes back into the house to meet him—her brother. He waves goodbye like he’ll see her again. He takes her into his arms, and he smiles at her, and in his heart are all the things he wishes he could say to her but doesn’t.