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Horror Coming of Age Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

To sow the seeds of the future, it is required to destroy the weeds of the past.

That is all one’s past is, isn’t it? A weed. It was a distraction. Hanging onto the past prevented a productive future. Everyone agreed on that and everyone lived by those words.

The teen stared at the poster hung in the hallway outside the bedroom of her family house. It said those words, written in bright red against a picture of smiling adults, dressed in clean pressed business suits with small, professional smiles on their clear faces. 

The teen looked nothing like the adults. She was just a teen, dressed in a school uniform.

But now, the spring was turning humid and balmy, the flowers blooming bright colors in the little, neat garden box the teen’s mother kept. It meant it was getting close to summer, which would be the first season of when the teen would be a teen no longer. She would be a woman, just like the adults in the picture on her door.

She just had to get through this one task first.

She had known about the tasks for years. It was not supposed to be difficult, everyone went through it if they wanted to grow up. Call it magic, call it witchcraft, or sinful, a future stained by blood, but the task was simply for a teen to kill the child of themselves in order to grow into an adult. This task was not figurative. The teen held a kitchen knife in her hand.

As a person grew away from playing make believe and sneaking into their parents room when they had a nightmare, another version of the child they were materialized. Most people kept the child in their closet, hidden away in a cardboard box. The teen did not like to look at hers. It was skinny and pale, bones jutting out and lips blue from being ignored for so long.

It was required to die only when a person was about to graduate from secondary school. The idea was that they still were a child until this point, and that by killing it now, they were getting rid of all the child within them. 

There could not be a functional society with the child staying with the adult. Adults would have foolish dreams, be distracted by naive ideals. Yes, there were few who did not kill their child. They were the unnerving artists, the fringes of society who could not get a job, everything the teen was taught she did not want to be.

So she opened her bedroom door, closing it with the poster behind her. She clutched onto the knife, her eyes staring at her closet.

The plain door seemed as though it was staring back at her, its brown wooden panels making her squirm under its gaze. She looked away, staring at her feet instead as she approached it. She squeezed her eyes shut and reached out to open the handle to the small space.

She pushed back the door, focusing on the brown cardboard box then. It sat on the top shelf of a rack. The bottom shelves held the teen’s shoes. The teen opened the lid of the box, peering inside. 

It was exactly what she expected. A version of herself she had seen in the mirror years ago. Big eyes stared up at her, tangled hair was sectioned into pigtails with hair ties that matched the colorful clothes the child wore. 

The child stared back up at her with a look of sadness, her weak body seemingly worn down with itself. 

The teen knew tasks such as this one were easier when she bit the bullet and got it over with. This would not even be that hard, she told herself. Yes, the teen felt great pity for the child, but that only meant she could view the murder as putting the poor child out of her suffering.

She raised the knife, the light from the window behind her casting a shadow of the weapon on the pale child in the box.

As she thrusted the weapon down, the teen saw everything happen in slow motion. The child’s eyes widened, and then they sharpened.

The child pushed herself out of the box, tumbling to the floor as the shelves fell to the floor in a large crash, hitting the teen’s shins and making her cry out in pain.

Her hands found her throbbing shins as she tried to orient herself. She took a shallow breath, her eyes searching for the child.

She was crawling to the door, tripping overself and grunting as she did. She looked to be six or seven years old, so the teen knew she should have been able to walk. Her movements seemed as though she was in worse pain than the teen was in.

The teen suddenly stood up, stalking towards the child. Only when she grabbed the child by the back of her shirt, pulling her onto her feet, did the teen realize she dropped the knife. It was likely scattered in all the broken shelves and shoes that fell.

She turned the teen around instead so she could see her face. Her eyes were red and puffy, her nose runny, but the teen tried not to look. She wrapped her hands around the child’s thin neck instead.

It is just me I am hurting. Not a real little girl. She told herself. Everyone who is an adult has done this. 

The child silently grappled for breath as the teen stared at her big eyes that they shared. She then felt a sharp pain in her gut, dropping the child as she did. 

The child retreated her leg that kicked the teen, then wobbled her way to the window. 

The teen dropped to the floor, shifting to the pile of shoes and shelves to frantically search for her knife. She quickly found the black handle, holding the cool metal in her sweaty palms as she stood.

She approached the teen who was desperately trying to get away, and stuck the knife in her back before the child realized she was there.

As soon as the point touched the skin, the child shifted. The knife was already lodged in her back, but she turned to the teen, attacking herself to her.

The child clawed at the teen, trying to bring her down at the ground. She could feel scratch marks on her skin and rips in her clothes. She struggled to get her shaking hands on the child, but once she did, she pulled the knife out of her back and threw her across the room. 

The child stayed in a ball there, blood staining her clothes before she got up and attempted to get to the window again.

The teen stalked over, grabbing the child’s wrist tight enough to leave a bruise. The teen looked up at her, then promptly bit the teen’s arm, forcing her to let go in pain and surprise.

The teen instinctively slapped the child, holding her by both shoulders this time.

“You were in that box for years? Why did you never escape if you wanted to so bad?” the teen asked, her words as sharp as daggers.

The teen jutted out her bottom lip, saying nothing. She squirmed in the teen’s arms, but the teen just pressed down tighter. The child kept squirming, though, so frantically that the teen did not know the child headbutted her until it had happened, forcing the teen yet again to drop the child

Her vision was blurry and her head pounded, but she just stared at the retreating child, screaming in frustration, “Why are you fighting this? You are not supposed to fight me!”

“You keep calling me you,” the child said. “I am you. Ask yourself.”

The teen did not process what the child said at first, feeling the blood pump strongly through her veins as she clutched on the knife. Then, her grip softened, the words washing over the shore of her brain, the ebb and flow struggling against the adrenaline coursing through her. The knife clattered to the wooden floor, making the teen snap out of it.

“We are each other,” the teen said dumbly. 

The child stood there in silence, the words heavy between them.

The teen had not understood it until then, she had not truly understood how the child of herself worked, or rather, she never admitted to herself how it worked. It was a part of her. It was a part of her that she did not wish to kill. A part she fought against the death of.

Childhood was blowing dandelions, making stupid, childish wishes until some adult told you to stop because it would create more weeds to grow. Because dandelions were just weeds and the white parts that twirled and spun in the wind like fairies were just seeds of destruction.

The teen clutched her empty hands together, wishing to hold on tightly to a dandelion, but there was none there. So, she scattered to the ground again, clumsy picking up the knife and pointing it to the child.

The fierceness of the child left, her eyes meeting the teen’s more as though she was a wiser mentor as opposed to the wild animal before. The teen tried to think of weeds filling up a perfect garden, but she only thought of dreams instead.

The teen dropped her arm yet again, the knife hanging with no intention to kill. The teen was not sure if she wanted to be a boring adult wearing a pantsuit matching all the rest of the adults on a poster, but she wanted to grow and become wiser, more learned of the world. How could someone grow, though, if they killed the part of them that saw the world in bright and shiny new eyes, their curiosity that only a child had? How could they if they forgot what it was to be unknowing but still so shrewd? How could they if they did not dream?

It was impossible, and it may be weeds, but fresh dandelions brought bursts of yellow between the cracks on the sidewalk.

April 01, 2022 04:53

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1 comment

Kendell Snyder
21:15 Apr 06, 2022

What a great reimagination of the figurative process of "growing up". Really cool :) Thanks for sharing!


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