Hunger | Teen Ink


April 23, 2022
By mossywall GOLD, Newton, Massachusetts
mossywall GOLD, Newton, Massachusetts
12 articles 11 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You can make anything by writing." C.S. Lewis

When I was nine, I met Death and Ambition. I had been playing in the garden, scraping sticks against the dirt, and piling stones to create mountains, when I saw a bush glittering in the shadows of the trees. It was on the forbidden side of the garden, but I was young and curious, and I liked to break rules. I tripped over to it on wiry legs, long stalks catching at my ankles until I landed next to it. Its long green leaves trembled, berries the size of my fists tugging the stems to the earth. I reached out, hungry after my play, and pulled one off its thread. The dark cobalt red was a sun to my innocent eyes as I crushed it past my pasty lips, swallowing the juice and smooth skin. It tasted like sweet lemons and sour lilacs, like gold and silver dreams turned to fruit. I ripped more and more berries off the bush, staining my fingers crimson as I stuffed them down my throat. Each time I swallowed, I wanted more.

Soon the bush was empty, its leaves fanning out around empty air. I was still hungry, though. So when I saw another bush, laden with berries, lingering just a little further in the trees, I raced to it. And when I finished its contents, I rushed further in to catch more fruit. The acidic sweetness left my tongue burning, and filled my nose with the smell of nightshade and honeysuckle. I walked further in. I didn’t notice the crowding trees or the distance of safety. I didn’t notice the forest towering up around me. I wanted more, and that was all I saw.

Mud stained my toes, and flowers landed in my hair, filling the wind with the heady smell of summer heat. Brambles tore my dress and leaves caught in the fabric, trembling as they struggled in the thick strands.

I don’t know how long I walked, just that when I finally stopped, it was in a clearing of silver grass, with a golden moon weeping light down into it. This time, there wasn’t another bush. There were two women. One with golden hair and crimson eyes and a dress made of bleeding silk. Another with a black braid and a rough cloth tied over her eyelids. The one with a black braid smiled.

“I knew she would come.”

“I do not like this, Death,” warned the crimson eyed one. “Human children have no place in the forest.”

“This one is an exception.”

“Exceptions can be dangerous.”

“Exceptions can change everything,” replied Death. She walked closer to me, and the grass shifted around her, as if unwilling to touch her bare feet. “And so will she, Ambition.” She crouched next to me, and tilted her head, as if she could see through the cloth to my stained lips and hungry eyes. I looked around for another bush. I wanted more. She smiled, and I saw her teeth were white as bone.

“I don’t think more berries will sate your appetite, my dear,” she crooned. “But I think I know something that will.”

“This is a bad idea,” the golden woman, Ambition, said quietly. “You underestimate the potency of my plants.” The one in front of me didn’t answer her companion, but instead, leaned closer, and I noticed purple flowers running through her hair like veins. Tiny black buds curled around her forehead, fringed with pale white frost.

“How would you like the world?” she asked. “The whole world. Its mountains and its stars. Its rivers and grasses. Its trees and stones. Its thrones and its armies. That will fill the hunger, won’t it?”

“It won’t,” whispered Ambition. “She will always want more, Death. She will want our thrones, too.” Death ignored her.

“The world,” she promised.

I wanted it.

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