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Amidst the Lines, I Hide
Innocence clouds her face, making her almost unrecognizable.
She walks alone, among a world that is her own. She doesn’t understand the concept of pain, of suffering. She is a little girl, lost in a sea of her own imagination. Her innocence is palpable, evident in every move, every thought she has. Her face is untroubled, free from any worries that could harm. She saunters across her land, her kingdom. The world beams radiantly upon her. It waits on her beck and call. She admires her surroundings, gazing at everything with wide eyes. It’s all hers. A chair is manifested out of thin air. She kindly takes a seat and surveys…everything. She marvels at the wondrous possibilities. She isn’t dreaming.
I am seated comfortably in my throne, completely unaware. My parents tell me I’m special and I shamelessly believe them. Mommy, aren’t I special? Yes… my mother would reassure. I stand on a pedestal. No weight encumbers me. My naïveté is pure and supports my unhindered dreams. I am perfectly content in my fairytale, void of reality. No thought of failing has ever occurred to me. A significant pile of books is stacked neatly to my right side where they are at my disposal. I stroke their covers, wondering…Always wondering. Endless possibilities. A faint smile tugs at the corners of my lips. How to begin?
I close my eyes amongst the tranquility. The sun disappears and clouds arrive. I am warmed; it begins to rain, even better. I tilt my head back, exulting in the rain. It soaks my hair, chills my bones. The feeling is liberating, exhilarating. My eyes open through the pouring torrent. I am sitting outside in my backyard. My magical kingdom has evaporated. I am strangely puzzled. Where has it gone? How was I to know that it didn’t and never would exist? I am searching for some way to explain…to ponder…to vent everything that I’m feeling. The world looks upon me now in anticipation. It was not a dream. It was a fleeting glance at my very possible future. Motivation grabs hold of me roughly. Impulsive, childish, foolish.
I begin to write.
Awareness creeps across her wistful expression; she is unveiling.
The Prodigious Chronicles of Witchcraft, Volume 1: A New Fear Ah, quite a title isn’t it? I sign my page with a flourish, breathing a sigh of contentment and self-accomplishment. I am 11. I admire my work with a critical yet biased eye, tilting my head infinitesimally. The pages I skim, grimacing and rejoicing in the parts that I’ve read countless times before. I bound down the stairs, ecstatic, to present my latest inspiration spun out of control to my rather wary mother. She takes it reluctantly, wondering what new ideas have culminated to this ambitious story. I watch her face eagerly as she scans the pages, knowing that she isn’t really digesting the material. My eyes narrow as it sinks in that she’s looking at the pages to placate me, to patronize me with thoughts that I could succeed in my writing escapades. She shakes her head, just enough for me to notice. She does not believe anything will come out of this. She smiles, humoring me. My face falls, ever so slightly, as she sighs. I retain my excitement, however. It hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m not exceedingly special. My mind dances with fantasies and imaginings of my wildest dreams, not yet tainted with reality. I demand attention, expect admiration, without knowing that I have to earn it. Dreams and musings of my undiscovered talent lay, waiting to be rejected once I finally wake up. I am a suburbanite, spoiled and indulgent, expectant and ungrateful, underappreciated and rightly so. I live in Lemont, a cushioned town where my every belonging seems entitled to me. Well? Things have certainly changed. Where to, now?
And so…I begin my journey as the starved, repressed writer. The underestimated and underprivileged ‘artist’. A description I haughtily carried without ever considering that it was an undeserved title. That story, you ask? It, of course, never amounted to anything. I have moved on, I am way more mature now. I am 12. The next story I write? It focuses on a teenage girl named Amy. I’ve cleverly titled it Amy’s World. Less is more, no? I suppose I won’t bore you with mundane details on a failed novel, but it did involve the pressures of high school and how stressful being a privileged teen can be. It really can be! What if you went to school one day and discovered another girl had your exact same Prada bag?! Imagine the humiliation, the horror! Your friends wouldn’t make eye contact with you for a week, let alone accompany you on trips to Starbucks. Can you detect the sarcasm as well as I’d intended, reader? Okay, so fame won’t knock upon my door and greet me. I have to search for it, which won’t be too hard. Have you heard this material? No, being 12 is completely grown-up. Like, right?
Ah, rude awakening. 12? No. I’m much older now, and I can absolutely say that I’ve aged. That story? It’s nothing, if not a laughable reminder at my attempt to create a story. I’ve already a new motivation. I’m sure you’re dying to hear what my latest musings have led to. Well, it is a beautifully crafted novel centered on mythical creatures: elves, fairies, nymphs, and…true love, the love that can only be expressed in novels such as Wuthering Heights and Romeo & Juliet. I am 13. I have given up on witches and warlocks moving on to something that I deem much more established and eloquent. Love. Underestimate me not for I am well-educated when it comes to love, given the fact that I’ve read about it numerous times…and not actually experienced it. My hopes are more tamed, but still overwhelmingly impossible. I no longer believe that renown will drop into my expectant hands, but that with a little perseverance, it will fall where it belongs. Hard work never amounts to nothing, am I correct? Dreams don’t just fall flat on the ground? Hopes aren’t crushed before our very eyes, are they? I think I’ve grown up.
I am wrong. Again. Instead of fame pounding on my much aggrieved door, I receive unwelcome news. I move, during the summer before I am to start high school in a pitifully small town. I leave my comfortable and pampered life in Chicago to face a tourist town. During this introverted summer, I write. It is a story that is by far, the shortest. It consists of nothing. Its characters I never even developed. It’s an adventure story, if you will. A rather tricky transition, I might say. I am still 13. I haven’t grown much, have I? The summer ends too quickly and not fast enough. I prepare myself for the first day of high school in a brand new town. The student population drops from a healthy 1200 to a devastating 400. The amount of fellow classmates in my grade alone almost equals the total number of students in this school. I’m quite sure that you know what town this is. Estes Park, Colorado. Sound familiar? I arrive at high school with low expectations and a frightening knowledge that I won’t have any friends. My freshmen year is interesting. I change, I float, I muddle, I rebel; I pretend to be someone I’m clearly not. Who am I now?
Yes, audience. I’m aware that I’ve digressed; however, I’m 14, now. I’ve started a new stage in my life. I listen to bands that I would have covered my ears and cringed at before. I style my hair in a way that I used to mock. I wear shirts that are brightly colored and not exactly the most becoming for me. I have transformed. I am an individual. I have morphed into this whiny, angst-filled, misunderstood teenager. No one relates to me. I hate my parents. School sucks. I am an individual. And, sarcasm plays quite nicely here as well, yes? Be that as it may, I start writing again. After a tumultuous summer and an unexpected fall, I realize that I haven’t written again in a while. My goodness, pretending to be someone I’m not really intervenes with what I really want to do. Oh yes, 14 is definitely grown-up. This time? I begin writing about a girl who has, you guessed it, intuitive reader, moved to a new town and she hasn’t exactly had the proper start. She’s involved with drugs, guys, running amuck through the night. I explore this story; it’s longer than any I’ve ever written. Am I the only one who senses a coincidence? It plateaus, as they all do. My dreams, they’re dimming. They exist, surely, but they don’t glow. I step back and consider my outrageous fantasies and quietly accept that they no longer exist…but they could, the more reasonable ones at least. I’ll work harder, try harder. Follow your heart and all that childhood nonsense. Anything is possible, no? Being a grown-up is terribly disappointing.
The last and by far the story with most potential, sits on my laptop right now. I am 15. I have, without any doubt, matured. Yes, I’ve made this conclusion several times before; but each time I say I’m all grown up, the feeling of conviction grows stronger. I have settled in with this school, nearing an end to my sophomore year. I revel in the fact that high school is almost halfway completed. I type in odd intervals, only pausing to write when I feel motivated, when desire is kindled. This story? It involves my most intricate and controversial plot yet. I don’t even feel compelled to reveal what it is. I just know that I’ve never written anything before with this kind of depth. I examine my writing, critical as always, to find that it could have a future. I could take this story and run with it. I could accomplish what I’ve been trying to for the last five years. It reassures me and panics me in completely different ways. Is it not exhilarating? Yes, I find it so. These dreams, they come in glimmers, flickers that disappear as soon as I focus on them. They’ve withered, faded, only to revive at certain flashes of faith. Adulthood is strangely depressing, indeed.
I look back and smile fondly on the stories I’ve created so whimsically. They don’t have a real purpose, surely the reader would forget about them once the pages had stopped turning, but they were free, innocent, naïve, oblivious—exactly what I was and…quite possibly still am. Then I warm to the stories I created through my ‘darkest’ times in adolescence. I grin tentatively when I glance at the childish ideas that I expanded upon when I was only 11, 12, and 13. I reread the hidden sorrow within the lines of the stories that I wrote at ages 14 and 15. Realization hits me, fast, leaving me reeling. As I was recollecting these abandoned ideas, I quickly saw that as I grew up, my stories grew more morbid, more serious, more mature, and…more real. I no longer fill the pages with promises of magical lands and unparalleled power. I don’t lose myself in fairy tales of unconditional love and nonexistent beings. Instead, I now pour words that carry the truth, the reality, of what kind of world we live in. A world where tears and death exist and unicorns and nymphs do not. I reflect who I was and who I’m becoming into my writing, the one place I feel comfortable enough to share, subconsciously, my inner thoughts and beliefs. I express myself through writing; it is showing in the slow progression of my rather lame attempts at writing a novel. True to my assumptions, I’m growing up, slowly but surely. I can see the result of my dwindling innocence and fresh knowledge through the development of my stories. I can vividly recall the apparent change that I’m undergoing from ignorant child to awkward teenager. It’s still happening. Yes, I’m growing up.
A story without a name. Perhaps another coincidence? I’ve not named this current work in progress. I suppose you can interpret that because it’s still being improved upon. I sit, puzzled, at what direction I want to take this story. There is a plethora of options. Yes, there always will be, won’t there? I do not inform my mother of this story, not yet. I want to know that this story has an ending in sight before I reveal its existence. I try to disregard the recurring thought of walking away from this story. I can’t. My dreams are somewhat renewed, hesitant though, to make themselves known. I fall into the trap of believing. I am a little kid, again. I tell myself I’m an adult, again. I am stuck, again. A heavy sigh. Things haven’t changed. Where to, now?
Resignation settles within her eyes; she is no longer a stranger.
She is dreaming. Her hair is splayed on her pillow. She lies, supine, captured in the hold of this dream. She has a sense that she is awake, but also that she is unconscious. Visions fill her mind unremarkably. She sits, cross-legged, watching these sites with a curious expression. All goes blank. A frown touches her eyebrows, what happened? Nothingness consumes her in its unbreakable grasp. She stands up shakily. Her head whips back and forth, trying to discern some kind of motion. There is nothing. Blackness envelops her. She walks around in endless circles. She is empty. Before she is about to scream, a quick image flashes across her eyes. She is titling her first story: The Prodigious Chronicles of Witchcraft. A land of enchantment awaits her. It beckons to her with a crooked smile. A young child stares at her with unfathomable eyes. Where have you been? The vision crumples as fast as it comes. She continues walking, confused, what is she looking for? She is trapped in a world of black. The delayed scream finally fills her ears. She is dreaming, only dreaming.
I bolt upright, my breath coming in frantic, shallow intakes. It was only a dream… I lie back down and sternly glare at the ceiling. My teeth cut into my lip. Was it all a waste? My hopes and ambitions, are they just cruel imaginings that haunt me now that I know they’re unattainable? No, unattainable is too strong of a word. Shall I say instead ‘unreasonable’? I’ve woken up. Truly matured? Ah, that is an excellent question.
My head hits the pillow, all too willing. I close my eyes, gingerly awaiting the nightmare. I reopen them to find myself sitting in the middle of nothing. This time it isn’t blackness that greets me, but light, blinding whiteness. I blink rapidly. There are no words. I stand cautiously yet I’m not afraid. I roam the blankness, finding solace rather than panic. My eye finally catches a hint of grey among the dazzling light. Burnt papers litter the ground. I stoop to pick them up; the tattered page reads, The Prodigious Chronicles of Witchcraft. I avert my eyes from sight of it to exclaim at my surroundings. It’s a land of myth, utterly destroyed. It’s in ruins. Everything is burnt, broken, devastated. A little girl runs up to me. Her face is prematurely aged, seeming out of place in comparison to the rest of her body. Her eyes are accusing. Look what you’ve done. I am staring in the face of my reflection. The long anticipated scream escapes again. I am not dreaming; I am awake.
Ignorance. Is. Bliss. Has it permanently disappeared? Am I never to sigh in longing, yearning for something, anything to relieve me of this imagined oblivion? Perhaps I’m being overdramatic. Yet, is it so crazy to wonder if dreams still exist? Am I the only one who looks forlornly at my past works and grudgingly concedes that they have no future? This quarter-life crisis, in a sense, is quite disturbing. No, I’m young…right? I’m alive, I still breathe, I still believe. Don’t I? I am not dead. I’m aging…I’m adapting…I’m readjusting…I am dreaming. I continue to write. Word by boring word.