If you’re really looking, you’ll spot one today.
Go to the fruit & veg section of a supermarket. You’re looking for a young person, about fourteen to seventeen years old. They’ll be alone. They’ll be having problems. First thing you’ll notice will be the problems.
Problems with expectations.
Problems with expectations and boxes – being put in boxes when the box they belong in is not a box at all; when the concept of belonging will never involve boxes; when the concept of belonging is itself a box in which they don’t belong. And so on.
Problems with preoccupations. Preoccupations, perhaps, with famous serial killers. Preoccupations with wondering if that’s an OK preoccupation to have. Preoccupations with interspersing their serial killer documentary wormholes with cute kitten videos, just in case karma is a real thing. Preoccupations with karma. And so on.
Problems, wafting off them like cartoon stink rays. Wafting from the tops of their hunched shoulders, off every strand of their wild, electric blue hair.
You’ll spot them pacing up and down the fruit & veg section, shifty eyed, checking out the price of the blueberries. This is to expend nervous energy. This is to blend in as well as they can. Really – when did a teenager ever care about the price of blueberries?
No, it’s another fruit they’re after. It’s the melons. It’s that big, spherical watermelon with those, flat, slimy seeds. Watch them work their way towards the melon section.
Watch them, but don’t let them spot you watching them.
If they spot you watching them – if anything resembling eye contact happens – you’ll rabbit-in-the-headlights them.
When they get rabbit-in-the-headlighted, they might vomit. They might vomit because reasons. Reasons like panic attacks. Panics attacks caused by expectations. Expectations and boxes. Expectations, boxes and anything that is not watching serial killer and cute kitten videos and thinking about karma.
Plus, they don’t want you or anyone to know about the melon thing. Nobody can know what they have planned for the melon. If you know what they have planned for the melon, it would ruin what they have planned for the melon.
So yeah, avoid eye contact. Pay for your groceries. Forget about them. They are not your problem.
Melon? What melon?
You’re home. You’re unpacking your groceries.
You hear a rumbling in the distance. Or is it a squishing sound? Whatever it is, it is getting closer.
You go outside to look.
A giant water melon is careering down the street and they are inside it. You know it is them inside it because you notice a wind-swept tuft of that unmistakable electric blue hair protruding out of it.
It rolls and bounces in your direction.
Another giant melon comes into your line of sight. And another.
Within seconds, there is a stampede of giant melons. Out of each melon protrudes a different colour of wild hair.
The melons knock and bend lampposts as they go past. Car alarms are being set off. Potholes are being created. There are dogs are barking excitedly. There are people hitting ‘record’ and holding up their phones. Social media is going mental.
Moving alongside the melons, you spot more people – also with wild hair and hunched shoulders and problems. These people are surfing on giant melon seeds, criss-crossing and weaving at breakneck speeds, carving up the tarmac.
It is a veritable street parade of melon misfits.
Together, they gather great momentum, the seed people utilising the slipstreams of the giant melons. Together, they reach the summit of a hill and shoot upwards like pink, green and black comets – their wild hair the tails.
They take off, up into the clouds. The sky appears filled with multiple solar eclipses alongside giant flocks of migrating birds.
All of you are out in the street now, watching this impromptu parade disappear into the sky, into dots, into outer space.
It is not for any of you to know what they are doing up there. But, up there they are. Up there for a few years. Up there for however long it takes. Up there for don’t you even worry about it.
Just you worry about the price of blueberries. Just you go back inside and unpack those groceries.
One day, they will return to earth. They will return to earth with a bang, and they will be able to look you right in the eye, and no panic attack will be had for no reasons.
One day, they will return to earth, where no boxes will be waiting for them. No expectations. No problems. Just a ton of preoccupations. Loud, proud, preoccupations.
One day, they will return to earth together. For now, just you let those melons go up into the sky.
Neil Clark is a writer from Edinburgh, Scotland. This year, he has work coming out in Memoir Mixtapes, Cabinet of Heed, Riggwelter Press and Formercactus. Before this year, he didn’t know what an acceptance looked like. He has no idea what happened.