Youth
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Mind"
Originally featured on 03-17-2010
As part of our series "The Things We Change When We Want To Make That Big Change"

I look in the mirror. I will feel better when my face is older, because something about the youth feels so slow. My face tells me that I have a long way to go. A lot of time and a lot of fight. And when I am old, it will look like I’m mostly spent, and I think there will be something cozy about that. An easy denouement.

To sit in a chair all day, is to do a beautiful thing. My body will be made of sourness and age spots. I will stop walking, by choice or otherwise, when I turn 75.

This isn’t another sadly dark aging story. No romanticized self destruction here, but a manifesto, simply being what I need it to be: a message stating that some old souls are stuck. Stuck in the bodies of twenty-somethings (used to be teens and children). The actual saddest part of the story is that of the tiny, old children, because you can see it more.

The kind who will sit in fields instead of run. They put themselves to bed at age seven. They slowly draw their visions of greek architecture on construction paper in red crayon. Trying to make their fine motor skills adapt to the things in their heads.

I found such a drawing in the street today. It was like a message, a hello, I’m here, a tiny man in a ten-year-old’s body. He’s seen things before, in whatever life, but doesn’t have the words to say, just knows. And I wish better things for him. That somebody could tell him that he can get out one day, or at least that other people will catch up, and that visceral ache that he was born with, will become more universal. What a thing to feel that of the old. Sometimes if you put one hand on a baby’s fontanel, and the other behind its back, and you hold it with respect, you can tell how old the soul is. You’ll feel it though, I want you to know that. It will settle in your bones and you will know too.

Read More By Alice Clark

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Portland Fiction Project

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