Work in Progress


Marlow grumbled under his breath, internally cursing the history project and his biology notes falling everywhere stupid stupid–  

A pair of feet in front of his pencil case made him pause. He froze: he recognised those shoes, splashed with multicoloured paint. He didn’t think he could move.


Beaming down at him. 

Like she had never died.  

Her hair in a crazy twist, hazel eyes shining, grin almost feral. She looked exactly as he remembered, stray strands of hair and the rays of light shining through them, forming a sort of halo.

His world seemed to come to a standstill. He could vaguely make out his arm moving forward, as if to touch her, this thing, this apparition before him, and– 

She threw her head back, clear laughter ringing. 

“You never used to do this, Marlow,” she said, eyes shining with laughter. 

And he came undone, laughing hysterically, tears filling his eyes- this is some sick sick joke- memories of the bus, that day, coming at him at full force, screaming, and-

Daniela smiled softly. 

“It’s me, Marlow. It’s really me.” 


Tapping his foot impatiently, Marlow repeatedly checked his watch.

“Did you finish the essay?” a voice rang out from beside him. Marlow startled: he had forgotten Griff was waiting for his parents. He has said that he was unable to come with them this time, saying that his parents want to bring him to see the new theatre exhibit again

Clearing his throat, he replied.


“Macbeth is tragic. And a pain to analyse.”

Marlow made a noise of vague agreement.

“When d’you think she’ll come?” Griff asked. Marlow shrugged, looking at the floor, knowing he was referring to Daniela. 

“You know she’s never on time.”

“I do,” Griff replied, laughing: she was always late.  

“And she claims she’s the responsible one,” Marlow huffed. 

Griff rolled his eyes, and Marlow stuck his tongue out in response, their conversation ceasing. A comfortable silence enveloped them. This is nice.

“So the lit thing-”

“What’s on your mi-”

They both stopped. Marlow looked away, a grin formed for a reason he couldn’t fathom. He could sense Griff’s breaking out into a smile.  

A shrill shriek caused Griff to jolt and clutch at his chest. Marlow snorted. Daniela came to a halt in front of them, breathless. 

“Sorry I’m late Marlow I just needed to take a trip to the-”

“It’s fine,” Griff interrupted, grinning. He made brief eye contact with Daniela before looking at Marlow, who was grinning right back. 

“Also!” he snapped his fingers. “Sorry guys, I don’t think I’ll be able to join you guys today. Have fun though!” He waved and took off.

Daniela stuck her tongue out at him, before laughing and then screaming that Marlow would be last to the museum again, ignoring his indignant yells. 


Sound finally escaped his lips, eyes fixed on Daniela.


She didn’t answer Marlow, instead, crooking her fingers in an indication for Marlow to follow.  Shocked and numb, he followed. 

“What are you?” Marlow blurted out, his eyes fixed on the neon-yellow soles of Daniela’s shoes.

Daniela stopped walking abruptly and turned back, blinking once, twice. 

“I honestly thought you’d know who I was, Marlow. What happened to those years of friendship?”

Any speech that Marlow had left died on his lips. What did happen?  

“Am I not your best friend?”

Marlow paused, and sighed. 

Daniela made a sound of irritation. 

“What d’you want me to say? You’re quite literally dead.” Because of me, all because of-  

Daniela gave a small shrug. “What do you normally say around me?”, ignoring the comment on her dead-ness. 

Marlow’s lips pursed. 

“It’s still me, y’know.”

Marlow pinched the bridge of his nose.

“But how can I know that? You’re- you’re dead, Daniela. It doesn’t make sense and– and I honestly don’t know what to think, I don’t know what’s real anymore and–” 


He took a deep breath and looked up at Daniela. 

“I know you love coffee-flavoured ice cream but hate coffee. I know about your skinny jeans phase and that it’s still probably ongoing. Even if I’m not real, isn’t this moment between us real?” Daniela whispered, her eyebrows drawn together, head cocked to the side.

Marlow’s stomach churned and he didn’t know what to do and- 

“C’mon.” Daniela said, already trailing away.  

When he caught up, Daniela was on the floor, patting an empty spot next to her. Marlow sat down.
“How’s Griff?” she asked in what she probably intended to be a casual tone, but instead seemed strained.  

Marlow immediately dimmed. “He’s fine. I hope.”


“Yeah. He… we deal in different ways, I guess.”

He hadn’t talked to him in a while, not since Daniela died. It wasn’t Griff’s fault, of course. He supposed that Griff was bound to give up trying to talk to him at some point, with Marlow only responding in a variety of grunts and nods.

Daniela changed the topic. 

“How is school?” A tiny smirk played on her lips. Marlow snorted.

“You wish you still could copy off my homework.” 

Marlow gasped indignantly. “Do not!”

Soon enough, it was like she had never left, never died. It’s just like before.   


Daniela sighed and looked to the window above Marlow, comfortable in the silence. The sky looked a little dimmer, and she knew that soon, she’d have to leave. Maybe not then, but… soon. She’d have to leave him again at some point. She looked at Marlow, and immediately dropped her eyes to her fingers. A small, nagging part of her wondered how she would bring it up, if she would at all, but she shoved that thought to the back of her brain. She hadn’t planned to stay for this long, wasn’t supposed to. 

She looked back up at Marlow. She couldn’t read him, not like before. 

Maybe it was foolish to come back.



Marlow paused, his worksheets still a mess on his table. Surprised was amongst the many emotions clouding his brain; the surprise was pleasant. 

“Yes, Griff?” he asked, still not turning around, grabbing the loose sheafs off his desk and shoving them into his bag, too lazy to take out his file again. He heard a sigh from behind him, followed by Griff plopping down on his desk (thankfully absent from worksheets). “Hi. How’re you doing?” Griff asked, looking inside the mess of what was Marlow’s bag. Which, okay, fair

Marlow frowned. Griff hadn’t really gone beyond the casual hello in class and giving him things like his notes, and sometimes even food (which Marlow consistently declined, always trying to ignore the look of disappointment and hurt on his face). What made today so special? Not that Marlow didn’t, well, find it nice, but–

“I’m alright, actually,” Marlow said. “You?”

Griff seemed to shine ten times more brightly when Marlow answered. Marlow couldn’t believe he forgot how bright Griff burned. 

“As well as I can, I guess. What’s with the change in tone?” he asked, now leaning closer to Marlow, for reasons Marlow could not even begin to decipher. 


Griff shrugged. “I don’t know. You’d always brush me off, is all. I’d, y’know, sit with you, and try to talk to you, and the most you’d do is grunt or nod.”

Marlow’s chest tightened. “Griff, about that, I–”
“No no, it’s alright. Not mad, or blaming you or anything. I don’t know. You just didn’t seem… Well, in any case, I didn’t want to… make you feel worse. I guess.”

Griff had put his phone away, now staring blankly at the overhead clock. “But! Anyway, yeah, you’re good, right?”

Marlow didn’t really know what to say. Didn’t know what the strange feeling was, the one settling at the bottom of his stomach. Remorse… but something else.

“I’m okay, yeah.”

“You sure?”

Marlow sat on the thought for a moment. He thought of Daniela, hanging out with her again (trying to ignore the way his stomach twisted at the thought, how he didn’t deserve it, how it was–) and–

It’s like things are normal again.

“Yeah. I’m… great.” Marlow didn’t exactly know why it sounded heavier than it should’ve been. Griff caught on it. 

“Mar… I know Dan–” He was about to say more, the words forming on his lips, only to be interrupted by his phone. His parents, calling him, probably to pick him up. Griff looked at his phone in very poignant distaste, and Marlow almost smiled despite himself.

Griff made eye contact with him and rolled his eyes, gesturing at the phone, before saying goodbye to him. Marlow packed up his untouched lunch and swung it over his shoulder. To see Daniela. His smile widened, an additional bounce in his step. Talking to her had quickly become the highlight of his week. The only thing he looked forward to, really. Everything else was dull, dull and numbing, but talking to Dan? Marlow felt… well, he felt something as opposed to harrowing emptiness, and Marlow figured that that was better than nothing. 


“Don’t anyhow say like that!” 

Daniela collapsed in laughter, Marlow shaking his head, trying to suppress his laughter. 

“You’re so stupid! He clearly–”

“Shut UP!” Marlow motioned to swat her arm, only to have his hand swipe clean through her. Marlow’s eyes fixed on his hand: the mood was ruined. It was mirrored in Daniela, who started to fidget with her hands. She opened her mouth, as if to say something. Her frown got deeper, and she hesitated, closing her mouth. She sighed. Marlow frowned.


Daniela blinked once, twice. “What.”

“Something’s clearly on your mind. Spit it out.” Wrong approach, Marlow realised.

“No??” Daniela replied, with an incredulous look on her face. “If I want to tell you, I would’ve done it already.”

“But something’s clearly bothering you and–”

“And I’ll tell you if I want to! You know what?” Daniela threw her hands in the air, her eyes bordering on furious, and Marlow was taken aback. “You know what? I didn’t come back for this! I really didn’t!”

Marlow’s initial shock somewhat wore off, and instead was replaced by annoyance and what the hell are you talking about–

“Then what the hell did you come back for, Dan?”

“I just wanted to say goodbye properly, goddammit!”

Marlow froze.


Daniela seemed just as jarred as Marlow, as if she didn’t think it would actually come out of her mouth. She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. 

“I just wanted to say goodbye… properly.”

She was met with silence.

“And I didn’t expect for,” she motioned between them vaguely, looking resigned, and so tired, “this, or to even stay this long.”

Marlow’s mind went blank. All the spiralling thoughts, flooding lungs, halted for a moment, and everything was dark, and empty. Again. It wasn’t supposed to be like this with Daniela. 

He let out a dry laugh. 

“So you’re just here to what? Leave again?”

Daniela looks at him with more despair than Marlow had ever seen from her before, more than when she failed her maths exam and knowing that she’d have to go back home and face her mother, and Marlow regrets. 

“I just wanted to say goodbye, Mar. Properly. You’re my best friend, and I think… we both need it.”

Marlow sighed, mirroring Daniela’s posture, his head hitting the cold marble wall. “Need what, exactly?”


The brief silence was interrupted by Daniela. 

“I’m gonna miss you, Marlow,” she whispered.

Marlow let out a wet laugh, tears coming back. “Then stay, Dan.”

“I can’t. I know that you know that, Mar.”


“Mar,” Daniela interjected; she seemed exhausted. Mar ran his hand across his face, similarly tired. “We have to… let go, sometimes. We need to let go.”


“You know you’ll always be my best friend, right?” Daniela’s voice resounded through the empty hallway. 

Marlow stared straight ahead, picking at the fraying laces of his shoes. 

“I know.”

“I’ll have to leave soon.” 

Marlow pursed his lips. 

“Will you be okay?” Daniela asked.

Maybe he needed to let go. 

“No,” he said, “but I will be. Eventually.” Daniela’s face cracked into a soft smile, and Marlow knew: things would be alright. 

The silence enveloped them, and Marlow, for the first time in a while, probably since Daniela’s death, felt… at peace. They sat in silence together for one hour, two hours, what did it matter? Marlow felt his eyes droop, and the next time he opened his eyes and looked to his right, Daniela was gone.

Gone. Forever, this time.

When the thought passed through his mind, Marlow was surprised to find that he could deal with it, despite the heavy weight settling in his chest. 

He made to leave, slinging his back over his shoulder, before stopping at the sound of soft footsteps. A mess of curly brown hair, and–

He must’ve made a noise of vague confusion, because Griff made direct eye contact with him, his face a mask of confusion, before settling into one of curiosity, giving Marlow a smile. He set his bag on the floor, sitting just further off where Daniela was. Marlow’s confusion was obvious. Griff noticed, and shrugged. “I come here sometimes. We made good memories here, didn’t we? Us and Daniela?”

Initially taken aback, Marlow replied hesitantly. “Yeah. We did.” And he realised, actually saw Griff, and that he was grieving her too. 

Griff let out a tired sigh, and Marlow understood. It was an I miss her. It was an I wish she were here. In the spur of the moment, Marlow grasped Griff’s knee and squeezed. Hard. Griff looked over and smiled, and they let the silence blanket them both. Things will be alright.

Radha Master, Class of 2026, is inherently drawn to the poetic form but enjoys testing the limits, albeit hesitantly. Radha enjoys exploring different concepts through writing and spend most of the time staring at blank documents.