The Things April Gave Me.

6 min readJan 7, 2024

April walked into my life one January morning and dropped a box in the crook of my arms. She wore flowers in her hair and smelled like cherry cigarettes, and her eyes were the kind authors described as “knowing” in fantasy novels. I could read the trajectory of my life in them. Stunned, it took me a moment to gather my thoughts right as the weight of the box hit me. It was heavy, heavier than the type of things I was used to carrying. I staggered as my knees bit into the floor, and the contents of the box spilled open.

It bore a lot of things. On one side, I saw a jar full of attempts, and man, there were a lot of them. What had I not tried? I had tried fashion design, oil painting, and skateboarding in high school, and pretending like things didn’t hurt when they did. I had tried not to think about my worries concerning the future, my regrets over the past, and the shy reluctance with which I faced my present life. The attempts were many and the results few, but I felt a little proud as I set them aside. At least, I had tried.

Next to it was my shawl of memories. Promptly, I picked it up and wrapped myself in it. Old things always had a way of proffering comfort, even when they were better left alone. It was simply a question of spotting a once familiar jacket amongst your clothes, and suddenly you forgot how much you hated it when you were younger, and how uncomfortable the fabric made you feel and all that came to your mind was: “I used to wear this.”

Nostalgia was a reliable fabric softener.

Wrapped in the shawl, I could smell the things I grew up with. Tangerines, and chocolate chip cookies, and the anxiety of walking to school on Monday mornings. The cinematic quality of putting off the remote as soon as my dad came back from work and running into my room to pick up a book to avoid a lecture. I remembered spending hours online talking literature with friends across the world in a bid to create stories that made sense — a life that made sense. Leaving the cinema after the second Hunger Games movie, and feeling a dull ache in my chest, frozen yoghurt, and a sense of disconnect, even when surrounded by my dearest friends.

My hands skidded past the balloon of expectations because lingering on it induced feelings of shame. Because I had known better. I had known not to simply believe people when they said things. Saying things was easy when your mouth was full of teeth and tongue. Anything extra could spill out, easily. And yet I had expected things that never came, countless times. From people, from places, from entire countries, and from myself.

My knees felt wetness and I saw a trail of liquid from the bottle of fears. I could tell it hadn’t been capped tightly. Not like I could fault April for not being careful, these were my things after all, and she was simply doing me a favour by returning them. As I held the bottle, I tried not to think about the things I had run away from because they felt bigger than I could handle; and how they had metamorphosed through the years. From running across dark corridors with the speed of light as a child, to snakes, to all the daunting tasks I had to face daily, and willing myself not to fall in love again. I wondered how they could all fit in the bottle, there were so many of them. Then again, fears were interesting creatures; not very different from the Boggarts in the Harry Potter books I loved as a child. They assumed whatever shape and form you gave them, as imaginary things tend to do.

In that box, there were other things. Ideas that had gone unused were littered like confetti. Achievements I couldn’t speak about because they didn’t smell potent and real; like the type of things that made your uncles say “wow!” in family gatherings, their cheeks beaming with pride. I saw a plethora of soft things I once held onto: morning light pouring on my face, pop music from 2012, hearing laughter bounce off the walls of my 11th-grade science classroom, and waking up to good morning messages from a man I once loved. Sometimes you stuffed things in the box of your brain in a bid to forget them, and other times they simply withdrew, on their own accord, because the brain has to maximize efficiency to function optimally and holding onto every meal eaten, and every conversation had is not a very economical choice.

I don’t remember what I was doing when the tears came, I was too distracted to ward them off, but they did and I let them. I cried because acceptance was something that had taken me a very long time to embrace. Like a teddy bear found after decades of wearing ties and muting mics on Zoom calls. I cried because I was constantly running away from things I couldn’t understand, and sometimes I wore bravery like a lipliner because it was the only way I could have it close, too toxic to be swallowed whole. I cried because I felt immense relief once I realized that life wasn’t meant to make sense. It didn’t come with an instruction manual. You were given a thousand and one pieces of a jigsaw puzzle without any picture of what you were meant to create. But you had to make something out of it.

From my peripheral, a hand stretched out to me, offering a pen. I looked up to see April. I had forgotten she was there all along.


“What?”I sniffed.

“It is for you,” she said, edging it closer. “Use it.”

I accepted the pen, feeling the smooth texture of its body. There was nothing spectacular about it, but it felt comforting to hold. “Thank you.”

April shrugged, a perfect picture of nonchalance. But I knew better; her words were instructions, and giving that pen to me was an act of love. She lifted herself from the countertop and made for the door. And then, as if forgetting something, she turned back to look at me. I saw her eyes soften, conflicted or not on whether it was safe to be more than a messenger — to breach the gap between steward and friend. I sniffed again, wiping my face with the sleeve of my shirt.

“Remember to relax, and take things easy.” She sighed, “This is nobody’s race but yours.”

“I will.”

“Great. Remember also that Life isn’t something that happens to you, it is something you create. No one is coming to save you, so you might as well just save yourself.”


“Be more present, Child. And savor the moments.”


“Also, you are not meant to be happy all the time, you know? Sadness, anger, and fear — all these emotions are meant to be felt.”

“Even when they hurt?”

“Yes, they are pointers.”

“To what?”

“To the things happening inside of you that you haven’t acknowledged yet.”

I shook my head. “I don’t completely agree.”

“You don’t have to.” She smiled, “It’s simply what it is.”


“And please sleep more, your eyes are red.”

“I was crying.”

“Nope, you’re tired.”

“Well, fair.”

“Check on your people more often, too.”

“Alright.” I nodded, “anything else?”

“Yes. You might want to learn how to wear eyeliner properly, and dance legwork. Just saying.”

I laughed, causing her to chuckle.

“I’m just joking. But really — do what you really want to, Child, and ignore all the noise. Don’t forget to buy your skincare products when you get paid, and for the love of all things you consider holy, stop skipping your meals.”

I rolled my eyes. “I have heard.”

“Great. Well, see you next year.”

“Same time and place?”


I mouthed thank you, and smiled. Then she waved a hand as she walked out the door, the smell of cigarette smoke and flowers trailing behind her.