Anya stands in front of her. In the back corner of the exhibit, in the place most suited for hiding, there is a girl’s head carved in marble. This head is Anya’s, but neither of them recognizes themselves in the others’ faces. She admires the detail of the sculpture, though the girl’s expression is somewhat pedestrian. Anya thinks the girl whose head was replicated was not much older than Anya herself.
“Every year I spend more and more time thinking about how little time I have and I still don’t think that’s what makes life so hard. I think it probably just distracts me from other things. I’m exhausted all the time and everyone tells me that it only gets worse,” Anya says to the girl’s face. “It’s invalidating to be told that what I feel, which is so overwhelming, is only some of the pain I’m supposed to feel. I look forward to being done with things I’m supposed to love and if I think about it for too long, I don’t know what I love or what I believe in. I think I should know those things because I’m fifteen. I want to know about important things. But everything feels inconsequential to me, now.”
The girl’s head does not move. Only her eyebrows spread apart, slightly. Her eyes blink. Her mouth opens and her voice comes out quietly. “I have this sort of instinct to either pick up and leave and start over, or give up now. I can’t do that, obviously. I don’t understand what I’m doing here. There are millions of artworks in the world. Someone has picked me out to be in this specific room. And then someone had to decide what I mean to them and what I mean to other people and what I mean in the context of, well, I don’t know, society right now and then put me here.”
“They think you make people feel something,” Anya says. “I think that it’s like a compliment.”
“But I don’t understand why that’s my job. I can hear the people that come here. I watch them. I smell them,” the girl’s head sighs. “I had this dream where somebody loved me. I remember, in the dream, waking up and thinking about whether it was a dream or not. And when I really woke up, I checked again, even though I think I already knew that it was.”
Anya thinks about it. That’s not a dream she’s ever had. She rarely remembers her dreams at all. She’s never imagined if anyone has ever loved her before. She rarely ever imagines those things. “I don’t have those. But I guess I don’t know if I need anyone to love me,” Anya says. She feels the need to be honest. “I think I just want someone to hold my hand.”
“I would,” the girl’s head says, “However, I don’t have any real ones. It does sound nice, though.”
“It does,” says Anya.
Samantha Eng is a student from Los Angeles, California. She plans to pursue a career as a writer and is currently focusing on poetry and creative nonfiction works. She has been published in Unpublished Magazine, Write the World, and her school’s newspaper and literary magazines.