Prose, Grades 10-12: Second Place

The Art of Escapism — Hannah Bernstein

I was watching the 2009 Star Trek movie and when the credits rolled, I started crying. I couldn’t figure out why, so I sat down and I thought about it for a while until something started to make sense.
You see, sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the millions of fictional characters I have read about in my short lifetime — the ones I read about at the breakfast table, the ones I look up to, the ones I cherish and love with everything I have.
Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with my desire to be a cadet at the top of my class at Starfleet Academy, to be off the charts in my aptitude tests. I want to have to worry about when the Klingons are going to attack.
It always takes me a second to remember that I’m not James T. Kirk. The Klingons are not going to attack; I am not in the middle of an intergalactic war. And then I think, Maybe I am — maybe the war I’m in is just less visible. Maybe my war is trying to figure out which fictional world I’m going to be wrapped up in when I wake up in the morning, and the offensive tactics I’ll have to use to remember where I really am.
As a kid, I used to check all of the closets and wardrobes in every house I visited, blindly hoping to find Narnia in every single one. I spent hours crying on my 11th birthday when my Hogwarts letter didn’t come, when no Albus Dumbledore showed up on my doorstep, when no Hagrid appeared to take me to Diagon Alley.
You’d think after a while I would have learned my lesson, but sometimes I still wake up in the morning wishing I knew how to pilot a starship or ride a broomstick or defeat an evil ice queen in a land through a wardrobe and far away. Sometimes I still wake up in the morning wondering if that noise I just heard outside my window is the sound of the TARDIS, that the Doctor has come to take me away.
In the words of a very wise Vulcan I will never have the opportunity to meet, What is… is. I am here now, and this is my world. As parts, we are infinitely more important than the whole. I can’t forget my part here, even though some days I wake up and all I want is to fall into the river of someone else’s rescue and let it carry me far away from here.
But no matter how much I preach to myself in the bathroom mirror, a mask will glue itself onto my skin if I sleep with it for long enough. I am a girl who has spent my whole life trying to wish myself away from here only to find that I am the product of thousands of fairytales, stitched together into my very own coat of dreams.
And I will wear this dreamcoat into the ground, until it encompasses all of me, because we are what we make ourselves, and no matter which world I get lost in tomorrow, they’ve taught me more than I could ever thank them for.