Some parts of the write-up below are fiction, and others are not. You can decide.

Tuesday, 9:05 a.m.

It had been a weird few weeks, to say the least. The transition from school to college, from being a teen to an adult, from having to do nothing but study all day and give exams to filling college applications and trying to sleep like a normal person again is difficult, and definitely quite the experience.

That still did not explain why I am seated next to him again. Or, well, maybe the lack of sleep did mess up my brain for good.

“Yes, yes it did.” The man in the black suit pipes up.

“Oh, so now you can hear my thoughts too?” I accused my sleep paralysis demon.

“I am… literally in your brain. A composition of your thoughts, even. Why in the world would you think I can’t hear your thoughts?” He questioned.

“Okay, fine, what am I thinking about right… now?”

“Life. That’s permanent though. Lunch, that’s also pretty routine. Oh, and rollercoasters for some reason, because why exactly are we hurtling across Noida in a tiny rollercoaster car all buckled up? Also, why do those houses to our right look suspiciously like they were built in Stuttgart?”

I thought about it for a moment. I was as unsure as he was. “Look man, it’s nine in the morning so I don’t know what the architecture is about, and I’m still trying to finish packing, so can I go?”

“You can try,” he said as he raised an eyebrow, “although I’m not sure you’ll get very far, considering you made the terrible decision of not setting an alarm and taking a day nap… the most obvious recipe for sleep paralysis.”

I facepalmed with both hands.

Tuesday, 9:32 a.m.

“I expected it to be easier, you know? This decision, I mean, it’s exactly what I wanted to do when I was younger.” I told him.

“You mean, pre-pandemic you? Who was barely fourteen, didn’t really know how the world worked, and didn’t double check information from the internet?” He questioned.

“You do make a point,” I agreed, “but I still don’t get why I feel so unsure about everything.”

“It’s because you know more. And you know better. And you know exactly why you’re taking the course and college you are, because you’ve reasoned through the decision. But you still can’t help but feel it’s wrong because any path you take has its problems, its difficulties, taboos, stigmas, and more. You want to change the world but it’s seeming more of an impossibility than ever, even in the field you’re taking. And that is scary. It’s scary for everyone. Which is fine.” He said.

“For being a strange man who wears all black you talk a lot of sense,” I said as I mulled over his words. “It really does seem all out of control, doesn’t it? Everything going on, and everything which has happened… technology is moving faster than ever and there’s AI and space exploration and whatnot, but we still seem to be moving backwards in terms of peace and social welfare. And the worst part is, you feel like you can’t talk about it! As if you say one uncertain word, or even think a relatively revolutionary thought, someone or the other will try to punish you for it.”

Tuesday, 10:46 a.m.

“Will they, though? A lot of people say and think a lot of things they shouldn’t all the time. And yes, not all of us have the privileges to do that all the time. But there’s always going to be people on this planet who think a myriad of thoughts. Who have a plethora of, ah, well, reflections on society and the Earth and beyond. They’re going to keep thinking. And keep talking. And keep doing. In fact, what might be even more impactful are the things they don’t— in politics and the environment and policy and more. Choosing silence can prove to be the right thing to do sometimes. Sometimes it’ll be something you’ll regret.” He pointed out.

“It’s difficult to find a balance, isn’t it? But I think I’ve narrowed it down a lot since, well, pre-pandemic me was still in charge up here. You pick your battles. You talk about and fight for the things you need to. The rest, well, either someone else is, or it’s not so high up in importance, or it’s just something you can’t control. And that’s okay.”

“It is. Your brain is not big enough for everything. But it’s big enough for a lot. If you can work with that and through that, you’re all set for the things life has to throw at you.”

“Now that’s being a bit too optimistic, big guy, literally anything can happen at this point in time— if the whales start attacking to punish us for what we’ve done, for examp—dang it that’s already happened.” I gave up my line of thought before I predicted something worse.

Tuesday, 11:18 a.m.

“Can we get off the rollercoaster now?” He asked, clutching the bar as it went faster and faster as I tried to control my thinking.

“Uh, sure, let me jus—WOAH!” I accidentally ejected the two of us upside-down into my couch as the ride disappeared in a puff above the Noida Stadium.

“You know what, at least it’s a soft landing.” He muffled from somewhere next to me as we sorted ourselves out. “Care for a coffee?”

“No, you make bad coffee.”

You make bad coffee in your brain, dear, don’t pin that on me!” He exclaimed.

“So this is it, huh? This is what the world is and what we have to make of it.” I patted down my hair.

“Pretty much,” He said as he picked a speckle of dust off of his well-polished shoes. “It’s not all bad, silence. There’s a lot of serenity in it. Try it sometimes.”

“Meditation hasn’t helped me get rid of you, but I’ll give it a shot, I suppose.” I sighed. “I should really get going. Have a magazine to bid farewell to.”

“So you do indeed.”

Tuesday, 12:00 p.m.

I woke up abruptly after trying to pull myself out of sleep and causing an earthquake in my dreams. Not a very pleasant experience, if you can’t move, and you’re panicking, but it worked, nonetheless. I looked at the stuff piled up around my room, waiting to be packaged and shipped off with me. It was quiet in the house as everyone had left for work. But it was a tranquil kind of quiet. One that I could work with.

Thank you so much for getting through another edition of the story-editorial series. A lot lies beyond this article, in art, writing, photography and more—and I urge you to find a quiet corner of your own to enjoy each piece put together carefully by the students for you. Like, comment and share, be loud with your affection for their work.

After over three years of writing, editing, and putting together these issues for you, it’s time for me to move on too. I’ve had the support of some extremely skilled and gifted people through these years, and I am incredibly grateful to have been at the helm for so long. I have learnt so much from each and every single person I’ve come across in this journey, and I know I’m leaving the magazine in very, very capable hands and minds with ambitions even greater than mine were when we started. Reflections continues to be a place of expression for high schoolers across the globe. I am excited for what’s to come because the only way we’re going is up.

Signing off with love,


Also part of the story-editorial series:

Editorial – Into the Unknown (2020)
Editorial – Melange 2.0 (2022)


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