Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Unknown World This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The gray minivan door slowly buzzes open to the Unknown World. An ocean of chipped black pavement striped with fading yellow paint waits outside the car door. Large cars bask in the cool September sun, patiently letting children and adults spill out. The girls and boys showcase brand new Barbie and Power Rangers backpacks and the moms grip designer purses. The air is tense with anxiety and smells like the mixed perfumes of mothers who ran out of the house hastily, not wanting to miss their child’s “big moment.” A shockingly cold gust of wind sweeps out the remaining heat of the summer. It sends dead leaves around in a small tornado, their wrinkled bodies scraping the parking lot. Up ahead, I spot a large playground screaming, “Play on me! Play on me!” and in my head I scream back “I will, just wait!” Nimble, fuzzy squirrels scurry up towering trees and birds chirp in harmonized voices. The altitudinous trees’ looming branches are covered with yellowing leaves trying to hold onto the branches with all of their might. A wide path leads up a small incline to where mommies and girls and boys stand nervously, waiting for the ruler of the Unknown World to welcome them in. Children cling to their parents’ bodies in pure fear with their mouths clamped shut. Their small eyes glow from utter trepidation, not wanting to know what lies beyond the door. Small beads of sweat dot their childish faces, and I even think some of the sweat, but rather tears. That’s not gonna be me, that’s not gonna be me, that’s not gonna be me, I tell myself, desperately trying to believe it. But, there are a few brave souls who actually run and play with other children, playing tag and hide and seek. One girl with long blonde hair jumps up and down as she sprints around the blacktop; a tall girl with brown pigtails follows closely behind, shouting some inaudible words. She’s smiling.

Mommy sighs, breaking me out of my trance. “I can’t wait!” she exclaims, smiling. Then softens her expression once seeing mine. “Are you excited?”

Yeah, I am, I whisper in my mind. She peers at me through the rearview mirror. Her eyes radiate with coaxing warmth and her lips turn upward into a smile. Mommy’s shoulders are relaxed under her gray V-neck sweater, and her delicate hands are resting on the driving wheel. Her happy energy sends a wave of rippling calmness throughout my body. If Mommy is happy, then I can be brave for her, I tell myself. I’m going to the Unknown World, aren’t I? But, even after saying this to myself, I know this will be a tough journey for me. It’s not everyday you get to go to the Unknown World, you know. These thoughts just quicken my heartbeat from a light pounding of a knock, to when you get the chance to beat your heart out on a drum you get as a toy for Christmas.

“Yeah,” I squeak, looking at her with as much pride as I can muster.

“I know you can.”

I smooth out my brown dress as best as I can, trying to look like a big girl, not like a tall, lanky five year old who just bought new brown shoes that you can tell don’t fit her because of how she trips and clunks around. My shoulder length light brown hair hangs down, brushing my collar bone, is pushed back with a pink headband. I picked out the outfit all by myself . . . with a little bit of help from Mommy.

OK, you can do this, I think tentatively. Get out of the car. My arm loops through my Barbie Car backpack’s straps and I hoist it out of the car in a flash. I had been practicing going to the Unknown World for many days now and I feel very confident about how I can pull this off. I leap out of the car in one swift motion and whip the large pink bag onto my frail, tan shoulders. Mommy follows quickly, turning off the car and shutting our doors. She herds me in the direction of the path.

“You think you’re gonna like your teacher?” she questions as we head up the hill.

“I guess.” I shade my eyes from a sudden sunburst.

Mommy turns to me as we scurry up the steep path, her eyes twinkling with delight.

“You ready to be a big girl kindergartener?” she asks, handing me my Barbie lunchbox. Barbie smiles up at me self-confidently with shooting stars in the background. I wanna be like her.

“Uh-huh,” I respond, managing an award-winning-aw-she’s-so-cute smile. Mommy grins and squeezes me in a quick hug.

We reach the Unknown World’s entrance and I suddenly feel really scared of everything. Mommies, kids, the building.

Leaving Mommy.

I realize that I don’t want to leave Mommy, but I want to be a big girl not a baby. I turn to her. Oh, no.

“Mommy?” My voice cracks and my eyes begin to moisten. I clutch her hand in desperation.

“It’s OK, sweetheart. I love you so much.” She pulls me into her and wraps her arms around me. My cheek presses against the soft fabric of her sweater and inhale her gentle scent of lavender and perfume. I fight back the tears and remain calm. She pulls away and kisses the top of my head.

“Good luck,” she whispers.

“I love you, Mommy”

And I turn around to run up to my classmates as we line up to go to school. Here I go.



Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback