Taking Responsibility

Submitted into Contest #139 in response to: Start your story with the words: “Grow up.”... view prompt


Fiction Inspirational Happy

      “Grow up,” she told him with a face of disgust.

           “How should I have known?”

           “No,” she snapped back. “No, don’t even try it.”

           One cup had already been smashed and it appeared that more dishware would be imminently destroyed.

           “You’ve been using those excuses for over a year now and I’m tired of it.”

           The tone changed to one of reluctant acceptance.

           “This isn’t working out, I’m afraid.”

           “Really, this time it wasn’t my fault, I swear to it.”

           “Telling you to ‘grow up’ is about as effective as…”

           “I said I can change, dammit!”

           “As, as… as I don’t know, it’s just not effective at all.”

           A porcelain bowl flew across the kitchen and shattered against the wall. Screaming ripped apart the serenity of the night as emotions roiled and erupted. Minutes seemed to crawl on all fours and drag behind them a boulder.

           “I think this is it,” she began solemnly. “We can’t continue…”

           The furious anger that was palpable only minutes prior morphed into grief.

           “You should leave.”

           “Where will I go?”

           “I don’t know but you can’t stay here.”

           He picked himself off the debris covered floor and shuffled towards the closet. After some brief rummaging he pulled out a decaying suitcase with only three functional wheels.

           “I’ll need some time to… you know,” he elaborated while motioning with one hand.

           She nodded her head in silent reply.

           The waves of depression would usually come and go with seemingly no relation to reality. He battled with it his whole life, but no clear source ever presented itself. This time was different. As he packed his suitcase, the desperation began to tear at him from within. There was no doubt why this was happening. Biting his bottom lip, he continued to stuff clothes into the suitcase. He reached at a shirt, grabbed it and closed his fist tightly around it.

The depression stemmed from no external source – it was all his fault. He was a mess. The tightly held shirt was an ad hoc handkerchief as he sobbed. She stood by the door to the bedroom, feeling pity but firm in her resolve. They both knew he was a mess. He turned around to face her. She turned her head away in disgust as before. Eventually she walked back to the kitchen to clean up the mess. The packing and self-pity continued until one was full and the other empty.

           He trudged towards the door with the suitcase and a backpack slung over one shoulder. He could the sound of glass being swept up coming from the kitchen. A final thought crossed his mind before he left. He discarded it immediately and opened the door. The air hit his tear-streaked face and filled his strained lungs with cool, soothing feeling. The wave of depression suddenly subsided and the world was suddenly whole again. How many times had he been here before but not realized it yet? The threshold he was about to cross was not one he had decided on, but one that was thrust upon him by…

           An angry expletive coming from the kitchen had interrupted his own little Rubicon moment. He quickly concluded that she had cut herself on a shard of glass and returned back to staring at the cool darkness in front of him. There was no going back after this, but she hadn’t left him with any choice in matter. So, it seemed the only thing left was to physically cross. Left foot, right foot. The suitcase dragged behind him and tumbled down onto the concrete porch. He reached back towards the door and slammed it shut. It was done, he was here. He descended the steps while the cool air enveloped him. The door lock clicked behind him.

           “I want this,” he said to himself.

           The words came out clearly, but they seemed like delusional reassurance more than authentic belief. It doesn’t matter if you want this, he thought to himself.

           “No, I need this.”

           Turning around at the door he said one final goodbye and began dragging his suitcase. The fourth wheel dragged against the sidewalk as he soldiered on down the street.


           The hotel he was staying at was nothing spectacular, but the change of scenery was a welcome sight. He sat on the bed and glanced around the white room. A NO SMOKING sign hung above the television, and the price of each drink in the mini fridge was neatly written in a pamphlet on the TV stand. He picked it up and considered his choices. Alcohol this, sugary drink that. If growth is what was needed then old habits had to die. He played with the pamphlet in his left hand while staring out the window. Besides, he thought to himself. The water is free.

           He opened the complementary Fresh Springs water and began looking through the pamphlet. Grow up replayed over and over in his head while he stared blankly at the price list. He was a child in an adult’s body. Even during the final argument, he could not own up to his faults.

           “She was right.”

           He took another swig of the water. Suddenly the alcohol looked more and more appealing. He considered his options, all the drinks reminded him of more lackadaisical times. Living for the moment and dismissing responsibility as just another nuisance.

           Mojito flavor BOTTLED, $6.99.

           He took another drink of the water, imaging it more than it was.

           Tequila Sunrise flavor BOTTLED, $7.99.

           He began regretting the crossing of his own little Rubicon earlier.

           Mint Julep flavor BOTTLED, $5.99.

           “But she left me little choice.”

           Ice available on demand, please call room service.

           He let the pamphlet fall to the carpet and finished the water. He grabbed his jacket off the coat hook and headed out into the brisk night. Alcoholism, he concluded, was best engaged in with others. Not alone in a hotel room.

           There were no bars nearby, but a local restaurant seemed a second-best choice. It was at half-capacity from what he could see.

           “Table for one, sir?”

           “Uh, yes,” he replied somewhat caught off guard. “My friends might join me later.”

           “Of course, sir. Please follow me.”

           He scanned the room while following the waiter to his table. Families with children, couples going out on dates not many singles tonight. He could be the impromptu entertainment for the night; give them a fool to mock.

           “Here we are, sir.”

           “Thank you.”

           “Can we start with something to drink?”

           He slowly sat down and looked at the family seated at a table across from him. The boy showed something to his father.

           “Dad, look at what I made.”

           “What is it son?”

           It was a paper with some drawing on it.

           “I’ll have a rye and coke.”

           “Very good, sir,”

           “My little boy is growing up so fast.”

           The waiter turned around and began to leave.

           “Wait, no!”

           “Hmm?” The waiter spun around as if on a swivel.

           “Just lemon water to start, please.”

           “Of course.” He spun around another 180 degrees and disappeared into the back.

           So, this was his sign from above.

           “We’ll hang it on the fridge when we get back, okay son?”

           He felt as if he were falling apart. As he glanced the room, he saw cheerful families and happy couples. What is it that they had that he didn’t? A man got up from his seat and went over to the bar to pay for his meal. His girlfriend followed admiringly behind him.

           A woman at another table wiped her son’s face after he made a mess eating ice cream.

           “Your lemon water, sir.” The waiter appeared as if from the ether.

           “Oh, thank you.”

           “Have you decided on what you would like to eat?”

           “No, not yet.”

           “Very good, sir.” The waiter swivelled around and vanished.

           The father and son across from him were getting up to pay for their meal. He had brought with him a large leather briefcase. He must have come from work directly here. No, he went to pick up his son first.

           “Daddy let me carry that for you.”

           The young child valiantly attempted to pick up the briefcase but eventually failed, much to the amusement of his father.

           “When you grow up son, I’ll let you carry this for me, okay?”

           The man picked up his briefcase, embraced his son, and walked over to pay.

She kicked me out to help me grow, he thought to himself as he sipped the lemon water

April 01, 2022 23:18

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.