A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY LUCY McMAHON
The boy in the handmade straw hat is sitting in the middle of the carrot field but he does not look happy. Instead, his face is one of boredom. I pity him. I know that, though his fingers clutch a miniature water can especially purchased for him at the nearest Home Depot, he does not care one bit for carrots. He thinks they are better off as the midafternoon snack of the rabbits that live under his house. “Pests”, his parents call them. They do not care for the rabbits.
The sky is painted with the colors of the early summer grain. The boy doesn’t mind grain. He loves sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, and grain is in the bread in the sandwiches, meaning that grain must be good. Carrots, however, can only be found in salads. The boy hates salads. He also hates ranch dressing, but his sister loves it. She always tells him that he’ll like it someday, but he knows he never will.
“Crisscross apple sauce”, is what the teacher called the sitting position he is in right now. Back to the house. Face to the sun. He doesn’t want to go inside for dinner. He wants to follow the sun. Of course, he knows that he can’t really follow the sun. It’s in space. He just wants to leave the carrot field.
Where would he go if he left the carrot field? That question hasn’t occurred to him yet. He once saw a flimsy book in the checkout line at the grocery store with a picture of a big gray building on the cover. His sister told him it was a skyscraper, and that he could only find them in New York City. Maybe, thinks the boy, he would like to go to New York City someday. Just so he can see buildings that touch the sky.
His family isn’t good with traveling. They take road trips sometimes, but there’s never anything to see. Road trip to McDonald’s. Road trip to the big supermarket by the cattle field. Road trip to Grandma’s house, with the big, slobbering dogs and the persistent old person smell. His mother always said that he could find everything he needed, right where he lived. Fields for harvest, pastures for meat, corner store for medicine, church for God. Oh, and school. What exactly was school for again? That was something his mother said a lot. She wants him to learn carpentry like his father so he can build his own barn, but apparently both his teachers and the government didn’t. “Fuckin’ Obama,” she would say. She was going to homeschool him next year, for his “real education”. The boy couldn’t wait.
His sister fights with his mother sometimes, when she comes home from her school in the city. She’s studying literature at the public college in the city, over an hour’s ride away. When they fight, the boy goes up to his room and locks the door, throws himself on the bed and ducks beneath a pillow. Someone usually comes for him after about an hour. Last time it was his sister.
His mother’s voice is present now, floating, ever-present. She’s telling him to come inside for dinner. She wants to know if he’s finished watering the carrots yet. He doesn’t know how to answer, so he just waits until she goes back inside. He can’t explain it, but as he looks back at the sun again he has the strongest urge of smallness, as though the very act of seeing the setting sun has reminded him of all the other people watching the sun. Watching it rise and turn and arch through the sky. Did God control the sun?
Back inside went the boy, leaving his watering can to crush the leafy top of one of the buried carrots. That carrot will never grow again.
Lucy McMahon is a sixteen year old American living in Brussels, Belgium where she attends the International School of Brussels. She is a writer, even when she’s not writing, and she writes to create the stuff she wants to read that doesn’t yet exist.