By the funniest chance, on the way down to her seat in the packed movie theater, she ran into two old friends. They were sitting in the corner, drinking secret dark beers and giggling in a language she had trouble understanding. They were nice and polite, but she wasn’t comfortable around them, so she stuttered and simply joined their giggles.

After the movie ended, and the tiny streets around the theater filled with wandering people, she stepped out to the Cinematheque square and sat on one of the thin benches. All around her were flying kids, hovering above the warm, grainy sound of skateboard wheels, gently scraping the rugged ground. The old friends she met by chance complained about the heat and about the movie, and then majestically climbed onto their bikes and rode back into their own lives. She decided to stay. The kids kept flying and crushing, squeaking faintly and seemed very used to the warm pavement. They were all wrapped together under the giant blanket of Tel Aviv’s early summer.

From the restaurant across the street, she could smell a heavy scent of coffee and wine. She lifted her square bag off the ground, wore it on her back, and unbuttoned her black jacket. It was decorated with tiny flowers that reminded her of the time she and another old friend went to the market and bought two meters of light, flowered pink fabric. When they carried it home, along with large bags of fruits and drinks, they couldn’t stop thinking about what they could make from it, but once they got home, they were so tired from their trip that they just passed out together on the bed and watched silly cartoons until they fell asleep. Now, she couldn’t seem to remember what they ended up doing with the fabric.

She strolled towards the restaurant, but then, like a sleepwalker waking up in the middle of a forest, she sobered up and took a sharp left turn towards the next-door small liquor shop. The place was too dim, and most of what she could see was thin lights from outside reflected on the colorful glass bottles. Every time a car passed by, a stroke of light would fill the place, and for a moment she could see herself reflected in the glass too.

She walked out of the store, sniffing the open bottle of heavy purple wine she now had in her hands, and sat across from the restaurant on a wide white brick fence, drinking with strange joy. She looked at the people sitting out on the restaurant porch, on low delicate chairs. They were all vibrant and glowed in the dark with their soft clothes and hair. She imagined herself eating a huge, fat meal next to her drink.

When she turned away to go home, the red pavement felt like thick liquid, and the ancient trees that spread along the streets seemed to her like slightly scarier old friends. She passed by rows of low buildings and gardens with a deep green shade of grass. On the front yard of her building lay street cats, drunk on the still night. She couldn’t find the key to the building door in her bag, and when she checked her pockets, all she found was a stabbed movie ticket and a receipt. She had to wait for someone to walk in or out.

She leaned on the locked door and split the ticket into a hundred small pieces that floated in her hand like pink dust. A few minutes later a downstairs neighbor passed by the building. The neighbor let her in and told her she didn’t even plan on getting in, she just happened to pass by on her way from some friends to the supermarket. The neighbor didn’t leave even after the door to the building was open. They both walked up, and the neighbor told the funniest story about her last trip to the north. By the time they were upstairs, she couldn’t help but invite the neighbor in for tea and apples. Her apartment was filled with plants that spread around like tangled strings and covered up the walls densely. She half-opened the window, and a hint of clean air snuck in.

“Did you ever think of leaving Tel Aviv?” the neighbor asked after finishing a second cup of tea, sitting with her bare feet tucked on the chair endearingly. Her voice resonated through the walls of the room.

“No,” she said, “not really,” and watched the long leaves dance in the dark blend she held in her hands.

When she fell asleep, she dreamed she gave birth to a street cat. It didn’t feel too unusual to her, just not very pleasant. Its fur was such concentrated shade of black and made it seem like a blob with no consistent outlines. When she walked, it followed her. When she rode her bike, it ran behind her like a shapeshifting paint splash, swallowing the world around it like a black hole. She raised it for years.

Meitar Almog’s short story “Ticket” won first prize in the Sixth Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. Originally from Tel Aviv, Meitar is a freshman BFA Design student at SVA. In addition to being an illustrator and animator, she is also currently recording her debut album.

Judges Simon Van-Booy & Merlin Ural Rivera had this to say about Meitar’s prize-winning story: What I liked about “Ticket” was how the writing pulled you along in such an effortless way. It’s as though every word were appearing spontaneously on the page, leaving the reader with a full, emotional sense of the story. In this piece, the sentences were created with unexpected images and carefully crafted syntax, which made them lyrical and just exquisite to read. I felt as though the narrator could write about anything and it would be interesting, such was her ability to meander between the physical and the emotional world.”