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2nd Prize Winner - Group III - Innocence

April, 2015
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Her new friends yell, “Double trouble!” as the curvy brunette holds two ice blue bongs to her mouth, inhaling the fumes of instant bliss.

It was always this way, not the smoking or the partying, but she always felt incomplete. She searched endlessly for a way to grow up or escape. Maybe one could blame it on a divorce that happened a decade ago, but it was in her nature.

No one seemed to notice her destructive tendencies, yet there were signs from before juvenescence. Stealing, lying, cheating, anything to pass the time, while the rest waited for her attention patiently. Her power came from fascination, looking up to her bravado for any residual energy that could be absorbed. They were blinded by this energy, even when the use of her powers were selfish, which they often were.

On the other hand, the light could not fool her best friend. Her blonde friend had spent her life as the sidekick, but wasn’t bothered by the lack of attention. Though whenever she received praise for intelligence, looks, or even athletic ability, she would immediately be put back in the place she was thought to belong, on the sidelines. Occasionally, she wondered if that was really were she was meant to be, but she told herself that it was for the best, why would the dark-haired girl ever do anything to hurt her?

The two girls spent their life together, from the moment their mothers felt comfortable bearing their post-birth bodies at the pool, they were destined.

At the age of 4, they had their first real fight with each other. One came out of the principal’s office with tears and blood dripping down her face, the other holding her stomach, making sure the bloody bite marks didn’t reach her sparkly pink new shirt. A day later, they made up and decided to share the scooter.

At the age of 7, they stole for the first time; not your average steal, but $100 dollars of her brother’s money. Yes, $100 would solve all your problems at this age, and you had to share the news with all your friends. This resulted in the second time they came out of the principal’s office crying together. One cried because of the scolding, the other cried because she had lost the key to all her problems, maybe even a way to get her parents back together. She thought money always helped, her parents seemed to complain about it so much.

At the awkward age of 11, they had their first adventure. They set off to the mall, which was complete with the essential Abercrombie and Jamba Juice. No real trouble came from this excursion. Her mother had ordered them to remain home, but the rush she felt from disobeying came increasingly with puberty. Eclipsing the overachieving prepubescent girl was an era of impulsive behavior.

The era of devastation began in the summer. They had been apart for just over a year, so their need for significance had peaked, and even the sensible one could see no harm. They left the apartment at two in the morning, skateboards in hand and a gleam in their eyes from the feel of puissance. Admirers of their skateboards came up, and spoke with an air of importance and maturity. The drunken strangers deemed them ‘the future generation of rebellion’; one left with pride, one with regret.

On a small island off the coast of Spain, those same two girls lay awake side-by-side, restless, hoping for a chance to be independent. Not understanding the full meaning of independence, they chose a trip to the beach little after midnight. In a ditch at the side of an interstate lay the girls, waiting for the loud sirens to cease wailing so they could continue their journey. Through the small town of Porto Cristo and down a rusted ramp leading to the beach awaited their first real encounter with boys. An infatuation with them began for her at 12, and to hear a boy invite her down to the water with a compliment was all she needed to shed her outer layer of clothing to reveal a skimpy swimsuit. She left her friend waiting at the top of the ramp, as she dove into her new life.

Two months passed without a word shared. The now full-figured girl went to a beautiful place of futile encounters and foreign highs, which accompanied the intake of substance. Substance that came in the form of thin white lines or lit at the end of a makeshift joint. The experience and rash actions of people surrounding her only further persuaded her to prove her loyalty in a race towards maturity as she decided to rid herself of purity. It was the final key in forsaking her childhood.

She did not find a sense of fulfillment, but a depression, one that led to the questioning of her choices and appearance. By the time of her birthday, on December 14th, she had become an outline, thin and incomplete. Her clothes hung loose at her hips and her lips were forever chapped, concealed by a vibrant shade of bubblegum pink lipstick.

Her former best friend only nodded and whispered an acknowledgement of a day they used to celebrate. As they parted, she said, “I wish I could have been there.” Tears in her eyes, she turned around, and led the girl she once knew to a bench surrounded by wilting roses and snow. They spoke of that summer and the reasons behind her decisions; they spoke of envy and insecurity, of scars and stimulants.

Her friend felt nothing but relief as she was pulled away to talk. Somehow it was the way things were meant to go; Scar was meant to cross the great divide between childhood and adulthood. Yet she never quite made it out of the instant; something lay forgotten on the wrong side of the screen during her short-lived coming of age tale. It could have been her childhood, memories, innocence or naiveté, but it was in the past, and she could only move forward.


By Lucy Russell
Yew Chung International School of Shanghai


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