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The King's Palace

By: Austina Xu

I never realized how much I missed the outdoors until I stepped outside and opened my eyes to a scene of oak trees and yellow dandelions. Sure, I may have been spending an excessive amount of time in front of a duly lit screen, but never in my life did taking a stroll through my neighborhood induce a similar childlike wonder as walking through Disneyland. My hands lingered hesitantly on the door knob; as much as I wanted to tackle the excessive pile of schoolwork that awaited me, my aching back and stiff-as-a-stick body begged for change in routine. 

As I tore down my driveway, a crisp breeze ran through my windbreaker while the unmistakable perfume of pine permeated the air. I couldn’t help but feel slightly embarrassed by how foreign the trees in my very own neighborhood felt, as if I were a hermit crab leaving its shell for the first time. I stared off across the hills and examined the scene: a green velvet blanket of trees, the occasional vulture or blue jay that would soar across the sky, and sunlight silhouetting the distant buildings in a luminous orangish yellow; a sight that would have normally whizzed past my car window on a typical ride home from school. As I sulked upon the misfortune of enjoying the world’s luster alone with no one to share it with, a piercing sound reminiscent of a cat combined with an unnaturally syncopated laugh interrupted my thoughts. I turned to my right and was greeted by one of our neighbor’s peacocks, a majestic specimen of a bird whose call could only be described as a forfeited attempt by Mother Nature. Despite the rattling greeting, peacocks were a common sight in our small neighborhood, but more importantly, at least now I had someone with whom I could share the view. 

After some neighborly exchange, I continued along the trail and entered a section of road framed by dense greenery and orange wildflowers alongside the dew-covered cement that ever so slightly reflected the treetops.I approached a large oak tree around which my feathered companion was snooping for food. On mornings my father drove me to school, rays of sunshine would peak through the web of branches, like an actress hiding behind a curtain, preparing for her stage entrance. That day, however, the sun had already revealed herself in the blue afternoon sky, and the sunrise I had always taken for granted had slipped through my fingers. I glanced enviously at my fellow resident; as lovely as that cloudless afternoon was, I wished I had been there with him to witness her performance.

As dusk began to fall, I began to retrace my steps home, taking in the hillside view one last time before it would be replaced by a pile of unfinished worksheets. My neighbor, now perched upon a black Victorian fence, called out to me once more and ruffled his emerald tail feathers in farewell. I glanced up at him, his glistening turquoise feathers revealing hints of royal purple; an elegant robe of burnt sienna, gold, and undersea green trailing behind him; an indigo crown placed upon his head. How had I not realized that I had the privilege of spending time in this king’s palace?


by: Luce Cada

day one. 

did you really have to wake up this early? it feels like you didn’t get enough sleep, didn’t get enough rest. you took a break, which seemed to suffice at the moment — but now two and a half days never seems like enough. 

there’s the heavy onset of running thoughts and to-do lists to complete, and your legs are weak as you go through your morning routine that is starting to bore you every single day — and yet you never change it. 

every beginning seems to give the world an opportunity to unload all its work on you, all to finish over the course of what seems like a few hours. time is fleeting, and it’s never enough. 


day two. 

it has barely begun and you’re already wishing it were day five, but what good will it do? there’s not much to look forward to, and you’ll always end up filling your time with work anyway. 

another day, another set of work, another due date to add to the calendar. being cooped up in a room in the same sitting position for hours on end is already taking a toll on you — and it’s only day two. 

part of you is wishing you could just lie down in bed and talk to your family or friends all day, or maybe read a book or watch some shows. will there be time tomorrow or any time in the next few days? you sure hope so — the week seems longer than usual. 


day three. 

it’s already the middle of the week, and somehow the end still feels so far away. maybe things will lighten up now? you could never really tell with work. you’re already losing brainpower, and you still need to pull through for the last few days. 

you can taste it on the tip of your tongue, but how fast will it melt once it comes by? you stare longingly at the clock, at the calendar, and keep on hoping it’ll pass by faster and faster. they always say watching makes it go by slower, but you can’t help it. 

should you take a break? how much work is left — nope, it’s better to finish it now. it’s better to get sleep, too. if only there were more hours in a day to rest and talk to your friends. it feels like it’s been forever since you’ve seen them. 


day four. 

come on, you’re so close! well, not really — it’s the final stretch, you’re nearly there to day five. it feels a bit longer than usual, right? 

your brain is weaker than it should be, but you really, really want to finish all of this to be able to relax on the weekend. your to-do list is overflowing but it’s all right — you can do as many things as you can today and continue them tomorrow. you can only hope that there won’t be a lot of work assigned tomorrow. 

at least you have something to keep you going today — tomorrow is day five. 


day five. 

it’s finally come, and everyone around you is beat up as well. it’s been hard on everyone, as it always has been. you’re slugging through the day, waiting for everything to be finished off so that you can have a night to yourself. 

there’s a hint of joy and a whole lot of exhaustion in the air, just waiting for it all to end. you rush through work just so that you don’t have to do it over the weekend, but there’s still some left. you hope it won’t take up too much of your time. 

your body feels weak and yet you say yes to the invite to hang out, just so that you can feel a bit more free. part of you keeps thinking about how you still have work assigned and you have to finish it, but do you regret it when you come home at midnight? nope. 


day six. 

you wake up late, but early enough to get to your working spot in the library on time. you didn’t get much sleep, but it was more than all the other nights of the past few days. 

half the time you’re there, you’re distracted by books and shows that you’ve wanted to catch up on all week. it’s all right — you deserve it, at least. you can’t help yourself, but the productivity disappears. 

you decide to meet up with your friends again, and somehow, it lasts through the night even though you planned to leave early. how often do you get the chance to break the rules, to run wild on the streets and make loop de loops in the air? an hour past midnight you’re home, tired but the happiest you’ve been over the past six days. it definitely is a reward. 


day seven. 

waking up near lunch is a strange feeling. you eat anyway and sit down, reminiscing over the memories of the night before as you pull up your work. not much left to do, right? 

somehow, you finish it all and have enough time to actually take care of yourself today — watch something, eat some food, actually get some sleep. it’s been long, but it was worth it. 

you’re satisfied with the hard work and long hours, with the late nights and thrill rides, no matter how tired you’ve gotten. you made it, and you’re here. 

and you start again. 

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