Vignette- A love story by Katie Willson Sarna


A love story 


Monachopsis – The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.


Our town was always bustling, with everyone constantly in a rush to get somewhere. But it was never alive. Never, never alive.

The only rest we felt was when there was nothing left to do, feeling such a strange, empty space in our lungs when the structure of our lives seemed to fall away. What were we supposed to do when all of our work was done? Relax? Eat something?

Most people didn’t. I knew one of my schoolmates who never ate breakfast. 




I used my free period one morning to write. Why? I should be researching colleges. I wanted to give the gift now, the sweet taste of chocolate on both of our tongues. I wished silently he would never know what the other side was like, and get the best of only one of the worlds, because the other was too taxing. 

I didn’t want to. I knew I had to be doing work, or I would start to feel the emptiness again in my lungs. Or maybe I was starting to feel a constricting fullness, like a lung full of pollen. I had forgotten my inhaler that morning. 


Time Together.


He, she, her, her. I spent time with all of them and loved it. I felt really alive, staying indoors with the late Christmas lights still up in February, lighting the living room while the wind outside made everything else dead. 

We carved the bird and sat down and ate, laughing about things that didn’t matter while we spent time with those who did. 

We were alive. 

Everything was brief, but always returned to. The brevity of everything meant it was all the more enjoyed, and all the more missed when we didn’t enjoy it. Every wish I made that evening was for the health of my loved ones, or for the power to turn back time. 


Imagining Sitting by the Bed.


I couldn’t bear to think it, so why am I writing it? 

There are so many love stories out there, why write another, anyway? I just want to sit here a little longer. And I’m sorry we couldn’t have spent more time together. But anyways… 

Did you say you need water? Okay, I’ll be right back. 

And now we continue our conversation, but one of us has fallen asleep.

… I know. I love you too, Gran. 

And that had never happened. Simply a figment of the imagination, a small stick from a larger branch of worry. Even though I couldn’t imagine it, she was only sleeping. When she awoke, everything went back to normal and she couldn’t remember my name again. 


Changing Course.


Everything has sped up now. Everything is written with an exclamation point, yelled at the top of the lungs. The same lungs trying so desperately to be full, away from the heart. Loud. Like a train’s steam engine trying to run away from its own thumping against the tracks. 

Everything has felt like drawing a card from the pile and adding it to my hand, just another event to stock up and yell about or never speak of again. Write of. 

Such a simple way to describe things, a strange imagining of all the lives we could live or let pass us by. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?


Visiting the Veins of a Leaf – Interlude


An interlude, finally. How peaceful. How green. 

Touching the stem and veins of a leaf, imagining pulling all the xylem from it. How does it breathe? Seems like a simple question, so academic from the inner workings of your studious brain. Excellent work. 

But I just want to sit here, a little longer, feel a little smaller. I long for the world to continue around me, and it does. Like a mossy rock. Do rocks have to pay rent? Humans do. It’s all strange, very strange. 

Very devoid of love, but full of life. Something that’s simply beyond our town, beyond our thoughts, something we can never hope to understand – unless you become a plant yourself. That would be nice. (Our town is still not alive, never was. That is what separates us, the plants and I, despite the material of the buildings and the cut wood we love to use to build our lives around us. Humans.)

I’m sitting now next to a giant fern in the study hall, typing away and acting like I’m doing work. The moment is over, but I still glance to the plant as if it is still waiting to tell me a secret. 



And to all of the rest: I love them. 

What am I doing? 



I am feeling. All of it is here, right here, never my lungs and always my heart. So hard to leave now, because I have finally become myself. Even with the constant rediscovery and 


I love you. 


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