A Faded Playground
Alexx Wren, Grade 11
Every step she takes has needles stabbing into her feet. Blood oozes from the fresh wounds and seeps into the ground, turning the grass red.
The fields sway in the smoke-tainted breeze. Grass reaches up to the stars, as if wishing to float up and out into the universe.
She tries to walk, and lightning shafts shoot up her foot when it touches the ground. Pain spikes up her ankle so stunningly that she cries out, the wail like a dying songbird travelling across the lonely fields.
She is already battered and bruised, pain twisting in her nerves with every slight movement, but she's still standing-
A crack shatters the sparkling sky. Something hurts so much more than everything already does.
Her veins are filled with a heavy substance, beating into her hollow heart. She tilts, and sways like the grass, then-
The grass waves above her and all around her, floating in the air. Her backpack had softened her blow with the ground, crushed under her frail, vulnerable body. She breathes.
If it isn't for the loose carpet the grass provides, there would be a visible trail of crimson footprints leading from the faded playground.
Her playground. The only place she knew what free smiles and joyful chatter was like, when she was still small and skipped stones with her best friends across the still lake where the ducks used to swim with their innocent ducklings.
Outside was a miracle. Home was a living nightmare, filled with fire and smoke and furious bullets.
It hollowed her out, limb by limb. Until she could no longer stay.
The stars swirl above her head, so far away. She's jealous; she yearns to be able to put their distance between her home.
Now that she's stopped walking away, she can almost trick herself into thinking she can hear the playground.
Old laughter. Ancient smiles. Extinct freedom.
Something warm and dense trickles under her fingers. Pain throbs and throbs.
Somewhere in the distance, there are police sirens and more cracks that shake the fields. There are calling, frantic voices. Maybe they're coming for her.
The stars giggle as the pain fades.