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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)

TITLE: Teenage Breadcrumbs
By Josiah Kane


Follow the clues, Mum. Follow the clues. Stop fretting about your fragile little Helena under so much pressure, and just follow the clues. Stop worrying about drink and drugs and bullies, and yes, STOP worrying about boys. You trained me better than all that. Just follow the clues.

Come on, Mum, donít you think youíd know if there was some boy out there? Wouldnít you figure it out when my concentration plummeted like a bird that faints on the wing; or when my healthy teenage appetite gnawed itself into oblivion in agitation? Do you think me so perfectly self-controlled that I would never drop the note or whistle the name? Donít fret, and DONíT bring up the question around the dinner table. Donít try to spray-paint my face scarlet by casually mentioning what nice young gentlemen Thomas and Daniel are. Just watch for the clues. Theyíll be there, I promise.

And believe me, if bullies were my issue youíd know it. I havenít enough face powder to mask bulbous blue hand prints around my eyes. Even if I'm only pierced with verbal daggers, that would burst the dam and release those meandering streams to slide down my cheeks. You will know when someoneís attacking me, Mum. So stop asking day by day how school went and whether the kids were nice to me. If you want to catch my problems, follow the clues. Oh, and just forget about drugs. If that were an issue there'd be evidence heralded by a flashing fifteen-foot neon sign and megaphone. It isnít a problem, Mum. But if it makes you feel any better, keep an eye out for elephantine trails of clues.

Follow the clues I leave on purpose too. Yes, your fragile little Helena has her troubles and I do actually try to tell you about them. I canít tell you in plain English though. You see, I know you must have been a teenager too, once upon a time. You must have warred through problems, maybe even some of the issues Iím battling against today. But those old memories of yours are stonewashed, those emotions bleached, and I cannot trust you to relate to my situation. So I drop hints anyone my age would understand. That way when you manage to piece together the puzzle you might have a chance of lending serious aid. But you have to follow the clues.

Iíll give you an example: remember two weeks ago you got so annoyed that I cared only for ďsome craft projectĒ. It was a card game I had designed, and you knew our house wouldnít ever play it. How many times did you nag and nag that Iíd be wiser to revise my algebra? You didnít realize it was a birthday gift for my best friend Sandy, though liberally did I sow hint after tip and tip after hint. I even made a point of handwriting the games instructions though as the game's designer I knew them backwards! But still you didnít think to follow the clues.

So stop bugging me, Mum. And stop flustering yourself. When you see a problem ask me and Iíll talk about it. Indeed Iíll try to think and talk to you as plainly as I'd talk to Sandy. We can sort things out, Mum. But first you have to see and solve the clues.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 07/27/09
Oh, wow. I was right in her head - this felt incredibly honest and true and real-to-life. Great use of repetition too. Really liked this one. Powerful
Clyde Blakely07/30/09
Great job, Josiah, revealing the inter-thoughts of a teenager. It can be difficult trying to write from the opposite sex's perspective (male/female) and I had to chuckle because, in the world we live in today, it could have come across as a male writing about his desire for another male ("follow the clues").
I don't believe it was taken like that in the anonymous pre-ranking version.
It should have placed higher on the Challenge than it did because I believe we "adults" have had very similar feelings growing up.
God bless and keep writing.
Daniel Kane07/30/09
Well Jos, I liked this. Just one question: are you attacking your mum and dad? That's the impression I get. Nice story, though.