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The Precipice

This author is a recipient

of the Sigma Tau Delta Award

Sigma Tau Delta Awarde

Bella Zopf ('23)

is traditionally a graphic designer who enjoys growing plants, reading her favorite novels, and making prints. Both art and writing have had a large impact on her life and serve as unique outlets for her creativity: art in a visual sense, and written work in an emotional sense. Zopf is currently studying at St. Ambrose University and planning to graduate in Spring 2023 with majors in Graphic Design and Book Arts.


“Well, when was it?” I asked as I tucked my hands behind my head, attempting to cushion the firm armrest I was using as a makeshift pillow. You turned your head to look at me from the other end of the small couch. After a beat, you simply shrugged.

“Oh come on, you have to remember! Who forgets their first kiss?”

“I don’t know. Me, I guess. Gimme a second.”

I sighed dramatically, leaning my head back to stare at the rugged landscape of the popcorn ceiling, letting the music I had turned on to prevent awkward silence fill the space between us as you sorted through your memories. When I heard the chords of the next song start, I tried to steal a quick glance at you in thought, only to lock eyes with you instead.

“Do you remember?” I blurted out, praying the dim lighting of my living room hid the blush that was spreading across my cheeks.

“Um, uh-yes,” you stammered, eyes now fixated on the blank screen of the tv. “I think it was in high school, but I don’t remember the year. Freshman year, maybe?”

I pulled my legs off your lap and switched to sitting with them crossed, now sideways on the couch to keep facing you. “I’m sorry, you think?” I teased, a smile tugging at the corners of my lips.

Mimicking my dramatic sigh, you mirrored my position, meeting me in the middle of the couch. “I feel like—and hear me out—" you said as you pressed your hands together at the fingertips, gesturing towards me. “You are looking for a specific answer, for which I do not know.”

My surprised bark of laughter bounced around the room before I slapped my hand over my mouth, remembering too late my roommates were already asleep. Eyes wide, I saw the same amused expression on your face. I pushed my hand playfully into your shoulder, knocking you back a bit.

“We’re supposed to be quiet,” I whispered, laughter waiting at the edge of my voice.

“Oh, so you’re telling me I shouldn’t yell at the top of my lungs right now?” you challenged with a raised eyebrow, lips slowly forming a perfect ‘O’.

I quickly leaned forward to cover your mouth with my hand, but the abruptness of my action took you by surprise—I knocked us both over onto your back, and we found ourselves with faces just inches apart. Our sudden proximity rendered me still as if you were the headlights of a car and I was the deer. Time slowed down and rushed ahead at the same time, thoughts thundering through my head faster than my heartbeat, too fast for me to decipher.

In my frozen state, I was acutely aware of the way my hand still gripped your shirt, the fabric soft under my closed fist. I could see the whites of my eyes reflected in your pupils, framed by swirling shades of amber and green. The whisper of your breath tickled my lips, sending anticipatory shivers down my spine. I swallowed, my sandpaper throat suddenly tight. Your fingers tentatively traced the edge of my shoulder blade up to the nape of my neck, sending a shower of sparks cascading across my skin in their wake. I watched your eyes flit between holding my gaze and glancing at my lips. There was a question there, one I was asking myself as well. Yes, I wanted to say, but words no longer seemed right. Instead, I let the magnetic energy pulsing in the air pull us close until neither of us had any questions left to ask.

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