Cynthia Schmidt, Writer
"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius
Cynthia Schmidt is a passionate believer in the power of words. She recognizes the profound importance of both human connections and the stories of our world, and therefore received her Bachelor's degree from High Point University in both Human Relations and English Writing. She has decided to further her mission of pursuing academic and creative excellence with her MFA in Writing, Speculative Fiction track, at Sarah Lawrence College. Cynthia has had poetry published in both Apogee Literary Magazine and ThoughtCatalog online, and she is presently working on her debut novel.
"In TAP I've learned so much: I've gotten some really helpful feedback on my lesson planning strategies, I've connected with such incredibly talented, passionate, and hardworking people in so many artistic fields, and I've learned so much about what it really means to live and work as a teaching artist today."
Most Memorable TAP Moment:
"My most memorable TAP moment is almost every interaction I've had with my Care Team. It is just such an incredibly loving and supportive group of women who are all so extremely talented and raw and amazing. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know them over the course of the program."
Find out more about Cynthia here:
"The Ethics of Owning a Genie"
By: Cynthia Schmidt
Raaza is as much a cynic as cynic gets. How could he not be, shackled onto a cosmic goddamn hamster wheel for eternity? He’s seen it all, been it all, done it all, vicariously if not physically. He is quite certain he knew everything there is to know about people, human nature at large. Humans are sticky, he thinks to himself. They mull around and fuck and fight and eat and shit and dream and disappoint and die. There’s not a one who would be altruistic for altruism’s sake, not a one who would make a wish without something for them to gain. Raaza looks into his water table, the defining feature of his living space. It is a gorgeous table, sleek black with smooth edges and still water settled into the shallow basin. The table is raised high so you can only see the top while standing up, and it has shaded glass panes running down the sides to view the tinted smoke swirling underneath, pressing contentedly against its own prison.
The water table sometimes has a bit of prophecy to show; other times it’s a pretty fixture, and other times still it serves as an unpleasant reminder. Raaza hates and loves this table very much, and no matter his feelings, he always looks into it at least three times a day without fail. The smoke under the table begins to swirl faster, and ripples appear at the top of the water. Raaza scrambles to his feet from the soft chair by the lamp and peers into the inky waters to glimpse what the table has to say.
In the water an image focuses, blurred slightly at the edges where the water laps it, waiting to swallow it back again. The scene shows an apple tree with a boy sitting under it. He is at the age where he is not yet a man but no longer a child, squarely in between the two. The boy looks up at the leaves of the tree and closes his eyes. Suddenly Raaza’s home shudders and lurches, and as if in response, the image dives back under the now choppy miniature maelstrom on the table’s surface. Raaza himself feels something akin to seasickness, a sensation that will never subside so long as he is at his current status, a tribute to the nature of his true powerlessness.
Abruptly, his surroundings cease their quivering and the overpowering smell of tart sweetness and earth permeates the air. Rolling his eyes, Raaza steadies himself, waiting for the inevitable. He settles himself into a comfortable position but remains ready to spring into action at the same time. There’s no way of knowing how long it will take for him to be summoned, so he is always unsure of what to expect. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long this time, as the feeling of being lifted stirs his insides once more. This time though, none of his fixtures shake; it is as if he is riding an elevator, merely waiting to reach the proper floor.
The reveal is Raaza’s favorite part. There is something quite funny to him as the self-appointed Supreme Cynic about puncturing other people’s cynicism. He loves watching the shock and wonder in their faces and thinks to himself if only they knew how grand a scale they exist on, and what a miniscule pinprick they will ever know, even after encountering him. One time, an arrogant boy some hundred years ago wished for the knowledge that Raaza himself possessed. Raaza was so offended that the whelp did not have the sense to ask for the strength or merit to acquire such knowledge in addition to the knowledge itself that he granted the boy’s wish just as he asked it. Of course, he paid the price for his game, as the boy naturally went insane and died before completing his other wishes. It was a long time before he was summoned again after that incident. Perhaps it was a punishment for him, or perhaps he brought it on himself. It didn’t particularly matter because that’s what happened and he couldn’t do anything else to change it.
Unable to resist some measure of theatricality, Raaza decides that he will at least set this initial encounter in a more unusual environment. A creative, he has prided himself all these years on manifesting an entirely unique setting for every new master’s introduction. Buzzing with the effort, he removes himself from his dwelling and begins to pull himself and his unsuspecting master into his creation.
The boy holding the most indescribably alluring apple he’s ever seen drops to his knees without even realizing it as his world shifts around him. Suddenly he is somewhere entirely different than the orchard he had been standing in not a moment before. Struggling to regain his footing, he marvels at his surroundings. He passes his hand through the multicolored mist around him, his mind unable to comprehend the sensation. He looks up and sees a figure walking towards him, and doesn’t even have the good sense to be frightened.
Raaza stands before his new master, analyzing him. Sometimes he plays this game, depending on the level of his boredom. He stands and waits to see how the human will react, not saying a word to see how they will approach him. He likes to see how their wonder turns to anger, entitlement, desperation, to get a measure of their mettle before he erases the experience from their minds. Raaza looks at the boy to decide if he is a wicked enough sort to deserve that unwitting insanity. The boy stares unabashedly back at him, mouth agape, his face holding an expression like witnessing a thousand supernovas. Raaza decides to be merciful and direct, determining that if he were to toy around with the boy, he would make a rather depressing stress ball for Raaza’s own pent up emotion. That would not be very productive for sport, but he does not want the boy to acquire an inflated sense of importance now that he has been spared initial torment whether he knows it or not. Raaza begins speaking in the thundering timbre that he knows rattles the boy’s bones. “Human,” he booms as the boy shakes, yet does not cower. “Your wish has been deemed sufficient and has summoned me here to you. Three wishes you will receive from me, but be warned of the duality of desire.” Raaza speaks the words he has spoken a thousand’s thousand times and cannot help but notice how well he hides his boredom from his tone.
The boy wears his bewildered awe plain on his face, and it is several moments before he can gather his ungatherable thoughts enough to attempt speech. With a voice surprisingly free of tremors, he first merely says, “Thank you, sir.” Raaza inclines his head, pleased by the boy’s initial respect and attempt at reverence. “Are there – are there any rules to my wishes?” he says hesitantly. The boy has not met his eyes, and Raaza wonders if this boy actually knows the truth of what he is.