Illustration: Rame Abdulkader.

At the end of the day, I am alone.
It doesn’t matter how many smiles are shared with friends –
By nightfall, I lie awake, crippled by loneliness.
I have a habit of pushing people away,
But as I sit here, helplessly scrolling through happy faces and laughter
Greater hatred for my inability to connect, my constant withdrawal, grows
It creeps into my garden like Devil’s Snare as seeds of doubt and anxiety dig deep pits into my lungs
More conversations are shared with the moon and stars than those of flesh and blood
I have no one
I know no one
I am no one.
It hurts.
You’re used to it, but it hurts.
Almost in a numbing, comfortable way.
You don’t know what you’d be without this weight you carry in your chest
But you feel it.
The pain.
The aloneness.
The darkness.
Until that dark turns to charcoal and slowly to grey,
A sliver of light that reminds the you that you once were that is buried so deep that hope and life and love are real
Turn your face to this light.
Breathe it in.
Let it fill the cracks in your skin, kiss the bruises on your heart, mend the scars that reopen every time your lips touch a bottle.
Put it down, breathe air, breathe light.
One day, the glow will return to your face, the stars to your eyes.
Not today, maybe not even tomorrow.
But soon.
I hope I meet you then,
As a supernova with skin.

Cassidy Best, fifth-year communications.