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Two Figures, One Age

Photo by: Hayley Clark

One month from today

I turn eighteen.



The combination of figures terrify me

the linear 1

next to the swirling 8

Not because they look the way they do

but because the number’s lines and curves

are like a picture

speaking a thousand truths into existence

with two little figures.

Eighteen means adulthood.

Eighteen means the end of what I know

summers filled with watermelon Kool-Aid

winters filled with sledding and snowmen

losing teeth to the crunch of food

and losing sleep to Christmas morning.

Eighteen means losing a lot of things.

Losing money

losing freedom

and losing everything that means so much to me.

I have 31 days



of childhood remaining

31 days to make my childhood worthwhile.

But the only thing occupying my mind

is this godforsaken number

and everything that it drags with it.

Two weeks from today

I turn eighteen.


I can’t even write the number.

Reality has set in

that in two weeks

my childhood will be


I’ve started rehearsing the phrase

“I am eighteen years old”

just to get used to how it sounds

although I don’t like

the phonetics of the age.

The number sounds unwelcome among my lips and tongue

harsh and grotesque

like the uninhabitable terrain

of a vicious war zone.

I’ve planned my birthday party too

a big 

“eighteenth birthday bash”

but I don’t feel like celebrating now

and I’m not sure if I will then either.

One week from today,

I turn eighteen.

My mom scheduled me an appointment

to get me TSA pre-check

since I will no longer be young enough

to ride off of hers.

There are a few things I think I am excited for

when I turn eighteen:

the ability to vote

lottery tickets

calling myself out of school

(I will use this privilege much more than I need to)

but I will also have to schedule my own appointments

without the shelter

of my mom’s wings.

I am terrified of


I am terrified of


It will bring so much 


but so much 


Being an adult

is a 



I turn eighteen.

I didn’t have school today

which left me to my own thoughts.

I am both nervous and excited.

Nervous because

I’m on my own now

excited because

I’m on my own now.

My mom looked at me differently today

with a strange glimmer in her eyes

I have never seen before.

She told me

she didn’t feel like an adult herself

until she was

at least 26.



She has always been so put-together

that I would have thought

she was as put together at eighteen 


I guess she wasn’t.

I know I’m not.

A hundred different emotions

are pulling me in different directions

my mind a chaotic mess of ribbons

curled like Christmas present bows

and tugging me every which way.

I haven’t cried yet

but knowing me

I probably will before I fall asleep.

Knowing me, though

I will probably go outside soon too

and play in the snow.

It’s my last day of childhood,

after all.

I have been told by the wise

that the world does not end

after seventeen.

I don’t think I believed them until now.

Now, I am 18.



The world did not end.

I still have air in my lungs

enough to blow out the candles on my birthday cake

and enough to realize

that turning this godforsaken number

will not take the air from me.

I am still scared of the number 18

its linear 1

and its swirling 8

but I accept its presence now.

Its doom still lurks in the distance

and I’m sure something about it

will always keep me afraid of the dark

but I cannot turn back

I can only move forward.

Forward can be a wonderful thing

especially when you know

what you thought was the end a month ago

was only the beginning.

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  • E

    Ella ReiterMar 13, 2024 at 2:49 PM

    This poem is beautifully written and truly conveys the thoughts and emotions of turning 18. As someone who is already 18, I really relate to this poem and understand everything you are saying. I also love the structure and how the beginning of the poem connects back to the end. Great work!

  • A

    Ava YoblonskiFeb 16, 2024 at 10:03 AM

    I really like this poem, you have an amazing sense of imagery. I also think this is very relatable to many people who are turning a new age with new responsibilities, Amazing job! 🙂