top of page

The Or in Between

by Dechen Ballantine-Kaplan

“I wanted to do so many things

But I kept being chased by time

There are so many things in this world

But there wasn't a space around for me to rest without worrying.”

-Another Day

from the moment i wake up i’m in that space between awake and asleep. the sound of water running coming from the kitchen, someone humming a tune that i have long since forgotten.

i eat, then i leave the house, my backpack seems to be weighing me down deeper into the earth everyday. as i look around, the same old scenery meets my eyes. everyday that i walk by it is another day of my stomach curling up into a ball of tangled ‘i don’t know’ and i can’t tell where the tangle starts or ends. i want to go see the other side of the skyscrapers and the places where the sea collides to the shore, giving one of those dramatic hugs that you see on tv. but both seem too large to notice me let alone, welcome me. the ocean already is home to sea animals, large and small, it wouldn’t have room for me. and the streets will be too packed for me to even walk on.

the building in front of me now was a small one. brown, with children and teenagers walking in and around.

first class, english. an essay due by this week.

second class, math. finish the first page of questions.

third class, history. read the article and answer the questions.

forth class, biology. watch the video and answer the questions.

fifth, lunch.

sixth, breathe.

eat, even if the taste doesn’t match the food’s vibrant colors, just keep chewing, keep swallowing, keep breathing. but even that simple job of chewing, swallowing, inhale, exhale, makes me tired because what comes after is more classes, more homework, more people to talk to and more smiles that really is only the act of spreading my mouth across my face. and my face gets tired. the second everyone is gone, my mouth falls, frowning deeper than before because now, i’m physically in pain and discontent. the next steps i take are steps towards home.

“Endless fight, endless sigh, dragging yawn

Nerves on the edge, words sharp as knives

Bored of all of this.”

-Another Day

again, at this same exact moment. in front of a colorful meal. the greens, the orange, the dark beans. perfect.

“thanks for the meal.” my voice does not seem to belong to me anymore, because i’m not that thankful. i have to shove this down my throat and pretend that i can taste all the colors when all i taste is gray, and all i see is black and white.

i force myself to eat. to talk to the person who brought me here to this very moment.

“i don’t understand you anymore. what’s wrong with you? you’re always alone, go hang out with your friends!’ she started. there might have been concern in her voice, but all i could focus on was the sharp edges of her tone and how her truth stung me like a bee sting that i wasn’t expecting. something is wrong with me but she would never understand.

maybe i should just sleep in tomorrow, ignore the alarm that blares like it’s ready to fight if i don’t get up.

i lay in bed, sighing. i’ve been in bed sighing for the past 15 minutes. the alarm is still screaming at me, it wants to pounce on me. i yawn again just to anger the alarm even more. this is my morning war, debating whether i should get up or not. eventually the side that wants me to get up wins. the war still goes on throughout the day and bleeds on into the next.

in art class, i was sighing again.

the girl across from me slides a paper to me. “Bored or tired?”

“the or in between” i write and slide it back to her. she smiles. i have never spoken to her, i guess this isn’t really speaking. i much prefer writing because then i don’t have to look people in the eye. i normally don’t speak to people outside of my ‘friends’ and i’m normally in my room when they’re out studying together or hanging out. there isn’t enough space for me when i do go out with them.

“The day I forced my way into the dark room

Would at least one person have turned to look at me

Me, who barely lived through another day

How many times have I laughed, but were they sincere?”

-Another Day

when i walk side by side with my friends, i nod, play along. their laughter rises higher into the world the more excited they get. talking over one another. they step over me and push me to the side. I’m now walking at the edge of the curb, my steps threatening to cross over to the grass on someone’s yard.

art class again, my yawn drags longer than normal, but then again, i’m not normal. something’s wrong with me. the girl across from me slides a note again.

she’s watching me and i feel like i’m being observed under a microscope. she slides another note to me.

“Want to go somewhere after school?” i stare at her. Unsure. she has this shine in her eyes that i have lost and can’t seem to find. where do lost things go? do they end up in a dark room? i feel like i’m in a dark room. lost, looking for my lost things. and i can’t seem to find my way out in this darkness.

“i guess.” i write back.

i follow her after school. the sun is almost going to set. “Hurry!” she’s skipping ahead of me, my wrist in her hand as she drags me along. we end up going further than i expected. so far i think that we’re really lost until i see the sunset. i see the sun sink into the ocean, and i watch. i stare.

“Take off your shoes! Come on!” she’s coming to me and i listen to her. she drags me into the water and splashes me and i splash back. she laughs and i laugh too, but its stranger than ones that i have let out before. it sounds like little bells on christmas and i like the sound of them. i look at the golden, red, yellows and oranges painted over the us and i laugh again.

when it became dark enough, we decided to go home. and i follow her out of the dark room.

“Come on. We have a long way to go.” She says and she grabs my hand. And we venture through the darkness back.

Related Posts

See All

by: Pamela Abreu I always believed cold hands were the best. Always envied those with cool, icy hands. My hands, warm unable to retrieve those icy, cold hands. I encountered his hands. They weren’t co

bottom of page