In Zelda Fitzgerald's Next Life

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she begins slowly, wrapped in the blanket of her father’s adoration and her mother’s soft breasts. She cries, at first, shedding her long sleep, and the life she had before. She drinks and eats and does not know what she is preparing for. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she goes to school. Reading comes naturally and words find their way through her tongue like they’ve been planted just behind it, a rose bush with thorns. If she senses something that tugs her mind, she doesn’t say it. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she learns to ride a bike early. The tires wobble. Her father tells her he is holding on and she’s halfway down the street when she looks back-- 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she wears a scar up her arm, and it is the only flaw she knows she has. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she dances because an echo tells her to. She cannot tell if that echo is male or herself and she wonders why she wants so badly for it to be herself. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she turns 16 and plays in a fountain. Her dress gets wet and her own laughter feels like it’s been torn down the middle. In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she meets a boy who has eyes that threaten to answer all of her questions if she can be brave enough to ask. 

In his backseat she promises never to ask. It is an act of courage. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she goes to college and makes friends easily. In English 101 they read The Great Gatsby. She writes an essay and calls it “A Defense of Daisy Buchanan.” Her professor gives her a C. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, alcohol burns her throat and threatens to dislodge something. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she gets a cat and moves to the city. She writes because she feels like it’s her duty. She paints because she wants to. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she sells enough books to release the dark beating thing in her chest that thumps alongside her heart. 

In Zelda Fitzgerald’s next life, she paints a picture. It is herself, but different. Her smile is not her own but she’s certain she’s felt it before. Her face is not hers but it looks like a mirror. In the space above the signature, she writes two words, and it is cathartic.



Helen Armstrong is a junior Print Communications major. When she grows up she wants to be either Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or a writer, whichever comes first. She's currently brainstorming a gay book about the afterlife, and her dream is to write fiction that is a) entertaining, b) refreshing, and c) not heteronormative. She's editor in chief at locomag.com and tweets a mix of weird stuff and political rants @helenkarmstrong.

Comments