The Adulthood of Children

Essay by asgunuHigh School, 10th gradeA, February 2008

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The adulthood of children“Kevin, your shoe’s untied.”His sister, Jane, sits on the doorstep, grinning. An old Japanese Maple stands beside her, its bare arms outstretched towards the empty sky as if pleading for better times. Above, magpies silently circle overhead, framed by a blanket of blue. He limps forward towards the door, a muffled crackling emanating from his feet as a mass of red and brown foliage is pounded underfoot.

“I’m not kidding, Kevin, your laces are undone. You’re going to trip”, Jane insists, her 7-year-old voice causing him to wince in annoyance. Her attempted jests irritate him; he is too old for this nonsense.

As he attempts to move past the doorstep, his right foot unexpectedly clings to the pavement, as if on wet concrete. Surprised, he staggers, yet manages to jerk his foot upwards and moves as if to continue walking.

“You’d better look down,” Jane taunts in her singsong voice, her unnatural grin fixed at maximum width across her face.

Following his misgivings, he glances down, only to find a wad of chewing gum pasted to the bottom of his worn sneaker. Jane howls with laughter, her stringy brown hair quivering in wicked delight. Exasperated, he hastily removes the soiled shoe, aiming a loose kick at his sister with his socked foot, but involuntarily grabs his thigh as an intense pain rips up his leg. Jane screams, running into the house, and hides behind his mother.

“Mum! Kevin kicked me! He’s going to get me!” she shrieks.

“Jane!” his mother cries, running to the girl’s side. “Are you hurt?” Her caring demeanor vanishes as she turns to glare at Kevin, face as hard as stone and a disposition to match.

“Leave your little sister alone. You have no idea what being an older brother means,” she growls.

Jane peeks out from behind his mother and taunts him. “Yeah, Kevin.”She sniggers unkindly. She loves this.

Kevin opens his mouth as if to reply, but thinking better of it, stops and shakes his head. Instead he struggles upstairs unnoticed, his mother lavishing all her attention on Jane.

He carefully treads the many timber floorboards to his room, shuts the door and collapses on his bed. Carelessly he wrenches one of his pant legs up past the knee. Thoughts of his “friends” invade his head, as he emotionlessly examines the congealed blood surrounding yet another new-formed scar. He balls his hands into fists and glares at the roof without seeing it, simmering with frustration at his weakness. He starts from his reverie, throwing the cuff back, rolling under his blanket in search of refuge. Losing himself in the covers; images of little significance flash through his mind. He burrows deep, blocking out the world, finding the threads of thought from times he thought forgotten.

Deeper and deeper he goes. Beneath lidded eyes, he sees an all-consuming darkness etching forward, relentless, gradually eroding the refined edge of his mind, leaving him barely wisps of those thoughts that he so lovingly examined. He cannot piece them together. He is confused. No longer can he contemplate, for the darkness has grown. It beckons. He can offer no resistance.

The brother of Death swoops and seizes him in its grasp.

* * *“The older I grow the more earnestly I feel that the few joys of childhood are the best that life has to give.” - Ellen Glasgow“When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults” – Brian W. Aldiss* * *The sun is pursued by the billowy clouds and pushed just over the horizon; the sky turns a deep red in readiness for the night. A shrill wind picks up, fluttering through what remains of Kevin’s hair. He hunches his shoulders and marches across the street to his front door. His eyes momentarily move over the doorstep, where a young girl often sat but sits no more. He inserts the key and the door opens, an eerie silence meeting his ears.

He walks inside, footsteps reverberating through the stale air. The kitchen passes by on his right; the dust on the stove lies thick.

A whirlwind of emotions consume him as he stumps along, taking care to slowly lift his knees as if he were walking through water. A childhood lost, an adulthood squandered. The now weathered timber floorboards creak in protest as he walks the distance to his room. He slowly lies on his bed, searching for that fleeting solace he once found behind lidded eyes.

Until the day Death swoops and seizes him in its grasp.

Bibliography: No external help obtained.