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anxiety

Illustration by Nicole Rifkin

The Ash Swimming Pool

It had been nearly fifteen years, and no one Ali knew looked much like the way they had when they were younger. She wrote Grace’s name on a piece of paper in red felt tip and held it at arm’s length in front of her. In the rush of bodies, the automatic doors that led to the baggage carousel barely had time to close before opening again. There had been some kind of strife—though not a bomb—and there were police, a couple of soldiers moving with intent back and forth through the building. The glass walls were stained with cigarette smoke. In the food shops there were near fights at the discount sections: half-price carrot sticks with hummus, blood-colored smoothies, pita bread. She was so afraid of planes that sometimes, at night, she thought she could hear their seizing rattle, the doomed click of an engine shutting off 36,000 feet above her house. In the e-mail, Grace wrote: I’ve got nothing but air miles, I’d love to come and stay for a bit.

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

Holding

This is how it is with my mind, heading out over the ocean, tipping one way so I see only water, shades of blue and green and cloud-shadow slate; tipping the other, all sky and complication of cloud. Ruckus of glinting refracted light. Some days, just empty gray, in both directions.

The University and the Pursuit of Happiness

October 12, 2015

Her skin was dryer than usual. Her eyes had deeper bags than a student in her twenties should have. Her hair was pulled back severely in a way that demanded the least possible care. And she was speaking at a rapid rate about how she needed to take eighteen credits—six courses—to fulfill her plan to complete a double major in chemistry and French. This was supposed to be an advising session to help a second-year student choose her major and courses for the next semester. Instead, it became something more urgent.