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

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   The door is shut, the blinds are closed and the lights are off. The only light remaining in my dormant room comes from the closet. It is the light by which I write now, although it is not consistent with the light we embrace daily. It is a black light. Its lurid glow only faintly lights my paper, for the bulk of its gift is consumed as it descends through my jungle closet.

My deceptive jungle appears to be an average closet with its poker-faced doors shut. However, little does the spectator know that after the jerky opening of the carpet-hindered left door, its magnificence far surpasses the looks of its facade. The closet is divided into two worlds by a small wooden divider placed against the back wall. The divider is perpendicular to the line where the doors of east and west meet. Over this divider the two worlds sharply contrast. However, like the invisible line drawn by two siblings forced to share a room, the worlds occasionally extend past their natural traits and encroach on each other.

One world is my history, the other is my storage. My history is more exciting. The waist-high shelf in my history marks the beginning of the clutter that will be scrutinized as one's pupils creepingly climb toward the big black light in the sky. Upon it rests a cement skull, a clear plastic box which accommodates my receipts for the past two years, a piggy bank squealing for lack of change, a small plastic "Boston Chicken" gravy container hefty with change, a now-collectable Pepsi bottle to which the head of a rubber figurine of the Stay-Puff marshmallow man is fastened. Also adorning the neck of this cloudy old bottle remain the rubber bands I constantly used when my hair was chin-length and parentally despised. Between the shelf and a bar running below is wedged a computer keyboard, protruding from the shelf. Not daring to exit the jungle, it wallows in its misery of being reduced from technology to decoration. It was picked up for pennies at a garage sale; pack rat instincts endowed by my mother.

Tacked, pasted, hung, and painted onto the walls surrounding and rising from this shelf are the trinkets of my life. Action-hero pictures, my kindergarten name-tag whose scratch 'n' sniff bubble-gum aroma has long since faded, the remains of every childhood, preteen, and adolescent fad I ever took part in, every train ticket, every ticket stub, every varsity letter and every homecoming fund-raiser item, every "Hello My Name Is" card, even the souvenirs of relationships gone bad and tough times remain to remind me of where I'm coming from - everything. The cream-colored walls cannot be seen in this jungle closet. As if it is the thick ivy on a red-brick wall, the foliage of my life, grows up the hidden walls of my closet. The leaves are all different colors and textures, crazy patterns, boring white voids, amusing cartoons, stolen property, curling magazine cutouts, dog-eared invitations and birthday cards, condiment-stained restaurant menus.

To spectators, excitement comes as their hands divide the psychedelically colored beads that cascade down and form the fourth wall of my jungle closet. As their socks begin to glow in the strange light, I see delight in their faces. They humorously feign some non-existent "trip" in the dark glow and flower-child colors. Finally it is time to kick the door shut; to protect it from prying relatives and arch enemies. I shall never allow this lush and vulnerable ecosystem to be prostituted to the eyes of the undeserving. c


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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