Resignation This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The last day of her life passed in a dizzy streak of memory, painted across the canvas of this day that would be stacked away with the rest of the canvases, one of the final days of years of decades of days. It would be piled onto the dull brown days, one more in an indistinguishable muddle of dull brown days, with their rotting frames and barely-there streaks of color. Her pictures, her days, had been beautiful once - but those days were few and very, very old, kept treasured and polished and loved even with their fading colors and childish strokes.

She had been young once, and her pictures bright and young, too, with brushstrokes of optimism and promise and desire. The spirit of youth had swept her up and shown her how the world could be changed in so many ways; her dreams had blossomed into beautiful creatures with flowers as wide as dinner plates but stems as thick as thread. She had wanted to be a doctor, to find a cure for her sick mother, to find a cure for the ills of the world. She had wanted to marry the man she loved - she knew when she met him that he was the one, that he was the rest of her life. Her friend had laughed and called them puzzle pieces: they were disjointed and detached from the rest of the world, but with each other they fit perfectly. He was the sun to her dismal little planet, and as long as she had him the paintings of her life would be vibrant and beautiful and alive.

But the woman was old now, old and worn and lonely, her brushstrokes heavy-handed and filled with regrets. Her mother had died just after she sent an application to medical school, and when the rejection letter came, it was as if all the beautiful architecture she had tried to sculpt into her life came tumbling down around her head. She and her friend had gotten into an ongoing, pointless quarrel - about what, she couldn't even remember after all these years, and that was what broke her heart the most. But back then she was proud and stubborn and held her tongue, and after a few years when she realized that she needed him back to keep her sane, she couldn't even find the country he had moved to. And then the man she loved had left to fight the war in Vietnam, despite her screams and rants and tears - and maybe that hadn't helped, but she was young and selfish and all she had wanted was to keep him tied to her side forever and ever. Yet he had still gone off and gotten himself missing in action - but she knew what missing in action really meant, and she tried to reconcile herself to the fact that she would never again hear his laugh or press her lips against brown-sugar skin. She closeted herself in her own little world for days, which turned into weeks which turned into months and, if she was truthful with herself, turned into years. There had been millions of men who died in Vietnam, but there was only one she had cared about and he was gone, lost to bullets and dirt and jungle. They couldn't even find his body; all she had to cry over was an empty grave that the gardener sometimes forgot to water. She wasted her life on crushed dreams and stubbornness and a refusal to acknowledge that she was wrong, and after the world had abandoned her - or so she thought - she vowed to abandon it.

She had told herself that she would do something with her life, craft something intricate and beautiful and lovely that would change the world; but the world has a way of staying unchangeable that the deepest of human emotions can't budge. Even to the end, there was a little scrap of hope - a little voice in her head that she tried her hardest to silence - that said maybe he'll come back, just maybe just maybe, missing in action doesn't mean always dead you know and it's never been confirmed, but as the years spun on and on it grew smaller and smaller until she was lying on her deathbed with life draining out of her pores, and she smothered it for the last time. For idealism is a costly virtue, one for the rich and the young and the pretty, and as the old woman lay dying, it was one she couldn't afford.





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PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm
really good work keep it up   could you please check out and comment on my story Numb.  i would really appreciat the feedback
 
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