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Stoplight This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Jennifer crawled just before the solid white line and just below the bright, blazing red stop light. She turned the car to the left a little when she noticed how near she had suddenly inched to the tired, white station wagon beside her. The broken white line that separated her from this ancient car seemed almost invisible now. She felt some sort of extraordinary magnet pulling her closer and closer to the car. All boundaries were lost and if she could not fall whim to the madness of the metal adhesive between the two cars, she had to look over, she just had to. She turned her head ever so slightly and gradually, she glanced over at the driver staring straight ahead at the chaotic intersection. His long arm was draped over the open window of the driver's side, the lengthy fingers of his hand holding a cigarette. The cigarette butt lost ashes at every flick of his fingers. Jennifer became enthralled with the falling ashes, once a vibrant, red flame, now decaying into the dust that slowly cascaded but rapidly accumulated onto the hard, gray asphalt of Main Street. She felt the fading summer's breeze warmly overtake her brown hair and capture those piles of the man's cigarette ash. The ash dispersed into the air like the ashes of a cremated body. Suddenly her eyes looked up at the man while his face, simultaneously, turned toward her. The breeze ended and the air was still, but not calm. All of a sudden, the air seemed colder, as if the summer night had turned to fall.

The man's long arm and fingers that extended outward with the cigarette suddenly receded. Jennifer followed his long arm to the ragged and worn white tee shirt with speckled spots of soil and faded paint. All her surroundings seemed to vanish as Jennifer looked up at the man's face. The streetlights overhead were tiny specks of sand high above the road. The red light that shone brilliantly became distorted into a blur of fire, burning like the dying flame of a candle. His thinning, midnight black hair was mixed with sharp silver strands that tried to shed some light on his diminishing, dark face. His lips formed a crooked, slim line that etched a solemn grin of remorseful nostalgia. His nose was exceedingly narrow and long like the rest of his lanky, thin body. Though it didn't appear sharp or prominent, it merely seemed to accentuate his look of despair and decay. However it was his eyes that exemplified his exhausted state. They were a dying blue, once-bright crystals of brilliant oceans, but they had lost their light and beauty. His eyelids drooped over, as did his thick black eyebrows, the tired eyes barely opened as they stared at young Jennifer's equally blue eyes. The man slowly smiled at her. Jennifer returned his smile, but she continued to stare at him with the amazingly curious though wise penetration she had felt the moment she saw him.

"Jennifer," he whispered.

"Dad," she replied. The man's eyes moistened a bit. The red light changed to green. The two drivers reluctantly switched their gazes to the road. The gentle summer's breeze blew once again as the man hung his cigarette out the window. The seemingly chilly air resumed a pleasant warmth as the old man turned right.


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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