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DUSK CANOPY by Hodan Ahmed

“What do you mean, ‘I can’t think of anything’?’

I look away from my lap to stare at the sparkling brown eyes and oblivious smile of my most unwanted yet frequent guest as they lounge at my desk.

“Come on, it’s not that hard of a question,” they say, flicking away a few strands of ink black hair.

Feeling their smile grow by the millisecond, I turn my gaze over to the window for the umpteenth time in five minutes, dread setting in as the orangey purple sky tells me otherwise. “It’s as I said, nothing is coming out no matter how hard I try.”

“Objection!” Their hands slam onto the table with a thud, beckoning every ounce of frustration to surface in this room.

Or at least, I assume that’s what they’re going for.

“You’re just lying!” they aim a finger at me as if energy would charge, release as a bullet, and hit me point-blank in the face. “There’s no way you can look at that window and tell me there isn’t a single interesting idea that could come from it!”

“I’m only doing it because unlike you, it actually calms me.”

Unsurprisingly, they gasp, “So you should be getting ideas!”

“It doesn’t work like that.”

“Yes it does! Watch and listen if you want proof!”

Letting go of the table, they crane their neck to get an eyeful of the window. I wonder what that entails since there are only tree leaves that should be a deep and mellow green, framing the snippet of dusk with a dash of rustic nuance that the houses and lights in the background would be lost without.

“Here’s what I got!” they yell while twirling a fragile looking pair of glasses in their hand, “It’s sunset at this average townhouse complex. Skies are almost dark, and the shadowy canopy eats away at what little light is left in the view of one of the house’s windows. Inside, a person muses over their next artistic masterpiece in the basement, and since they can literally hear his screams to finish the whole thing off, they head down to do it. Once down there, they go to their studio room and pick up an exacto knife, the calls getting louder and louder as they step closer and closer, only for it all to stop when they stick it i-”

I sigh, “How old do you think I am, twelve?”

“How’s that something a twelve year old would write? It’s dark, gory, shocking, and just so cool!”

“Ever heard of the word juvenile yet? Because if you want a definition, it would have to be your idea.”

Or my idea.

It sounds exactly the same as the story I wrote when I was twelve.

“Excuse me for at least trying to not be dry!”

Jumping out of their chair, they pounce atop of me with a glowing stare. Claws dig into my chest and legs, but I use my still free hands to punch them away. It went through like there wasn’t a person there at all, but they roll onto the floor. Without thinking, I get on top to be in control, internally cheering that they didn’t take advantage of their short stature to get away from my grasp.

They don’t struggle, but they do smile.

“And I’m a child?”

“Shut up, you aren’t helping me. I’m where I started - nowhere, just as aimless as before!”

“And you think I don’t feel that way either?”

“You’re not real.”

“But you are, so how am I not?”

I punch them once, twice, three times, every single hook going through into the carpet, but despite that, strained screams follow.


One more punch, and the light in their eyes starts to set. The fact that there wasn’t a single hint of blood or any scars didn’t matter because I know that dejection is much more lethal. It morphs and twists to fit a person in a mold, leaving them to live in silence.

But they continue to cling on with hollow gasps, “Isn’t that why you write… to show people you exist, to be on the same stage, to be in a community, to belong…? Did every bit of... energy you have get zapped out of you? What happened?”

I breathe in the moist metallic scent of fresh rain, hovering my hand over their face. One last glance at the window and the now dark sky is enough of an approval for me to choke the air. I wasn’t expecting a reaction, and the laws of the universe finally function as they should.

“I don’t know, but this makes me feel sick.”

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