I don’t remember when it started, and I doubt I’ll remember when it ends – if it does end at all. I’m shocked I didn’t notice it starting, but I wish I had. Maybe if I did, I could have found a way to stop it, to snip it at the bud before it fully bloomed and before it grew to such an extent.

My days grow foggier with each new addition to my body. On my left hand, my ring finger has shed its skin and bone; now from the stump grow red carnations. Though at times they wilt, in their place grow yellow ones instead. When I blush, a single red rose blooms on the tip of my nose, while my cheeks and the tips of my ears are adorned by white chrysanthemums. My hair has cactus spikes hidden inside it, stabbing anyone who dares run their fingers through it. When I’m enraged, the spikes fly from my head as if responding to my rage with their own. As I walk around town, gardenias fly behind me, leaving a trail of white wherever I go. When I cry, marigolds and daffodils fall from my eyes. At first they burned, causing me to cry out in pain, but now they gently slide down my cheeks and float onto the ground.

My body craves more water than it ever did before, and I no longer hunger for most foods. I always feel the most energized while standing in the warm glow of the sun. I don’t know what I am becoming...

Kai Hemingway, 17, St. Albans

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