The following piece is published as part of our TLM Young Writers series, a dedicated section of The London Magazine‘s website which showcases the work of exceptional young talent aged between 13-21, from the UK and beyond.
At the beginning, you could have left the addiction behind. But you allowed it to escalate until it controlled you. When you saw the police outside of your house, you knew immediately what had happened. In the hot weather, you ran furiously, fighting against the August sun.
Should you go into the house, or leave it to collapse on the people inside? You created the crack in the foundation. Should you walk out of your home, like a leaf leaving a tree because of the cold weather, or should you seek forgiveness? You caused the cold weather. You don’t do anything.
The forest smells dry, with a scent of pine and dust. You stand still, admiring the view. In front of you spans an entire continent to explore: deserts, marshes, and plains. You finally ran from your past life; you finally feel free. Yet you ache because you left them behind. Why did you leave them behind? Because you couldn’t face it. You walk further, wandering into the deserted forest, but you still hear the shrieks of suffering and abandonment.
At sunset you lie in a bed of pine needles, huddling against the cold mountain. From the lichen covered rocks you feel tremors of conflict across the earth. The next day you catch a ride in an old farm truck. You notice the farmer looking at the inside of your elbows and you wish you had a long-sleeved shirt. The ride seems interminable, and you get out at the next town.
You keep walking. You spend the last of your cash on a bus ride across the desert. You return to walking, accepting the gift of food from an overworked migrant labourer. You are exhausted, but you run because you hear the cries of your family in your ears and heart.
You reach the ocean, but you can’t hear its roaring over their sobbing. You get in a boat; you row far out; you are almost drowned in a tempest. But you still hear them. You thought your absence would help them. You guess you were wrong.
What if that is the moment you die? The moment you realise that all you had done is cause pain. You could have fixed your mistakes, and shown them your love. You could have walked back and saved them from what you made.
But you left them alone; you left them to die because you feared rejection. And you were the first one to die.
What happened to those you left behind?
Kandin Theis is 17 years old and is fascinated by the art of writing. He is from Fort Collins, Colorado.
To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.