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Your year was the year that the leaves on the tree outside my window didn’t turn orange in the fall. In the spring it had buds and baby leaves and in the summer it presented itself in its fullest splendor; the green leaves filtering the yellow sunlight and turning it gold. But in autumn, the leaves did not turn the shade of orange that I had grown up loving. They turned brown and dropped from the trees like crumpled up paper bags.
You were a springtime baby, born perfectly imperfect. Your heart was too small for your body and they were worried you couldn’t survive, so they cut you out of our mother when you were the size of a baby doll to hook you up to a machine.
Our mother, our father and I could not hold you, because as soon as soon they pulled you out of the slice in our mothers stomach they whisked you away. They put you in a little glass box, an incubator, with holes that I could put my sanitized hands through. There were so many wires attached to you, snaking around you, getting tangled in your tiny limbs that it was almost impossible to actually touch you.
But you got stronger. I held you for the first time. I clung to you like you were fading away from me, holding you so close I could feel your little heart pounding. It matched each beat of mine with five of your own, struggling to push blood through a body the size of my forearm.
The day we were going to take you home doctors told us your heart had made a valiant effort but couldn't support you much longer. They told us that you would certainly be returning to the hospital soon. Certainly. But every day you deified those doctors. You turned four, five then six months, getting stronger all the time. For the first time, we allowed ourselves hope. We clung to that hope when, a few weeks later, you were rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. My parents went with you but I stayed at home. Hoping.
Your coffin, like everything else about you, was little. Your head rested on the pillow, eyes closed, your body unnaturally still. I sat in the front row, away from everyone else, my mind numb of all thought except for the size of your coffin. It was so small.




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