I am young.
Said like that, it is a matter of fact, but ever since I blew out thirteen candles five years ago, I have forgotten how to be young.
"There is a monster," they used to tell me, "there is a monster at the end of -teen, the end of school, the end of youth. There is a monster, so do not let one second slip by your plan of action. There is a monster, be wise, prepare yourself so you do not die."
I heeded their advice like a soldier preparing for war, but as I welded armors and shields and helmets made of stone, I found an emptiness in their instruction. They had not told me that I'd die of hunger and thirst and fatigue first.
So let us not go fighting dragons and spilling young blood, I would tell them if I could, not yet.
Let us run as far away as we can and leave behind the field of warriors ready to die. Let us run over planes and hills of jagged rocks and across mountains and valleys of thorns. Let us raid a town and gather supplies, bread and water and -- shoes, maybe? We'll kiss our mothers goodbye and nod at our fathers, promise them letters and hug them for good measure, and then we'll run away just for a little while.
Let the springs in our soles remind us of our youth as we sprint past the graveyard where the dead ones sleep -- gravel turning under our feet as we kick behind us a path set since birth -- the ones who left having spent their time preparing for the dual but not the journey. Let us run through their resting place and into the woods where they told us never to go.
Let us listen to the whispers of the wind as it kisses our skin, our souls stirring at the azure skies above us and the shifting energy between us. Let our ribcages rattle at the sight of orange and white, stripped fur and gnarly eyes. We'll climb and escape and shiver as it waits for us. We'll watch the sunset and count the studs of stars in the sky when light goes to sleep, and then we'll laugh when it leaves, "Oh, what luck," we'll scream.
Let us dip our toes in oceans and feel the chill biting through our skin. Our blood will freeze and it'll ache when we hear the squawks of seagulls ringing through the clouds. Let us yell in response, yell to the sky, yell to the seagulls and yell like it's fine.
Let us recruit as we run some more through dungeons and lairs. Let us sit around fires and tell stories of happier times, roasting wild rabbits and snacking on blueberries. Let our hearts beat as one as we remember what it was like to not know of the dragon but of dandelions and primroses.
Let us look up and then catch sight of that one person across the room -- the one with bright eyes and a passion louder than life. Listen; a gulping throat and static in the background. I'll get up and I'll walk over and we'll fall in love. We'll chase shooting stars, sleep in meadows under the galaxy and I'll learn the living lines etched on his skin as we fall into slumber.
Let us run and run some more until our lungs explode and our blood seeps dry and our vision blurs. Let us run until the vultures come and we've exhausted our supplies and we've collected adventures. Let us run as they circle us and chase us and stalk us and then, comrade, let us run with the vultures. Let us run until our knees give way and we buckle and we fall.
I'll pick you up and I'll try my best even if I crave for breaths. We'll stumble back together -- back to the battlefield and, it is then I'll know: the dragon will kill us but we shan't be afraid.