Youth is an old woman. She lines her wrinkled mouth with lipstick, filling in the folds with wax and pigment. Staining her teeth, red over bone. She will talk to anyone who will listen.
Yesterday, I was sixteen, she always begins. She flicks her white hair across her shoulder. Gold-plated bracelets jangle on her wrists. A boy asks her how old she is today, and she laughs. I was once your age, she answers instead.
"I'm this many years old," the boy says, holding up five sticky fingers. "What's your name?"
When she tells him, he is confused. He doesn't understand what her name means, and she envies him for not knowing. For being able to look ahead, instead of back, always.
You'll understand later, she assures him, near the end. When his mother calls him over, telling him he has to go, Youth suggests that he run away with her. He is mortified; she winks. Rebel a little, she says, or you'll miss it.
When her hair catches the light, the white strands almost look blond.
Miye Sugino is a writer and graphic designer who grew up in Tokyo and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work is published or forthcoming in Parallax Online, Cathartic Literary Magazine and the Celebrating Art anthology, among others. She is a Juniper Institute for Young Writers scholarship recipient and will be attending the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop this summer.