Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Cornfield Girl

Her delirious eyes trained themselves on the unfamiliar, duplicated house. The hot harvest sun of new October beat down on her feverish back as she struggled to pull even the smallest amount of oxygen out of her surroundings. She lifted one shaking, scraped hand bearing traces of former beauty but that was now so scarred that it was barely identifiable as belonging to a human and placed it on the stubbly remains of what she assumed used to be this year’s corn crop. She lifted her other hands and placed it beside the first, barely able to support herself. The small, frail figure put her weight on her hands and felt the two inch corn stalks splinter her hands and reopen some of the many scrapes that were already there. Her arms threatened to give way, even as she pulled her starving, sickly body a few inches forward. Her rag-bound broken foot bounced on the ground, and she cried out in pain, only to realize that she had no voice. Up ahead, she heard the slam of a screen door, as a whistling man in a red shirt and jeans left the little farmhouse. She tried to call for help, but couldn’t make a single sound escape her dry throat, no matter how hard she tried. The sun beat down on her neck, pink and peeling with sunburn after many days of crawling through the rural landscape thirty miles outside of Hays, Kansas. Surely, the people here would at least give her a bite to eat. If not, she would perish before she left their property, her deathbed the newly harvested fields. How ironic that would be, to breath your last breath in the middle of a farmer’s field, having been turned away the few bites that would have saved your withering life.

She struggled to pull herself forward yet again, feeling the sting as the sharp ground splintered itself into her hand like a knife. Her arms shook with the effort of her now tiny body and gave way. She plunged downward the few remaining feet, her face coming to rest suddenly on the rough soil. The dying plants that had just moments ago been pushing themselves into her hands now took on her face as a new target. The scrapes and scabs on her pale, once pretty forehead proved that she had fallen before, that this was not new to her. Her unhealthily thin body shook with sickness, shivering despite the choking heat. Her face was hollow, too red to be normal, and her soft brown hair hung in tangled, soaking locks around it. Taking a deep breath, she pushed herself upward onto her hands again. A new cut had sprung open above her right eye, and she tried to blink away the trickle of blood now dripping down past it.

Again, she lifted up one hand and placed it in six inches ahead, feeling the golden daggers slit her hands open once more. She placed the other hand next to it, feeling her weight distribute on the equally bloody hand. Her palms were past sore, they were numb from exhaustion and pain. She couldn’t feel anything except for the feeling that death was coming for her, as sure as the sun would rise again tomorrow. Still, the sun beat down on her back, as she inched forward once again. She placed her hands forward, locked her starving and weak elbows, and then dragged herself another three inches. She repeated this slow, painful process seven more times before her arms began to shudder violently. Again, they gave way, and again, she found herself plunging to the ground. This time, though, she did not struggle to get up. She barely had the energy to keep inhaling and exhaling. She distributed her weight as evenly as possible, trying to eliminate more damage to her soft and fragile skin. As she struggled to stay conscious, she remembered.

Fifteen years ago, she was two. Her mom brushed her hair, ever so gently, into two pigtails. The gentle tugging of the brush and the scraping of the bristles hurt, and she was mad. She was crying, screaming. She did not want to hold still. The girl in the cornfield screamed and cried, like the two year old that she had once been. But unlike the time when she was two, she made no noise, and moved nothing but her mouth. Instead, her jaw was open in a frantic, silent scream, her eyes rolling in her head. As she tried to bring herself back to wakefulness, another memory crashed over her.

She was five, climbing on the ugly orange-yellow bus for the very first time. The other children were so intimidating, as she walked down the aisle and sat in the looming brown seat. It was taller than she was, and it smelled funny, like the markers her mom used to write her name on her folders and notebooks. As the bus pulled away, she felt the seat shake slightly. She pulled her face up to the window, and saw her mom right outside. She waved, her little chin balanced on the small edge, her nose to the glass. Her mother spotted her and waved back, as the girl in the cornfield swept one of her bloody palms back and forth to an apparition that only she could see.

She was eight, and she was walking home from the bus. Her head was down, and she tried to conceal the tears pouring down her sticky face. She couldn’t ever hold her head high again, after what that boy did to her on the bus. He was right about her. In the cornfield, tears poured down the mangled face of the tossing and turning girl.

It was her thirteenth birthday, but instead of having a party with friends and cake like she should have, she was standing in the hospital, holding her mother’s bony hand. The monitor beeped softly at regular intervals. The sheets were too white, her mother blended in too well. The smell was all too clean, like something was about to happen. Suddenly, everything seemed silent. She wondered why. The beeping had stopped. She looked at her mother’s face, which had, only days ago, been lively and full of energy, but was now an eerie ghost-like color. The fingers enclosed in her hand were growing colder, as the face lost all traces of life. Tears began to spill from her eyes, as she bent down and kissed her mother’s forehead for the last time. She stood up, and stepped numbly away as the nurses came rushing in. One of the nurses walked over to her, looking like an alien in loose teal scrubs. In that moment, reality finally hit. She screamed, the most horrible, love and grief filled scream, as she sank to the floor. Her scream didn’t stop, and neither did the one of the girl in the field. She was finally making noise, the most horrible sound the farmer had ever heard. He turned, and saw the writhing, screaming heap in the middle of his field, and still the girl cried.

She was sixteen, and she felt the blow that her father’s hand delivered to her face. She grabbed her backpack and walked out the front door. She reached the street and ran, ignoring the piercing wind spreading frozen tentacles up her body. Her father called after her as she ran, but she didn’t turn back. She would never turn back, come back to this hole of torture where she had been since two weeks after her thirteenth birthday. Her feet pounded the sidewalk as her hair whipped in the wind. The thumping feet in the cornfield of the farmer kept time with the thumping foot of the girl, twisting and turning with sickness and insanity. “Joyce,” Called the farmer. “Come here!”

Two days ago, she was walking through the field. She had lost her possessions weeks ago, and was just trying to survive, taking fruit from trees she passed to keep her on her feet, occasionally earning enough money to buy a roll or some meat. She was walking along the street, looking as if she had a purpose, but she was only trying to get farther and farther away from her father. Then, her foot fell in a hole. She screamed as she twisted and fell to the ground, and heard her foot snap. The thrashing child in the cornfield screamed, and fell silent. She fell into a yawning abyss of darkness, still screaming with insanity and grief and every other feeling she had ever felt. Suddenly, her voice went quiet, and her body went still. Her eyes closed peacefully, as she lost all contact with the world. She no longer smelled the corn, she no longer saw the hazy house in the distance. She no longer felt the bloody scrapes and cuts tearing up her hands, nor the grief for her mother tearing up her heart. She didn’t hear the soft woman’s voice say, just above her,
“Is she dead?”





Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Megan.J.BThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm
I really enjoyed this piece of writing. This is perhaps one of the better ones I have read on the site. The way that you play with emotions really is a gift. I agree with the comment from Ellawind that perhaps in the first two paragraphs there was a little too much description, so much so that I got swallowed up in it. The rest was well-written and emotionally driven. :) Good Work!
 
lilmartz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm
This was so intense! I could picture this very well, and it was almost like I was actually there. I loved how you kept the story moving. There was just so much to this, I had no idea it would be this great. This is really good, I like this a lot. Nice work :)
 
Ellawind said...
Jan. 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm
Whoa, that was intense. I was sitting there biting my fist as I read it. Really well-done descriptions, although some in the first couple paragraphs may be too much. The only thing I would change is maybe have something worse than just starvation have happened to her, because I don't feel like just that would cause her to be so fragile. Maybe, I dunno, but still. AMAZING. That was incredibly powerful, DEFINITELY keep writing. 
 
Macx14 said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm
Fabulous imagery and descriptions. Great job!
 
youngpilot replied...
Feb. 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm
wow! very intense and very well written. you certainly should be very proud of this:)
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback