Although teenagers are generally unhappy, it is adults which we are primarily called upon to handle. The dreams of teenagers are uncomplicated as they do not realize how simple their yearnings actually are. Unlike adults, which are defeatists rather than idealists, teenagers tend to share more in common, making them easier enigmas than they believe. Furthermore, teenagers lead more connected lives with each other than adults, therefore they are easier to learn about. Never before have I been tasked with investigating the nightmare of a teenager…yet, the subject of consideration that evening was none other than this teenage girl dropping by her locker. That's how I knew she was more than just her appearance, that this case would be more than just what meets the eye.
They say the best times in a human's life are when they are young, but in the case of this subject, the opposite held true. The survivor of a tragic adolescence, she was always found chasing disaster. Perhaps it was never clear to her how it was really her who had saved herself all along, or perhaps it was because she felt it necessary to maintain her adrenaline to keep herself alive. Despite this, she made the right choices…as one must be able to do if they are to stay alive in difficult times. It is said that the good die young and the notorious live long. Only a teen at the time, now she was a full-grown adult…but nobody could tell until she told them this herself.
Only in her nightmares was she thirteen again. Peering down at her ripped jeans, she could tell that she had awakened within yet another nightmare. School was back in session. Wondering whether she could pass the time with her friends until the ordeal was over, she heads to class earlier than usual. She reasons that there, things should stay okay, for who would dare take a drag just to be bad with the teacher there to see? To the chagrin of those who have seen her with her friends, she has never smoked nor done drugs. Nonchalant as always, she goes to retrieve her belongings from her locker. All this time she has seen no one else, yet she carries on as usual. As she shuts her locker, she suffers a sudden yearning for someone else's company. Perhaps it is the ominous echo in the hallway, or perhaps it is what she sees as she closes the locker door--an old photograph of her together with that boy. Anything can happen in a dream, right?
Stoicism as a philosophy is best learned as an adult. However it was taught to him young, when no one cared about his feelings. And, as no one cared, why should he? Unable to resist taking another drag inside the hallway, the teenage boy reflects deeply upon how he turned out. Though warned to never judge another based on their appearance, upon piercing his nose, even his parents began to steer clear. As soon as the deed was done he regret it, and yet, it was enough. Coming to find his girlfriend admiring the photo of the two of them in front of her locker, he charges boldly on, eager to talk with someone who will listen. On his way over he turns the corner too quickly and comes into contact with the wet paint. At that moment all he can see is red.
She knew him since elementary school. The photo of them together takes her back to their childhood, back to when a relationship was okay between two friends, regardless of what others might have said about them. Though a rebel, he had been her protector after her father's life had been taken on the street, when she felt she had no one to keep her safe. Never before had she realized how fast and dangerous the world could be, but he taught her how to keep pace so it wouldn't catch her. In return, she helped him out of his hard times at home by lending him her ear. As time flew by, he grew up to be dangerous, but by then she had learned to survive.
Upon hearing his footsteps, she turns. Relieved upon realizing it is just her boyfriend, she yields and smiles. Another one of her nightmares, she knows what comes next. He waves at her and in reply she holds up her hand, urging him to halt. Although she knows he will tell her himself, she inquires as to why he appears the way he does. He smirks and holds up both hands, which he forgets are covered in red paint.
Just how a racecar needs a new paint job, I needed a change in appearance for high school. You look pretty as always, though. Don’t change!
Suppressing a smile, the teenage girl must compose herself before daring to look her boyfriend in the eye.
But you're the one who keeps telling me it's not about what's on the outside!
Defeated, he bows his head as though a bull about to charge…but then thinks better of it. Following an exasperated sigh he swaggers over, wiping his red stains off onto his black jeans. Before he can approach close enough to rub off on her, she remarks on how they have grown apart. Expressing her genuine feelings about their relationship, she explains how unfair it is of him to expect her to remain the same when he has changed as much as he has. Besides his sudden change in appearance she mentions how she no longer feels safe or protected, as his recent reputation has endangered them both in the past. Upon hearing her concerns he tries approaching her once more, however her nervous flinch changes his mind and causes him to bow his head once more.
In his mind he realized he has made the wrong decision. No one had ever cared to get to know who he truly was except her, so how was this teenage boy to know? All this time he hadn't actually changed who he was inside…it was just how he appeared to her now. After all they had been through together, how was danger an issue if he was always able to protect her? Amidst his confusion, he apologizes. Then he swears he will change once more, but into somebody better this time. But by then she has stopped listening…she had always listened to whatever he had to say before. As he realizes this is not who she is anymore, head bowed, he charges.
Over the years she had grown used to running away. But never from her protector. Fortunate for her there was nobody else to run into besides me. Built more for fight than flight, her betrayed boyfriend had given up the chase and by the time she had vaulted down the stairwell and lapsed the third corner, they were sure to never see each other again.
Although she'd be reluctant to encounter him again, now was the time to intervene. I would have to leave this teenage girl's trust to chance. Upon her turning the sixth corner, we run into each other. Offering her a tacit apology for not getting involved earlier, I cut to the chase: Today was long ago and he has hurt you to this very day. While no one can change the past you can still do what is right. You must forgive and leave him to the past, something your younger self struggled with all those years as she couldn't bring herself to do it then. To do this you must offer his spirit sympathy…only then will this nightmare leave you alone.
Upon taking my leave, she grabs onto my arm. She asks if we could be friends, but I know she means something else. Just as with other subjects I have aided in the past, she is fearful and only desires my security. Only when humans feel secure do they dare to care for anybody else in return…but as in the case of this teenage girl and her nightmare, humans never grow out of feeling insecure. Before I leave, I remind her that if she is to make amends with her younger self, she must face this bully on her own.
They meet up for the final time in front of her locker. He had resorted to waiting for her there ever since. Tentative, she steps forth. Nobody knows who they will grow up to become, and while we have grown up together, we must break apart! I understand why you changed yourself and wanted to grow up faster--because you were uncomfortable with who you were…But, I feel the same! Before, when you asked me to never change, I felt as though you were asking for the rest of my life…but we're only thirteen! Please, understand! As she finishes her plea, she bows her head, anxious for his response. Unsure, he merely extends his hand. By this time he has done his best to wipe it clean. As she reluctantly takes it and bids him farewell, she feels her younger self forgive her. The nightmare never visits again.
No one can stay thirteen forever. At last, the teenage girl can move on from her past. Upon her awakening, I bring the teenage boy back to my world, for if I had not, he would have dissipated at dawn without further contemplation. Since then, he is the nightmare we confide in regarding any curiosity we have about how it is to be human. To date, his classification: Taurus.