Maislie and Japlicorn

by Avania Costello | April 5, 2024

You wake to my eyes staring at you 

in the room where you loved me. 


Something rolls up from the depths of my stomach and 

rams against my lips. I’m sick.

I can only spit bile,

hold you where it hurts as you pull: drag me back

to June, when your kisses were sweet,

when I would let you, shower-wet, 

leave a watery trail on my floor. 

Because it was you, and because

every step you took was another towards me.


Your hair in my hands smells like my childhood shampoo;

your lips, like mine. And your eyes,

placid as a doll’s, as you ask me

to stay—in the room where you loved me, 

my bandages always white; we’d lie in stillness, steeping 

the air, tracing familiar runes on each other’s backs. 

Our tears and footprints would dry into the carpet

and I’d always be with you. 


It’s hard to breathe in the room where you loved me.

Your arms coil round me, tight and unyielding—

no room even to bleed. 

I used to hate band-aids; I’d skin my knee and 

watch. watch it run red and scab, bruise purple

seep yellow. Fade.

Now it’s your face pressed in my neck, 

your breath in my ear, your name on my lips,


who I’ll leave, 

because I like my bandages

loose and bloody 

and I like my own room. 

Words by Avania Costello. Art by Isobel Powner.