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THE SUMMER MY CITY BURNED

April 26, 2022

By Leela Raj-Sankar

 

The winner of Overheard's pop-up flash contest, with the prompt "I Know What You Did Last Summer"




I learned to dance, alone in my bedroom and sweating through my stained T-shirt; the summer my city burned I fell in and out of love in the span of a week; the summer my city burned I was looking for something, anything I could hold onto, but every trail I followed ended in nothing, nothing, nothing, every time I thought I was getting closer to finding the truth it was just another red herring; the summer my city burned I couldn’t stay still or keep my mouth shut or my hands steady; the summer my city burned I knew everything I was brilliant I was on top of the fucking world; the summer my city burned I cut myself open on the operating table and found exactly what I thought I would inside, bone muscle sinew flesh, my carotid artery shining in the moonlight; the summer my city burned I emptied my wallet on every grimy street corner and never spent a penny on what I really needed; the summer my city burned I was a stranger to myself, bad friend good lover mediocre daughter; the summer my city burned I woke every morning to tear stains on my pillow; the summer my city burned I never knew the right thing to say; the summer my city burned I shouldn’t have done what I did; the summer my city burned I sat in the sun and watched the flames; the summer my city burned I was a child a girl a wingless angel struck down by some indifferent god; the summer my city burned I couldn’t tell you what I wanted if it was standing right in front of me; the summer my city burned I knew better; the summer my city burned I thought this isn’t right over and over and over but I didn’t have the guts to say anything; the summer my city burned I was just another face in the crowd, running not away but toward the fire; the summer my city burned was the best summer of my life; the summer my city burned I was doing nothing; the summer my city burned I was learning to fly—

 

LEELA RAJ-SANKAR

Leela Raj-Sankar is an Indian-American teenager from Arizona. Their work has appeared in Rejection Letters, Brave Voices Magazine, and CLOVES Literary, among others. In his spare time, he can usually be found watching bad television or taking long naps. Say hi to her on Twitter @sickgirlisms