In the middle of the night, darkness swirls
Like a sandstorm around the edges of my body.
I hold my phone in my hand and the glow
Seems almost radioactive. It’s the witching hour
And every cell inside of me is buzzing.
I am sitting on the edge of the bed, hands on my knees
Afraid of the moment the hour passes into the next day.
I will finally turn into an adult. I will finally turn 18.
I expect trumpets, fanfare, the roaring of a lion
But only receive the quiet change of a number.
In the morning, birds sing prettily in the trees
Which have only just started to sprout their leaves.
The sun peeks over the ridge as if to say hello.
I turn over to my side and begin to cry.
My wisdom stands in my head like a mountain
And I collect memories like shells in the sand
But yet, all these fragments do not make a picture
And I still feel painfully incomplete.
Slowly, and then all at once, my abilities have expanded.
I can vote, I can have a credit card, I can get married.
I can join the military, I can go into debt, I can get a job.
I can take a knife to the smiling lies of the pretenders
Who will tell me they know my best interests
Solely because they have the distinction of being adults.
I am an adult too, now. I know what it means.
I know adults lie and steal and cheat and hit and kill
And have demons inside of them that make children shudder.
I know adults claim their own superiority out of fear.
They don’t want to face the sad truth of their inability.
But each ability comes with a million new fears,
Sprouting like weeds, they grow so aggressively
And plant themselves so deep I can’t unseat them.
I become afraid of the climate crisis inducing a wildfire
Which sweeps me to heaven in a chariot of flames.
I become afraid of the drunken men in the night
Whose eyes could follow me like the sights of a sniper.
I become afraid of those holding public office
Trying their hardest to legislate away my rights.
I become cold in the face of the cruelty of the world
In my bones, I wonder if it is worth living at all.
As much as the thought makes me shake and quiver,
I know I must reach out and take the hand of destiny.
The golden gates of childhood are fading from sight
All I can see now is my feet in the sand of adulthood.
But though I have no power to stop the winds carrying me,
My hands can influence the direction I take.
As one final wish from my childhood, I am determined
That I will land in green fields and I will grow like a precious rose.
I will not be a fallen leaf that drifts into muddy banks.
And though fears pound at my heart and call my name,
I will keep walking still, ready to see how my life unfolds.
Erin Mullens is an American writer who currently lives in Seoul, South Korea. Her hobbies include reading, going to art museums, and hiking in the woods. She has previously been published in Cathartic Youth Literary magazine. You can follow her on Instagram at @moonchildisuhgood.