Map of the World This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     He walked with a jump in his gait; heartbeats tap-danced in his chest and were echoed in each step. Every step was a step toward a future he wasn’t ready for. On his face was a plane of fresh, flat skin; on his hands, stories; on his fingers, words; his lips, kisses; his eyes reading the writing on the wall but not wanting to hear the message. It’s your turn now, son echoed off his eardrums, pounded on his anvils, stood in his stirrups, beat with his hammer, and swirled through the canals to his brain. His mind buzzed with everything that surrounded him: the cool ground that touched the tips of his big toes as he dragged them, prolonging the inevitable; the red flags that fluttered behind the lines of soldiers that pre- vented him from stepping to the side and fleeing his fate; the mile-long walk; the guns that glistened, unused but poised to bite at a kneecap or elbow; the looks of calm respect in the soldiers’ eyes because they knew their job: protect the young man, with his head shaved so close that the only shadows were of the little pebbles of hair that dared peek out, too scared to face the masses; the mile-long walk that was now only a quarter of a mile; the slapping of his sandals on the cobblestone; the look that would undoubtedly be on the Emperor’s face.

The Emperor’s face, rippled with oceans of wisdom, ridged with mountains of knowledge, a map of the world on his face, words as smooth as silk on his tongue, hands that tingle the skin, shake a little, have rivers of veins snaking their way along their lengths, tributaries of blemishes and scars wrapping around bones that have been hurt and bruised, loved by a woman with eyes so deep in love, so deep brown, so thoroughly encompassing, that when they fell upon the Emperor, his thoughts were grains of sand on a beach, swept away to the depths of the sea, maybe to resurface when he did from her eyes, alive and breathing and ready to grow old with her. Ready to be a leader, to lead his nation, to learn his traditions and to raise a family who would appreciate the crevices in his face. The map that details everywhere he’s been, and predicts, tells where his son, the future of the nation, will go: from Japan to Russia to America to France, to fall in love and writhe in the pain of hate, to feel the hunger of his people and to bathe in the gluttony of his own wealth, swimming in the fact that one day he would die.

And the young man who walked one mile from his room to the steps of the palace, lined on both sides with thousands of guards; with red flags flapping and symbolizing a new dynasty; with sandals shuffling in fear, in anticipation, something the Emperor wouldn’t understand because he outgrew that emotion decades ago. He would take his place, would feel the cool waters of the brook that ran through the palace, would fall in love with a pretty princess from another province, would go places, would experience things and would become a map, an atlas, a picture of the future and a picture of the past. On the steps as a blank canvas, his almond-shaped eyes full of questions that would only be answered by sitting on the Emperor’s throne, by growing up, by being the future, by excelling beyond his yesterdays and becoming tomorrow today. The writing was on the wall, he just didn’t want to read the message.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 33 comments. Post your own now!

Braves1011 said...
Mar. 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm
awesome story. the details were great. you're a great writer. please check my work out and comment
MarieAntoinette2012 replied...
Jan. 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Hey Dont, who exactly do you think you are? No writers stories are petty. I find it petty that you have such a bloated sense of self confidence that you feel the need to break down everyone else!
Gideon replied...
May 28, 2015 at 7:39 pm
Whoa, whoa. No need to fight. But please, everyone, be nice. Writing is difficult, and no one is perfect. We don't need to pick on those who state it or those who don't.
dragonhawk17 said...
Oct. 31, 2010 at 11:13 am
Wow. I always hear that you should show, not tell, and this story does just that. Great job!
teen_queen said...
Jul. 13, 2010 at 2:19 am
That was really good! Please read my story, Love or Drama and remember to rate and comment, bye! Again, great job on your article!
Dont replied...
Dec. 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm
Dont use the story as an excuse to advertise your petty stories.
Amberleaf replied...
Aug. 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm
Don't Be So Rude and it's Don't btw
Darktress replied...
Aug. 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm
? who r u talking to ?
Amberleaf replied...
Aug. 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm
Also no-ones stories are petty except maybe yours
Amberleaf replied...
Aug. 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm
Srry not talking to you I'm talking to dont
sassymscass12 said...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm
all i can say is wow!! this is a great story!
legolas_elf said...
Nov. 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm
This was great, I loved how you compared the lines on his face to a map. I love to write poems comparing things in nature to other things. Could you read my poem at
Dont replied...
Dec. 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm
Dont use the story as an excuse to advertise your petty stories.
evie_girl_novelette445 said...
Nov. 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm
Very good! The first time I read it, I was a bit confused. (I think there were too many adjectives!) but other than that, great work! I'd like to read more!
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