When I was learning to read, my mom would curl up with me every night to recite a book. As my tired eyes scanned each line, I attached words on the page to sounds spoken, enraptured with it all. But without fail, every night, she would fold the wrinkled spine between her palms and flip to the end. With a mischievous glance, she turned the book ever so slightly away from me… and always read the last page. After my routine “Moooom” protest, she’d rebut, “I just have to know! Don’t you?” I’d shake my head vigorously in reply. “No peeking!”
I am spoiler-averse to my very core. I will gladly plug my ears, close my eyes, and sound off a loud la-la-la if it means that I spare myself details that could ruin a plot twist or surprise. I prefer to bask in the ups and downs of plot, the trials and triumphs of characters, and the mundane moments in between. Sure, it makes the payoff just that much sweeter. But most of all, it allows me to pretend that amid the bliss of it all, there isn’t an eventual end.
As night falls on this school year, we at Iris curl up together for a final bedtime story (or eight). Our beloved writers offer page-turning fictions and from-the-heart truths that make us relish each line.
Sadie Randall brings us Terminate, the villain origin story of protagonist June and her polar opposite, January. Lexi Toufas then compiles The Best Things for Me This Year (A Playlist), filled to the brim with songs that passed the time. Speaking for many of us, Pasha McGuigan declares, I’m (We’re Tired). As patience grows thin, we turn to her reminder that “These keep us going: ourselves and each other.” In The Act Collection: 23, Chloe Lyda breaks her recent past into distinct moments that defined her year.
Chloe also authors “It’s Very Distant”: Men’s Mental Health at UVA, an interview-based exploration of the intersections of gender identity and mental wellbeing. In addition, she rebukes the “What are you?” question in Not Your Fetish, embracing a powerful truth: “I am a person of color.” With My Maybe-I’m-Not-Heterosexual Awakening, Cathartes Aura breaks down a particular “oh shit moment”. Finally, Lulu Jastaniah strings a line of Silver Beads as a keepsake of spirituality, reckoning, gratitude—and the meditative overlap of all three.
The final pages of a book often feel strange, suddenly flimsy between fingers adjusted to resistant, starchy paper. But as we bid farewell to our graduating Lulu and Kim, we bask in the inimitable art and presences they leave behind. Though we can’t read ahead, these pages feel fresh to the touch and ready to turn. Until next year, Iris. (No peeking!)