Ambiguity | Teen Ink


May 9, 2018
By Milo_J_Henry BRONZE, Greenville, South Carolina
Milo_J_Henry BRONZE, Greenville, South Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

I woke up with my heart hammering against my chest. I didn’t have a nightmare, but some would say that I woke up in one. The room was filled with white moonlight. It fell like snow over the dark oak vanity and on the worn wooden desk near the window. It touched every inch of the faded maple floors and caressed the bare faces of the pale walls. It even drenched the ivory quilt I was blanketed in and every single inch of my body- hair, clothes, skin. And I was so drenched in it that when I looked in the mirror, I could’ve sworn I saw some angel or spirit. It filled every single part of my room but one. My wedding dress hung across the room over my closet. Moonlight couldn’t reach the gown since it was too far from the window, so it hung there, a white ghost staring in the darkness. Pity, it would’ve looked lovely in the moonlight.

I looked at the bloody numbers of the digital clock beside my bed. 3:05 A.M. In seven hours and fifty five minutes I was to be married at Mercy Hill Baptist Church to Mr. Simon Martin Johnson. He was twelve years my senior and the richest man within three counties. And he was someone that I had absolutely nothing in common with. I didn’t hate him. No, in fact, I admired him for his kind nature and good work ethic. But I didn’t love him.

At that thought, I felt my throat tighten and my eyes water. I had just turned eighteen. I was only eighteen.
“God help me,” I choked out. I looked out the window and saw the moon and stars floating against the navy sky. They seemed to be watching me, waiting for me to do something. I decided to not keep them waiting.
I slipped out from under the quilted sheets and put on my flip flops. I plucked my phone out from its charger; the white cord hanging like a dead snake. Gliding over to my closet I snatched my favorite hoodie from the rack. Looks like I was going for a late night walk.

I padded towards the door and turned the knob gently. I peeked out into the hallway to make sure Grandma wasn’t coming up the stairs. She had the tendency to get up and get water in the middle of the night. My worries were washed away when I heard her heavy snores echo from down the hall. Grandpa catching me didn’t concern me either. He was over at Mr. Johnson’s for an overnight bachelor party (it was probably something tame like drinking beer and watching movies from the fifties).

The wood groaned in protest as I stepped across the hallway and creeped down the stairs. Thank God Grandma could sleep through anything. It’d be awkward to explain why I was walking around in the middle of the night.
The front door was spilling over with ivory light. I stared at it and took a deep breath. Once I started this walk, I knew my life would change forever. I opened the door and stepped into the night air.

The road was wide before me, and the sky was crystal clear. Every sloping piece of farm land was painted silver and dark blue.

With every step I took on the worn road, my heart beat louder. Both my nerves and my excitement danced a sloppy jig in my blood. As I looked up at the canopy of stars, I remembered when I moved to this town.

“It’s not much, but it’s a nice sight,” my Grandma said as we drove along the snakelike road. The glossy pastures and the pale sky were jarring to my eyes. When squinting wasn’t enough to block the stinging light, I decided to stare at the back of my Grandpa’s fuzzy grey seat. I had been here during holidays when snow frosted the fields, or when the air was laced with the scents of fall. But as a seventeen year old orphan, the whole place seemed so foreign to me in the summer.

        My graduation cap and gown were folded neatly in the seat beside me. The cheerful folder of my diploma was nested on the blue mass. I couldn’t help think that Mama should’ve been there.

“Why don’t we go down to the creek later, sweetie? We can wade or go fishing if you want to. Don’t worry about the game warden, it’s on our land anyway. What do you say?” my Grandpa piped after spotting my tears.
“Okay,” I whispered.

The distant cry of a coyote filled my ears, yet I wasn’t afraid of it finding me. Its cry sounded so lonely over the hills and fields. Maybe if it were to happen upon me walking, it would join me and we could sort out our problems together.

It never came.

        “Why are you wearing that?” the woman asked as she gestured to my clothing. I was wearing ripped jeans and a shirt with an anime character on it. To top it all off I was snuggled in a cameo jacket.

        “I’m sorry ma’am, are you talking-”

        “You need to dress like a lady. Girls don’t need to wear clothes with rips in them. And camouflage should be worn for hunting, or if you’re in the army. They’re not for girls. And that young man should be wearing something less girly,” she said as she pointed to my friend, Bradley, who was looking at a set of bracelets. He always dressed slightly effeminate since he was about thirteen.  “Y’all ought to go home and change. I thought Wynonna and Orville would teach their granddaughter  how dress better. I guess that’s what happens when you start selling out.”

        “Look here, lady! Her Grandparents are the nicest-”

        “Crys, don’t worry about it, come on,” I interjected, grabbing Crystal’s arm. This girl would defend me and my family to the moon and back. And she’d do it with a vengeance. Bradley followed along, the eyes of the patrons following our backs. It was supposed to be a fun visit for them. I hadn’t seen them in months and I finally mustered up the courage to wear what I wanted.

I had been following the town’s unspoken dress code for a few months: unripped jeans or a skirt and a plain shirt. This town didn’t like fashion that was unique. I thought since my friends were there and the Fall Festival was underway, no one would care. Looks like my attempt at courage was in vain.

        Will Mr. Johnson let me wear what I want? I thought to myself. I spotted the Big Dipper hanging low over the cow pasture. The cows stood there as sleepy statues under the illuminated sky. I laughed a little when one was nugged awake by a hyper calf. Then a thought popped in my head that made my stomach drop. I’d have to have kids soon, wouldn’t I?

“I’m sorry sweetie...but we can’t send you to college,” the winter rain fell cold and soft on the window pane. I could feel my body wither as I stared at my Grandparents.

        “What….why?” I asked. My mouth felt dry as the question came out.

        “We didn’t make a lot of money after harvest, and we sold as much land as we could, but it just wasn’t enough. We’re so sorry honey.”

        “But, I can, I can get more scholarships, more loans! Maybe if I call financial aid they’ll be able to make an exception,” the desperation was rising in my voice.

        “We called the school. They said they can’t give you anymore aid. You’ve exceeded their scholarship limit, and their loan limit too,” my Grandpa said. His face was grim and his eyes screamed ‘I’m sorry.’

“What about out of state? That university out of state offered a full ride. They even said I could apply during the summer and get in! Maybe I could-”

“You’re not going anywhere, young lady!” my Grandma cried suddenly. I was startled from what I thought was anger. But when I looked at her face, I could see the tears streaming down her eyes.  Dad leaving still hurt her bad, and Mama dying made it even worse. I had to stay with them. I couldn’t leave. Could I?

That question still lingered in my mind. If I were to leave them how would they react? After Dad left, Mama and I were the only family my Grandparents had. They loved her, even though she was of a different race. They treated her more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law. And of course they showered me with every bit of love that Grandparents should have for their grandchildren. Could I really be my parents’ daughter and leave the ones that I loved?

I trekked up the sloping hill, my breath labored. The road was full of cracks and large pot holes. I stepped in one filled with packed dirt and jagged pebbles and slipped. My hands instinctively went forward and landed raw on the black expanse.


“Pleasure to meet you,” Mr. Simon Johnson said in a polite voice. He extended his large hands in greeting. I shook it and smiled with the same courtesy. In my other hand was a bouquet of two dozen blood red roses. So this is the man I’m supposed to marry. I thought to myself. He was the grandson of an old friend of my Grandparents. They decided to make this deal after their friend promised to repay them back for their kindness.
Mr. Johnson started his own industry after graduating college and was doing very well for himself. He was handsome, but not someone that I felt attracted to.

At first, I was against the whole idea.  Everything about it seemed wrong. It was wrong in a sense that I would be marrying this man for the security of my own future and financial gain. Also, I didn’t love him like a wife would a husband. But then I realized something. I had to do this. This was the only clear path that I could see- a secure future. Of course I would try to love and take care of him, and marrying him would relieve my Grandparents’ concerns about my future. Still, everything about it seemed so strained and unnatural. But doing it for them seemed like a noble enough cause.

“My, don’t you two look like a beautiful couple,” Grandma cooed.

Yes. I thought to myself. Beautiful indeed.

I didn’t have a scratch from the fall, except for my hands. Only a dirt stain on my left knee remained from the fall. I had finally made it to the top of the hill. The sky was fading into a creamy blue. Dawn had finally arrived and I would have to get back before Grandma woke up. However, I got feeling so obstinate that kept me anchored to the hill.

“So, you’re actually gonna go through with it?” Bradley’s voice asked sullenly over the phone.

“I’ve got to, Brad. I’ve got no other choice,” I was walking under my Grandmother’s favorite cherry tree. Its petals fell around me in a blushing flurry. Spring had come once again and it served as a bitter reminder that my wedding would be in a few months.

“You can always stay with Crystal and me. The apartment’s big enough for three,” he was talking about their apartment out of state. They took a year off, like I was planning to, and decided to go out of state for school. Crystal would be studying art, Bradley music. I was supposed to write.

“Well, what if you get a boyfriend? Then it’d be too crowded,” I said trying to make the conversation lighter. Bradley was gay and I loved him to bits.

“Then I’d have to kick you out,” Bradley laughed.

Beyond the hill, a forest started to creep up. The mass of trees rolled and breathed until they reached the lip of the blue mountains. Rich light was streaming over the distant peaks and coloring the sky gold. I breathed in the Summer air and let my eyes wander over the landscape. Out of my lips, soft and tumbling, came out a prayer. I found that in times of pain, God has unexpected ways of answering. Somewhere in the sunlight, I would find the answer.

Between the hill and the forest stood a lone maple tree. I could make out the shapes of two black birds, one large the other small, hopping along the leafy limbs. The smaller of the two stood on the edge of the branch, seemingly reluctant to do anything. The larger bird chirped, its bell like voice filling the air. The little bird seemed to get the message and jumped off the branch. It spread its ebony wings and flew above the reaching hands of the maple tree. It rose above the lacey forest and into the early morning glow.

As I watched it fade into the horizon, that feeling within me broke. Before I knew it, my body was flying down the hill. My legs carried me over the blemishes in the road and past the field of awakening cows. With every bounding footstep, my heart seemed to sing. It kept in tune with the wind that rushed into my lungs, and was harmonious to the voice that cried “go, go, go” inside of me.

In a dreamlike blur, I finally arrived at my Grandparents’ farmhouse. I scaled the staircase with ridiculous ease and burst into my room. I snatched clothing from my closet and dresser, most of them being my favorite, and stuffed them into a duffle bag along with my wallet and shoes. My pajamas were scattered on the floor, and I was now wearing ripped jeans and an anime character shirt. The wedding dress would stay in the corner where it belonged.

Seeing that time was running as fast as I was, I swiftly grabbed a sheet of paper and began writing. If there was one difference between my parents and I, it would be that I would come back to the ones I loved. I would come back when I could repay them tenfold for what they did. As for Mr. Simon Johnson, I gave him my humblest apologies and the hope that he would forgive me. I also wished him all the love that I couldn’t offer him. With the note in place, I dashed out of my room. For a moment, I stared at my Grandparents’ room. It was now or never.

“I love ya’ll,” I whispered and went down the stairs. The morning was radiant and clear as I ran down the road.




“Hey, Crystal, are you guys on your way?”

“Yeah, Bradley’s asleep, so I’m driving.”

“Um, what time’s your flight tonight?”

“Ten o’clock, right after your reception.”

“Change the time.”

“What? Why?”

“Because...because I want to come with ya’ll. I’m not getting married anymore.”

“....Please tell me you’re not joking.”

“No joke. I’ll explain the details later. Meet me at Ebenezer’s Hill.”

“Say no more, girl, we’re coming!”

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