Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)
TITLE: Imprisoned too soon
By Birdie Courtright
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She’d done everything, seen everything, felt everything she’d fled the safety of home to experience, and now she was only raw and used up. At eighteen, she’d lived all she cared to. Her life had closed in around her. She’d imprisoned herself step by step in the brick and mortar of a life gone wrong too young.
At fifteen, she was angry at the rules and would make her statement against authority. She’d pierce her skin, cut herself, stay away from love and depart to the farthest realms to escape everything her parents stood for.
At sixteen, she was cool. She’d found a way to live beyond their reach. She could use what she had to find a place to stay. The friends that took her in were older and they agreed that parents know nothing. She did what they did, because they were cool in their quest to travel nowhere. Sure, she could come along…for a little price here and there.
She’d been arrested for stealing and been fired from her ‘perfect job’. They’d filmed her loading gift cards, passing them off to friends who exchanged them for merchandise. She’d found a way to live easy at the expense of others. Her friends had devised the scheme. They got away. She had to go to jail. It was all on tape. She fled the state and returned home.
She tried school again for about two weeks. They’d found marijuana on her, during a random search. It was exactly what she hoped for…to snuff out that one last candle for good. She didn’t want to live the way she was expected to. Within a month she was gone.
She’d made new friends, connections with others that understood her. She knew she could make it on her own, so long as she had some friends. She would have to pay her own way. No money, no matter…there were other ways to pay.
At seventeen, she came home from time to time. She missed her friends. It would’ve been her junior year. She took her drill team jacket with her everywhere; trying to fit in or remember who she started out to be before she’d entered this life that was quickly growing empty.
Church made her cry. She missed her place there; people still hugged her but they knew better than to ask many questions. She tried to tell them she was happily living the life she’d created for herself. Something inside told her she wasn’t fooling anyone.
Her eighteenth birthday came and went with out fireworks. She hated coming home. Her friends had cars, she didn’t even have a license. They were seniors; she had dropped out of their world long ago. They were planning for prom. They were off to college after summer. She was a waitress in a diner 300 miles from home. She could barely afford her rent much less the fee for her GED.
She hated coming home. It gnawed away at who she had become. She sat, head buried in her knees; she was empty at a time when her friends had become so full. She’d dared to live beyond her years, make her own way, forcing her entry into a world she thought she was ready for. Her friends had stayed behind, at first with admiration; then with hesitation for her; then with ‘so nice to see you again’ smiles that conveyed they had moved on. They were choosing prom dresses and colleges. She sat with her head buried in her knees.
She raised her head, tears and mascara stains plowing their way over her tired face.
“I should be going to the prom. I should be graduating.” It was the closest thing her mother had had heard her say in three years that remotely resembled regret. Despite the tears of remorse, she would refuse to look fully into the face of what was lost. If she did, then she too, like her child, would have no strength left to swim.
Instead, she sank to the floor next to her, assuming the same fetal position. “Let’s not look back”, her mother whispered, “let’s plan tomorrow, there are no regrets written on that, only promise.”
She entered into her mother’s arm, safe at last.
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