False Alarm

It was a spring night when I was staring fixedly at the overhead fan, waiting for the man on top of me—my then-boyfriend—to finish. As I tightly clutched the bedsheet waiting for it to end, I could feel the bed moving under me. It seemed like the world was swaying ever so gently. The next day, I scrubbed my skin in the scalding water till tiny clots appeared on my arms.

The following summer, I was laying on my bed staring at the overhead fan when the bed began to shake. I looked up to see the fan swinging in its place like a giant hand had flicked it. Someone on the street below yelled out, “Did you feel the earthquake just now?” followed by a chorus of yeses and nos.

I made no effort to get up—you live long enough in an earthquake-prone area and the initial shock wears off.

Two winters after that day, I was reading a webcomic when I suddenly looked up to check the overhead fan. No signs of any movement. I turned to my sister and asked, “Did you feel that just now?”

“Feel what?”

“Wasn’t that an earthquake?”

“You are imagining things now, I didn’t feel anything.”

Unconvinced by her snarky reply, I checked if anyone had tweeted about an earthquake in the vicinity. Nothing.

The same evening, I was sitting in a boy’s room downtown. We had known each other for a month and after two cursory coffee dates, he had finally asked me over to his place.

To counter the initial awkwardness, we decided to watch a movie. Midway through it, he asked me if I was cold and held out the blanket. He stretched out and hit pause on the movie.

“Come here,” and he gave me a light hug—blankets and all.

“That feels warm.”

“Yeah? I’m known to be a warm person.”

I rolled my eyes at his reply, and he burst out laughing. I pulled away slightly and laid down.

After a second, he laid down next to me, and I could feel his breath on my neck. I turned to face him. He was smiling, his face half-covered by the blanket. He slowly closed the gapand kissed me. A moment later, I could feel his hands coming up to cup my face. Then he suddenly pulled back and asked, “Is everything okay? Did I do something wrong?”

“No, no. Everything’s fine.”

“Then why are you crying?”

“I don’t know… I mean, I do… It’s just been a while since stuff happened.”

“Okay, no, yeah, that’s cool. We could just enjoy the movie, yeah?”

“Yeah. I’m sorry.”

“No, please. I’ll go get you some water, cool?”

As he left the room, I looked up to check if the fan had moved at all. Nothing.

So why is my body still filled with the tremors of that night?

Chingkheinganbi Mayengbam

I am a Master's graduate from Manipur, India. I spend most days wondering if I am doing enough and worrying I am not. When I am not, I try to paint and copy down poems I have found online. Firmly believes that words have the ability to move us to be better. Loves everything pop culture.

Hailey Renee

Hailey Renee Brown is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, she moved across country from Michigan to New Jersey, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, she attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ. She was selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project.