Once Upon A Time in a Girl Far Far Away

Get swept away in the current of Helen Li's dreamy prose about time, introversion and girlhood.

by Helen Li

at some point there was a shift; i changed from a mermaid water child sitting at the bottom of a pool toes touching the algae and eyes wide open staring at the glassy warped shifting air my hair floating in a dark halo around me the tips edged with golden fire that must have shifted to my insides because now something is burning at my lungs and I am in this warped air and my body is in fractals and I’m so dazed and confused and removed from the warm summer fluid and my eyes feel so dry and tired and all they want to do is close and i haven’t swam in ages the water looks too bright under a dimming sun and i am too dry to be wet.

at three pm the light hits the glass just right and sprinkles rainbows around the chamber. the girl likes to twist in her bed and play with the vibrant prisms and arch her back and suck in her stomach and pretend like she is pretty and that the light makes her pure. this girl is a strange one, a dreamer who thinks that if she stares, focuses, and thinks hard enough she can condense the roy g biv into indigo turquoise green singular colours.

at five pm she thinks that perhaps her strange brand of magic has worked because now amber auburn patches streak the walls like the blood of goldenrods and marigolds juiced in a blender until mango flesh smooth and rubbed against pale lavender wood.

a girl in love with third person, in love with the perpetual watcher watching her fall in love but then who is second and are you or is she me?

i think that sitting on saturn’s rings would be fun. lovely and silent. but not true silence. there is the sound of a record spinning without producing music, that slow whisper brush on vinyl satisfactory and smooth and like everything is pushing and coalescing in the right direction. maybe when i am comfortable enough in the golden dust i will hear vintage music playing, but from far, far away, and it is quiet and disjointed and musky and staticky but in a good way.


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Helen Li lives among the trees in a small town near Charlotte, NC. A forever romantic and dreamer, she wears white dresses and sleeps with the windows cracked open and cries at sappy romantic comedies. In a perfect world, she would roam the world with her camera and a briefcase of paints, paper, and books.