An Elegy to Youth

Before she’d even made it off the front porch, Greta was lost in thought. She didn’t hear the cruel taunting of the crows or smell the impending rain on the horizon, coming to melt the last patches of spring snow from the hillsides. The grass clawed at her boots and blue jeans, leaving imprints like enormous teary eyelashes. She didn’t notice.

The sun was setting later these days, but it would still be dark by seven, and darkness would soon be upon her. She jammed her hands into her jacket pockets and allowed the thumping of her bootheels against the compact earth to lull her into a semi-hypnotic state.

Alone as usual. Wasn’t this what she’d been trying to stop? The story of her fifteen years of life were all one long chapter with no page breaks or punctuation, gray ink on gray paper; a tone poem of solitude. Now, at the long-awaited threshold of human connection, she was walking away. Be it choice or fate, Greta had not found change on her own terms and she was rejecting it.

The wind caught her wispy hair and her ragged scarf and used them alternately to lash her face. Already the old farmhouse was shrinking behind her. She hadn’t expected anyone to come chasing after her, and her expectations had been right, as they usually were. Her classmates had whispered about the abandoned homestead in huddled masses, far from the ears of teachers who were, she knew, too distracted by their own salacious monologues to pry into the small and secret lives of teenagers. But now that she was here, she knew the whispers had been exaggerations, embellished for the benefit of the storyteller more so than the audience.

She only wished she’d paid closer attention on the drive up. She didn’t know how to get home.

When she finally stopped and turned around, the sun had nearly vanished and she could see the windows were alight with the glow of an electric lantern. No, there would be no one coming after her, no one offering a lift, or an ear.

There was something alive inside of her, something wrapped in a blanket of Novocain and the fog that rises from the gutters. Greta stamped her foot against a sapling, crushing its premature buds and snapping its brittle limbs. She smothered it in a hail of kicks and swipes until she was sure it would never grow again.

She began the long walk back to the house.

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page.

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