The "Adult" Fear This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Once upon a time, there was a nice little town. It was a happy town, with a good school, library, and government. All of the citizens were happy because their taxes were bearable and their real estate value kept skyrocketing. All of the people in the town were well off, at least compared to the less fortunate who didn't live there.

In the center of the town was an apple tree. It was the town mystery. It read "Proposition 2-1/2 apples, Do Not Touch." The townfolk were naturally curious, but prosperity was too good to risk. That was then. A few years into the century XYZ, a somewhat harder time came on the town. A nasty bogeyman was terrorizing the area, shouting "Prop 2 1/2," and skulking in the shadows. Finally, one evening, the bogeyman lit an enormous blinking neon sign saying, "Try Prop 2 1/2 fruit." The town folk were mesmerized by the seductive red glare, and mindlessly turned out in droves to seek the fruit of the tree. No one could resist. First a lady, then a man, then everyone partook of the forbidden fruit.

The bogeyman descended upon the town and gripped it with darkness. First, he took 53% of the money out of the library bank. Buckling under the green drought, the library halved its hours and discontinued its subscriptions. Next, the bogeyman drove the younger teachers out of town, and stole the salary of those remaining. He eliminated classes, increased class size, and canceled presentations. He laughed at all extra-curricular activities and squandered their money. School equipment fell into disrepair. Educators looked all around for the bogeyman, but he was nowhere to be found. All he left behind him was the echo of his mocking laughter.

"It's my neighbor!" cried a thousand voices in concert. Fingers were pointed at everyone except the bogeyman in a vain attempt to solve the problem. But he was far too lucky to be caught. He continued his destruction, taking out policemen, public works workers, and cutting pay. He stole more and more money.

Over time, the town was transformed. The library, once the pride of the area, was now the humble owner of three books (one of which was supposedly lost), and open from 3: 00 p.m. to 3: 15 p.m. each leap year on February 29. The school, on its last legs, was held outside, next to the proposition two and a half tree, with one teacher and two text books (which were never opened, but prayed to). The new generation was growing up illiterate. Meanwhile, the volunteer police force was doing well. There was no money left in the town to rob and no one could afford a gun to murder. Indeed, suicide had become the prevalent crime. The government of the town was in the worst shape of all. Each member lay about the tree, chained to its trunk, there to rot for eternity, their carcasses supplying the tree with its nourishment.

The tree, on the other hand, had prospered. It had grown and grown until the whole town was eclipsed by its shadow. The sun no longer rose or set, it merely varied the intensity of the shadow.

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Who is the bogeyman? He is everyone,everyone who voted for Proposition 2 1/2,,everyone who voted to strike down education and town services, with the same hands that signed the ballot, reached up and took a chokehold on their own necks. When did "tax" become a four letter word? Why can't the "grown-ups" grow up and stop using important services such as education for leverage in the government versus the people anti-tax tug-of-war?n


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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