Millbrook, New York
You came in the fall to run away and stayed for the impossibility of it all, for trees like cat toys and huge cinderblocks of houses leaning into loose soil. The stale valley air you pulled into your lungs turned your thoughts fuzzy like the movies you used to watch as a kid. You were never a romantic, but even you couldn’t protest the sunsets down in Malibu, and slowly the colors began to wear down your shell. You didn’t have anywhere near enough money to pretend to be famous at fancy hotels, so you did so in secret, wasting gas up through Bel-Air as if the mansions were yours. You even enjoyed some sun, letting the devil paint your skin pink with his fingers as you tried not to think about your mother.
You welcomed the colder nights as they slunk in from the ocean like a navy blue Ferrari. Back home, winters had always been a kind of punishment, a recompense for taking summers for granted. To you it was almost religious, how it was always impossible to appreciate something enough. The people here never felt that way, it seemed. God to them was whatever caught their eye, whatever the neon signs told them. For the first time, you started to imagine hearing your name on the lips of someone very important.
You clutched at winter long into April like a fistful of sand. You found that your energy evaporated in the sun, so you slept while people hung themselves from their lofty ideals and overdosed on hope. You preferred slower highs, so you only left the house at night, when the big white letters on the hill turned to alphabet soup. Most craned their necks at the billboards along Wilshire until they wrecked their Mercedes and their reputations, but it was dark and you were jaded, and you saw Jenny’s face on every movie star anyway.
You didn’t want to admit it, but you knew summer was coming from the cracks that started forming in the parched earth. The ground itself groaned and shivered every now and then, as if suffering from some great unspoken pain. Everyone started driving faster; you didn’t know if it was the thirst or the paranoia, but people could no longer stay in one place for too long. The dog you were looking after, lonely and insane, ripped staples out of the carpet until its gums bled. Somewhere, someone came up with a new name for God. And finally, matter-of-factly, PCH split open like a wound, the Hollywood sign lurched down its hill, and you packed your bags.
This piece was published last year in Daisy’s school's exclusively student work magazine, Albany Road.
Wow, this piece is everything I love. Sensory details, a feeling of softness and sentimentality, a snapshot of what seems like such a real life.
Daisy Dundas is a member of the class of 2021 at Deerfield Academy. She balances most of her time at school between studying and rowing, but creative writing has always owned her heart.
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