Photography by Silja Pietilä, 17, Finland
Photography by Safia Henniche, 16, Boston
Dear Readers and Contributors,
I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank you all for the continuous love and support, especially through the pandemic. In just under 6 months, we’ve come so far; the magazine has been featured on Publish YOUth Writing and Poets & Writers, and the editorial team reached a whooping milestone of 400+ Advice Articles written! As we continue grow our global outreach, we’ve published over 280 creators from 25 U.S. States, 25 countries, and 6 continents across the world!
It’s been a pleasure growing this community over the past three years, so I know I speak for the entire editorial board when I say we hold this magazine and our contributors close to our heart. It takes a tremendous amount of research and effort to manage the magazine, which is why we're so thankful for all of your support. We encourage you to share our publications and Advice Articles to help our other young creators who may be interested in pursuing their craft.
Founder, Nonfiction Editor in Chief
The Elysian Muse Youth Literary Magazine
Written by Praniti Gulyani
At first, it all seems normal.
But, as I acquaint myself with this unusual normalcy, I realize that there exists a very thin line
between seeming normal and feeling normal. Things are meant to be normal but that does not
necessarily mean that they are normal.
With these thoughts in my heart, I look at my school bag and softly caress my school books.
Mother pats my head and assures me that all of this is real. But, there is a tear in her eyes. Maybe
she is like me, grappling with normalcy.
As mother walks me to school, I ask her to leave me midway. The children around me have
already begun to take two steps away from me. I see the shape of conversation erupt on pink lips
and I see gazes softly turning to me. When mother refuses to go, I start shouting at her. I know I
will apologize later. At the end of the day, there are certain things that a fifteen year old just
cannot let his mother see.
A moment later, the school building comes into view. It is a towering building, a perfect
combination of white and green with beautifully colored gates. Maybe these flamboyant colors
that glimmer outside are a reflection of what lies inside.
Clinging onto the solace that this thought puts forth, I walk into the school gates. I check my
schedule and read that I will be a part of ninth grade, in Ms Hall’s classroom, which is on the
second floor of the high school block. Suddenly, the feeling of loss overwhelms me. I call out to
two students who look at me and start backing away. Something about me seems to scare them.
In the corner of the corridor, I notice a teacher. With hope in my heart, I call out to her and when
she does not respond, I reach out and tap her elbow. She jumps, screams and calls me indecent
for touching a woman. And then, she says that nothing civil can be expected from the likes of
me. With a swirling head, I decipher the signs on the walls around me and somehow make my
way to the high school block. I keep my hands in my pocket, pushing them deep within the
pleated cloth. I scrunch up my fingers and dig my nails into my palms ensuring that my hands
stay there. I do not want any other lady to think of me as indecent ever again.
As I find Ms Hall’s classroom, I notice that the door is shut. I stand outside for a while,
examining the color of the door. It is a curious combination of red. I have always stayed away
from the color red because I have learnt the hard way that red is so much more than a color. It is
a being in itself, with thoughts, aspirations, antics and a voice of its very own.
Finally, I muster up every last ounce of courage that dwells within me and push open the door.
The classroom has an assortment of chairs, and before every chair, there is a wide table.
Seated on every chair, there is a student, or to be more specific, a child like me. They have blue
eyes and they look at me with cold emotions rubbed into their gaze. Ms Hall is a tall lady who
walks through the classroom, like a nimble-footed lamb. “May I come in?” I stammer. Ms Hall
looks at me above her spectacles and gives me something which looks like a smile, which is
supposed to be a smile but isn’t quite a smile. “Sit” she commands.
Her slender fingers gesture towards a table that is pushed towards the corner of the class. A
teacher in a school - a real teacher in a real classroom is asking me to sit down. I flash a grateful
smile and take my place. I don’t know why but I feel as though I am being watched. I feel as
though the way I am hanging my bag behind my chair, opening my books, pushing my table in
front of me because I wasn’t sure how to sit on it – every move was not merely being watched. It
was being processed, analyzed, judged, and constantly stared at.
As I put my very real thoughts on the shoulders of over thinking, Ms Hall pauses and asks me to
shift. She instructs me to shift my table towards the left.
Eager to exhibit the discerning obedience that dwells within me, I stand up and do as she says.
“Further . . . further . . . further. . . ” she instructs, till I’m absolutely in the corner, a very near
neighbor to the waste paper basket. “That, my dear” says Ms Hall. “Will be your new position
for this year and beyond”
With these words, she picks up her textbook and begins to read an excerpt or rather a stanza from
a poem entitled ‘No Men Are Foreign’. I can’t quite catch the poet’s name. But, the poem is
As I look around my new position, I realize that I have a full view of the waste paper basket and
the crumpled bits of school days that dwell within. The leg of my table stands so close to the
waste paper basket and it seems as though the leg of my table are comrades, or in fact lovers.
This display of affection by non living things is sufficient to make me smile.
Suddenly, I close my eyes and murmur a prayer of gratitude.
Everything around me – a new classroom, a new teacher, and a waste-paper basket is so much
better than the half-eaten cans of what wasn’t food. It is so much better than cardboard-roofed
houses, bleeding ankles coated with grime and dust.
And, it is definitely much better than patrolling soldiers that had once circled us with steely eyes
and guns in their hands.
Praniti Gulyani is a seventeen year old from India. On The Elysian Muse, she has contributed her works: "My First Day of School", "All the Things I've Learnt From a Shooting Star", and "Ernie Westernwille".