I took a walk through her life one day. And I tripped and blushed and shivered and laughed and yelled and cried. The walk through her memories was not serene. It was not fun or carefree. On the contrary, I walked on a rope of the thinnest strands ever made. The frightening part, however, was not the walk, but that I only discovered I was on a tightrope about midway.
The rope began at a street called Fourth Grade. A beautiful blissful street. It danced a jig of carelessness, innocence and young brilliance. Potential breathes for her on Fourth Grade Street. An aroma of easy happiness rises up to meet me. Brooks stumble on rocks with cheerfulness only they can achieve. Trees sway in the wind with acceptance rather than annoyance. Everything seems to envelop me and I try and stay as long as I can on her charming avenue. But my balance does not really let me, so I jovially move on. Naïvely believing her next street or corner will be just as lovely.
Ah ignorance! I turn the corner, trying desperately to keep my stance, and stop short. The stench of death takes the place of that heavenly aroma. And a new word is born into her dictionary. Orphan. The black burn of her despair and sadness fogs my vision. A raven flies in front of me and lands on a bare branch. It makes an awful sound. I have never felt such emptiness. The weeping willow stares at me and then goes back to its wavering. Bending to the bidding of its wails. Then a terrible voice slices the air in two. It is soft and monotone. It whispers; I miss the world that shines with billions of stars
because their light hasn’t gone out yet
I miss that world that frolics with the sun
because it hasn’t been rained on yet
Shaking, I turn the corner to get away from the hollow. But not much is better here. The street is called Adolescence. There are touches of laughter. And caresses of flowers. Words twist in silly patterns and somehow land on pieces of paper. I see the face of confusion and it scares me because I recognize it. I hear mummers and sighs and days filled with bitter cries. Insecurity hisses through the cracks in the walls. Anger sweeps through the alleys. Criticism croons and purrs and makes its appearance, altogether, too often. But one thing makes me happy. For her intelligence has swelled. Intelligence through experience. Intelligence through thought. Intelligence through work. And though a trail of blood water trickles throughout, it grows like a sycamore. Going up and up and up.
Gripping the tightrope, I round the curve that signals the end of my journey. I look down and see a girl standing on the lane called Weary. I taste the salt of a tear and am silent. I look at her and she looks back. I whisper, I miss that world too
And she nods. Then I gesture for a ladder. And come down.
Chaya Ungar, Age 17, Grade 12, Congregation Bnos Yaakov, Silver Key