By SARA ATTIA
You have woken up for the first or last time in your life.
A. Apple Tree or Mountainside River?
If apple tree, go to B. If River, go to E.
B. Sometimes it hurts to breathe. The weight of what you haven’t managed sits on your chest like a boar. Will
you eat the apple?
If yes, go to D. If no, go to C.
C. In all the different timelines in all the different worlds, the one choice you were not supposed to make was
inaction. Even damnation should triumph over stasis. You live a boring life free of pain or growth, and
die under the Apple Tree you never dared disobey. YOU LOSE. Go back to start. _
D. Congratulations! You have chosen to eat the apple.
You will now embark on a journey of self-becoming from that which you were
to that which to you will be, metamorphosing into something more
brilliant than the last.
The APPLE becomes: your first meal. Proceed to H.
E. Welcome to the waterways, the place of birth, death, travel and omens sent downstream.
The sea verifies your brokenness. The lake proves your love.
Press F for Sea. G for Lake.
F. Your body drags you to the River and
that which you are dissolves.
The water rushes in and picks the bones clean.
Spits them out on the shore.
Reassemble. And repeat.
Reassemble. And repeat.
Proceed to I.
G. Your mother built you a raft when you were young. She’d hoped you’d use it,
not to run away from her
but to bring home the riches of that which was Not Here.
You’ve disappointed her again.
The raft transfigures itself into love,
the River is a throat,
and the world coughs and chokes and you end up in
The belly of the beast
A great and monstrous thing that devours all it consumes.
Life teems here.
Proceed to J.
H. The curve of human history has consistently led itself to this given:
Growth and life and death
Meals and the potential,
even in aloneness,
to invent a new self to wear.
You eat the apple.
The curve of human history dictates you cut down the tree
And in that moment between consumption and deliverance the option for happiness appears
even in loneliness
even in the aftermath of destruction
you might plant a garden.
I. You are graceful when given the opportunity to remake yourself
reassembled, remodeled, reversed and inverse
the potential for life pushes out of the soul.
Your bones are indeterminate, ever-changing, stuck in
A pattern of self-immolation
But still there comes a point of healing.
The bones are not yours, they are you- and you sit with that which you have lost
And bury yourself into the soil.
Just for a moment. Just for a year.
Just until you can begin to grow.
J. The beast shakes its battered body and
Begins to walk. It’s shambling stride
moves on, worn and frail even in its hugeness.
You face a dilemma
the beast stops
you cling to your raft in the middle of an ocean
and hold a sad old creature’s life in your hands,
The beast which carries all your love
And so much life in the lake
That is its stomach.
And you claw it open
And fall into a garden.
*The print copy of this submission includes more art by Hantong Wu ’23. View our PDF version to see print copy.