Mia Arias Tsang | HARDLINE


Mia Arias Tsang is a writer and freelance editor based in New York City. Her work explores themes of queer desire, intimacy, and disconnect. A Tin House SW’23 alum, her work has appeared in Copy, Autostraddle, Half Mystic Press, Fatal Flaw Magazine, and Broad Recognition Magazine, among others. She is a copy editor for the literary magazine Identity Theory and program coordinator at the literary nonprofit House of SpeakEasy, and writes a newsletter called Overripe Peach. She lives in Queens with her cat, Peanut, and is currently working on a novel. 


After Julien Baker

Wednesday morning and I decide to listen to your voicemail again for the first time in several weeks. While drinking coffee at my computer and waiting for a meeting to start, I find myself missing the way you said my name. I gave the pain permission earlier than usual today. Everything is so fragile. If I click the wrong button, I’ll dial your number instead of the preserved starlight of your voice, the words dead and gone by the time they reach me. I’ve learned I need to be more careful. I click the button that lets you tell me again about the moon, huge and bleeding. You tell me again you’re falling asleep on the road, so you pulled over. You tell me again you just wanted to say hi. My mind is a rural parking lot you keep trying to pull out of. Weeds shove their way forcefully through cracks in the asphalt. Teenagers smoke on the hoods of their cars, spin donuts, pop the exhaust like gunfire. An oil spill sunset drenches the sky in utter pinkness over the black flatline of trees on the horizon. I want to keep you here, revving your engine. Today I realized I was forgetting college and cried tears of joy. Does this mean someday the heartbreak of your freckled face on the pillow beside me, sweet and sleeping, will go the way of binge-drinking alone in seminar rooms after dark? It’s hard to believe I was eighteen once. Dancing atop hardwood desks, writing the story of my loneliness on chalkboards beneath faded reading assignments, tilting my head back to pour a Poland Spring bottle filled with rum down my throat. I thought I could never be emptier. I hadn’t met you yet. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew what I needed and didn’t. Every time your eyes meet mine I draw a hard line to save us both. Every time you touch me I cross it over and over. I can’t stomach all this impossible want but I need to hear you say my name again. Rewind. Listen. Rewind. Listen. Hi Mia. Hi Mia. Hi Mia. Hi—


I’ve been writing these short, lyrical nonfiction snippets for years aside from my longer works. They’re not quite poems, but they’re not essays, either. A friend recently suggested “fragments,” so I’ve been going with that. I got really into Julien Baker this past December – her music was the only art able to meet me where I was at mentally in my helplessness / hopelessness, and didn’t ask anything impossible of me. This fragment poured out of me while I was at my desk and her stunning third album opener “Hardline” came on shuffle first thing on a Wednesday morning during a very weak moment. Did I even try to be happy that day? (No.)

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