Grade: 12th
Age:

The Dandelion Boy

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12th grade
Ashley H.

I recently watched a documentary that said we all are one-third dandelions. It said some of our DNA is shared, or something, but mostly I just like the idea of weeds climbing through my veins.

And I have to wonder that maybe if we just siphoned out those dandelions from each person, from toes to knees, like how we pluck real ones from the sidewalk, maybe we could create little dandelion-citizens by twisting three parts together.

They would create their own nation full of life. Build little grassy houses and mud-caked shops and drive around in moss chariots. They would build monuments in the shape of snowflakes; they would create orchestras that mimicked the sound of wind in grass. They would assemble statues of the moon and tear down confining cement sidewalks. We would think they are the most charming things in the world, at first.

But eventually, they would sequester themselves from those bumbling human giants, who pave over their land and step mindlessly on their people. But it would be alright, because we would also sequester ourselves from those quaint dirt-people, odd things, who refuse to trade and organize and help in war.

But one day, a little yellow boy will be born with seeds in his hair, to two lovely humans who have lost their one-third dandelion long ago. And he will be all dandelion, but large and with skin. Human but with weeds running through his veins. Not just one third, like the rest of us. One whole. A genetic mistake that was bound to happen eventually.

The doctors can’t do anything about it. Removing his weeds would be akin to removing his blood. But we could try, they mutter, in hushed tones. The kid might not survive, but we could try. It’d be revolutionary. A breakthrough.

They don’t. His parents are too afraid of his tufts of yellow, seedling hair being splashed across the front page.

After he learns to walk and say please, his skin-family tosses him out, because they have removed their dandelion-parts already, and can’t understand how his tongue is silver-green and why he can’t help but yearn for sun.

He finds his vein-family, a few years after, but they reject him too, because he is large and oafish and cannot understand the language of rain and sun. They are lovely, but not always kind. Dandelions are like that.

So he wanders. The wind carries him across the world, through forests and hills and small speckled towns.

For a while, he is content alone. He reads about wine made from his people and flowers that learn to love. He dreams of laughing stars and bells that chime with death. Come winter, he follows a trail of birds, migrating with a flock that speaks his language. To another forest, another city, with another book and another dream.

But eventually, he seeks human interaction. He is lonely. He misses his parents. People.

So he settles down in a city, pretends to be human, squeezing his leafy toes into uncomfortable shoes, hiding his hair with scarves that keep the wind out. He rides the subway with soulful eyes and drops pennies into outstretched hands. He visits his favorite flower shop, every day, on the corner of First and Park, tries not to whisper condolences to his friends in vases.

But it is tiring, hiding like this. He is not human, not entirely, and although bright streetlamps call to him like he’s a moth, he knows they are just substitutes for sunlight and an old life.

So after a particularly long subway ride, when the sky is overcast and cloudy, he decides he is tired of pretending. He hangs up his scarf and tucks away his shoes in the back corner of a small closet. He catches a taxi with hair as bright as its shiny paint; he dances under streetlamps with toes that are more green than pink.

But he finds himself alone again, poor dandelion boy, because he learns that people can’t accept what they don’t know. They don’t know him. They throw stones at him, foolish boy, because don’t you know dandelions have their own land now? Go live with them, dirt-boy. Or at least pretend to be one of us.

They tear off the leaves on his toes, and he cries, wishing they understood it’s like plucking off limbs. They don’t. Pennies are pulled from his pockets, the seeds in his hair tumble down. He wishes to sink into the ground. He can’t.

Later that night, in his dimly-lit apartment, with chipping paint and stained floorboards, he chews off his own name. He digs into his veins and carves out every weed that grows inside. His eye sockets drip gold, but he will never know, because he is too busy reaching inside them to pull out dandelions from his brain. He cuts off his toes and shaves off his hair. Now he is hobbled and blind, but better than dirt. Better than nothing.

So he returns to his skin-family, looking for compassion, looking for acceptance now that he is no longer gold and green, but he finds nothing. They have left long ago, but even if they did not, they wouldn’t recognize him. He is ugly, now, an oaf like he never was before, clumsy and pink and blind.

He fades away, withers and shrivels without those dandelions keeping him alive. He finally sinks into the ground, but nothing will grow on his grave. Nothing can.

Maybe a few years later, doctors and politicians and scientists will discover how terrible it is to extract dandelions from people. How we need to be a little yellow sometimes, look towards the sun sometimes, dance with green toes sometimes. Maybe, though, nothing will change, and a couple kids born every decade will slip through concrete cracks, carving themselves out, then dying. I don’t know.

After class, my teacher raised his eyebrow asked if I learned anything from the documentary. Oh, yes, I said. I did.

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