How to grow up. The large bolded title on the top of the page was all Lily could come up with. She sat at her table, the light from the window draping her laptop in oranges and yellows as the sun began to set. Why had she agreed to this? It had seemed simple at the time, writing about her own experiences, about the lack of help she had had when she was growing up herself. But she absolutely detested teenagers, refused to talk to them, for they were beneath her in every way. Now she had to pretend that she cared.
Perhaps she could start with her childhood and how it nurtured her, with its carelessness and ignorant bliss. She could recall star-gazing with her parents when she was young, trying to find the brightest star in the sky. She remembered her mother saying that that star would be the one to watch over her once she had passed away. Her whole childhood seemed like such a blur now, so many worlds away. How could she talk about childhood with such nostalgia after it had left her in such a flash? Why would it be any good for her to dredge up the pitiful positivity that had permeated her home before her father had passed away?
Perhaps it might be better for her to start with the pain which was her adolescence. Time seemed endless; the days never seemed to end. She remembered the feeling of being trapped in that awkward ledge between childhood and adulthood with no one to guide her. She did not know what she would find beyond that ledge because her mother was as good as gone, sitting on her recliner chair with that empty look on her face. So Lily had to grow up alone and mourn for her mother alone.
Inside her room, it was bright with her laptop and writing lamp on, her face reflecting off the windowpane, the darkness of the night was behind her image. There she saw the same empty look that had occupied her mother’s face in her very last years on herself. She switched off the lights and took a deep breath. It was then that she saw that star. The one that outshone all of its brothers and sisters, the one that her mother said would watch Lily on her behalf.
Her hardened exterior crumbled to leave the vulnerable young girl that still had so much growing up ahead of her. She had been the empty canvas that she had watched her mother morph into as she died, but Lily had never really given herself the chance to be anything else. There had to be more to life than this perpetual grief. This was when she realised it was time to move on into adulthood.
It was at that moment Lily finally realised what she could write about. She could paint them a picture of herself all those years ago as she sat by that metaphorical windowsill, wondering what lay ahead of her. As the sun set, as Time stopped for her, and only her, she realised she had finally left the old window behind. She would let them know that they did not need to be like her, stuck at her window, paralysed with fear of what lay ahead. With her newfound realisation that she just needed to move on from the pain, she could now help the young girls cross that border without hesitation as that particular journey was part of life, that they would need to accept their past to grow and move forward.
Lily smiled to herself. She highlighted that large bolded title on the top of the page and with a few swift taps, she changed it to: “The young girl at the window. Speaking from experience.”