Young Writers Project: 'Social Ladder'

Jun 8, 2018

She clings,
helpless,
to her rung –
never looking at
those below her,
always gazing up
to where they all want to be:
the rungs that hold
the rich,
perfect,
thin things.
The popular ones.

Her rung is crowded
with all her "friends" clinging to it,
to her.

All they want is to move
up.
They tell themselves they will
be happy there,
at the top.
If they looked, they could see that isn't true.

And she spends
all her energy
trying to climb.
But as soon as she takes a hand off
to reach the next rung,
the whole
ladder
shakes,
and she puts it back on.

“Don't climb,” they whisper to her,
“you won't make it. You could fall.”
“But you can't stay here,” they whisper to her,
“you'll never be happy.
You can only be happy at the top.
You need to be at the top.”

And she tries.
She starves herself
and loses who she is
to try to get to the top,
where everyone will look up to
her.
But it doesn't work,
and she stays
clinging
to her rung.

Slowly
she realizes
she can never be happy.
Not on here,
not on the ladder.

And while their screams echo in her ears, she finally decides
to let go,
to fall off the ladder.
“No!” they yell at her, “you can't! The fall will break you.  
You can't give up.  You need this.
You need the ladder.”

“No,” she replies, “I don't.
And it's not giving up.”

She falls.

And realizes that
you don't
have to be at
the top
to
be
happy.

The Young Writers Project provides VPR's audience another avenue to hear and read selections from Vermont's young writers. The thoughts and ideas expressed here are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Vermont Public Radio.

The collaboration is organized by Susan Reid of Young Writers Project and Vermont Public Radio.