Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Isaac's Desert

His sweatshirt was smeared with dirt and tears from several days alone, with no one to take care of him. Not that he needed it; no, he didn't need anyone to care for him. He never allowed anyone to reach out a caring hand in his direction. The boy never laughed.

He was wandering, out here alone. He didn't know where he was, just that he was in a barren, bleak wasteland, a desert in which the sun never shone and the clouds, though present, didn't have a silver lining. Why was he so miserable? He was surprised to hear the question echoing in his mind.

It was because of them, of course, that he was alone. They were so organized, proper, good. All they wanted was to make him happy, but he wouldn't allow them to. He didn't deserve it. He had been rejected.

Rejected, tossed out by his own mother, who he didn't remember, and he thought maybe everyone should just go away and let him live--or die-- on his own now, forever and ever, or until he just couldn't take it anymore and he wandered farther into this desert, to the point of no return. Then onward until the ominous waves of his own Red Sea came crashing down on his tousled head.

Sometimes he thought that would be best, easier, maybe. But something in him knew that the easy road was not always the right one, and he thought it was braver, stronger, more noble to tough it out and keep on moving through this desert.

There was noise in this desert, but he couldn't hear it through the morbid gloom that always surrounded him. It was a way, a defense mechanism, to hide from the pain, the rejection, the sadness that filled his young life. No one could penetrate his shell, and though he felt safe, he also felt as though the prison he had created for himself was at the edge of a cliff, and any moment it all might come tumbling down.

He never laughed--never, never. He was the boy who sat stonily always and he wondered now if it had been days since his lips had formed words. Often he went for weeks at a time without speaking. He didn't need to; his life was controlled completely by others. He wondered what he would do in the future, or maybe he would just continue wandering through this wasteland forever with no aim or purpose.

But his desert was changing. Before the landscape had been a blur, rows of small, plain houses and quaint businesses in a town, then another, then a stretch of green and brown farmland...But now he was in a city. He almost opened his mouth to ask where he was, but there were no words. He stayed silent and still, and as usual, was not acknowledged by anyone. Soon the city passed from his eyes and they were in farmland again. His heart calmed; he didn't like change, and a sudden one as the city's appearance shook him greatly.

He watched out the window as the car pulled up in front of a blue-shuttered Colonial on a stately street. He still didn't know where he was in the desert, but this place did not seem like home.

Until he saw the drawing. He had to squint his eyes to see what it was at first: a drawing of the house he was looking at and a tall boy with brown eyes and dark skin and hair. He stared at it for a few seconds until he realized he was looking at a picture of himself. In the scribbly crayon drawing, he was being hugged by a smiling family. Above the picture were the words Welcome Home in second-grade style scribbles.

A lump rose in his throat, but he didn't know why. It seemed strange, very strange, that they would have done such a thing for him. After all, he had been rejected, tossed away, forfeited. Why would they love him?

Mechanically, he climbed out of the car and stood quietly on the sidewalk. They came out of the house now: a man, a woman, two boys. All were smiling. All were holding out their arms--what did they expect him to do? He glanced at the picture again, stared at the waxy, grinning 'family' and knew what he had to do. He walked slowly and steadily across the desert to the oasis where they stood. Carefully, he raised his arms and wrapped them awkwardly around the group. They squeezed him back and he felt a dash of hope, of life come into his form. He felt like he could see the end of his desert, and he had enough strength to continue through. Though this home was just an oasis, a stopping point on his journey, he knew that one day he would step out of the sand and into fresh, green grass, where his bare toes would be warmed by the sun and he would run--yes, run-- into the future that seemed like it might be worthwhile after all.

He continued to hug them, and he felt no longer like the sullen, silent boy that had been driven here. Instead, he felt fulfilled and--could it be?--happy.

"Welcome, Isaac," said one of his new brothers.

Yes. At last, Isaac Waters was happy.

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

IMSteelThis 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...
Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm
This is a great story: patiently written, and perfectly descriptive for a story of this length. I like the way you described the boys surroundings but vaguely, and it only became apparent where he was towards the end. Great job, and keep writing!
Site Feedback