Alex Harrington ’19

Lily HannaherThis month we are pleased to feature the creative work of Lily Hannaher ’19. Lily is a junior Media and Cultural Studies Major and English Minor, who focuses her English studies on Creative Writing. Lily is a Chinese adoptee from Fargo, North Dakota. Someday, she hopes to publish a novel or make indie films that get racial representation on-screen.

The Tundra (excerpt)

The only obstruction in the sky is the celebratory smoke clouds billowing from the pits of fire created by the Sunder women and Morrow men of the tundra. Dull, snow-heavy skies cemented ice into the air itself for two generations of these tribesmen and women; the kind of cold that hardened a fragility into their bones that they couldn’t imagine ever thawing. Then the day comes that they hear the muted pats of water droplets diving into knee-deep snow banks. And they feel the sun brush their exposed cheeks like the sharp outtake of breath from someone that stands too close. And they are allowed to celebrate the first summer year that some have ever experienced.

They take great care to burn only the branches of white smoke poplars. If they don’t, they know the acrid, black smoke of any other tree will attract the soulless Nocturnals looking for any human that they can turn into a plaything. The sun that reflects off the snow and blinds their eyes and the warmth that sits in the air assuage those fears. The Sunders and the Morrows know just because Nocturnals hunt better at night doesn’t mean the daylight will save them, absolutely. But it is the first sunlight that they associate with life in so long, so they burn the trees and dance with their faces turned toward the sky. Instead, soft white plumes float harmlessly away from the crowd of the last humans on earth. They wear only two layers of deer skin. And they take deep breaths of chilled air that doesn’t hurt their lungs or scrape the back of their throats.

The two tribes pass around the lucky summer children. Five girls and two boys. Unafraid to let a bit of brisk summer air nip at the babies’ fresh pink cheeks. No one has to worry if their tears will freeze in the corners of their eyes, or if condensation beads on the tips of their eyelashes will frost their eyelids shut. The boys will leave their mothers to learn from their Morrow brothers, and the girls will stay and preserve the unparalleled bond amongst Sunder sisters. Yet all the children will grow by the distant hearth of the summer days and the unpredictable nature of the nights on the tundra. For now, we’ll celebrate in the arms of their mothers and fathers and we’ll be celebrated on the lips of their brothers and sisters.

For now, I look into my mother’s eyes for the first time and see the sun and the moon.