In my eighteen years of life, I’ve learned that most of it is about getting in. Everybody wants to be on the inside. In high school it’s about popularity, and who gets to hold hands and other things with the cutest jock or doe eyed knock-off ten-seconds-to-knocked-up-barbie. I got out of there without getting a disease or a child.
College is all about getting in. Whether it’s Ivy League or someone’s pants. I shot for the former and landed in a respectable school that wasn’t necessarily Ivy League, but there were a lot of ivy covered buildings, so I figured that had to count for something. I was there to find something elusive and highly regarded. Something you didn’t find in anyone’s pants. They called it a future. And somehow they told me I’d find it in rooms full of kids making decisions bigger than eighteen years on Earth. Heavy decisions, ones that sounded like things grown ups would do. They told us we were grown ups. They lied.
I was not grown the nights I spilled my guts to a girl with eyes that changed color like dusk and realized I was never going to be one for jocks or barbies. She was trimmed in ink lines and her voice was like waves on waves on waves, full of lulling clarity. She hummed notes of songs I knew when I was little, and they sounded like promises falling from her perfect smile. I’d never wanted harmonies, but I wanted them with her. Her lips tasted like sugar and rain and we twined together for five weeks before her eyes turned dark.
She pressed a key into my palm and whispered my name, “Shy.”
“Yes?” My lips were at her ear, and she shivered in the dark.
“What do you want?”
“I want the future,” I told her.
“Sure,” she said, “then you’ll have it.”
She raised the key to her lips and pressed it to them. It glowed for a moment, all embers.
She curled my fingers around it and she was gone in an instant, fast as a summer storm. My skin burned where her eyes had held it, but I still held that key hot and heavy in my hand.
It works on every single lock.
Stay tuned for extra content this week from Julie. Check out Anne’s answer to this prompt next Monday.