Drama Sad Teens & Young Adult

This story contains sensitive content

Trigger Warnings include: Mental health issues, implied trauma, parental neglect, substance abuse (alcoholism), withdrawal, suicidal thoughts, mentions of implied suicide, mentioned parent/spouse death. Please read with caution. 

This story is a continuation of I Don't Know What to Tell You and The Fucking Ugly Truth which are on my profile, but can be read on its own.

Evan had seen what trying looked like while his mom was still alive. With her, trying was a dark cloud that hung over every step she took. She smiled and laughed, and that cloud reminded her that she wasn’t really happy—she was only trying. It never seemed to dissipate. Until it did. The trying stopped and was replaced with an empty space. The empty space never seemed to be confined to one spot. It took up half of his dad’s bed. It took up a seat at the dining room table. It took up a section of the driveway. It took up a crease in the couch. For a while after that, the dark cloud was gone and there was no more trying. Not for any of them.

Evan’s dad filled the space that cloud had left behind with alcohol, and for a while, Evan didn’t fill the space at all. He left it empty and numb. There didn’t seem to be any point in filling it. When the numbness got too exhausting to hold on his own, Evan picked up an old friend: trying. He tried in small paper pamphlets left on his dad’s untouched desk. He tried in bottles poured down the drain and smashed in the dumpster outside. He tried in pleading conversations that came across as screaming matches. He tried until he didn’t.

Something had happened, and in the twenty minutes that it took, Evan had tried hard enough to last him what felt like a lifetime. He was done trying, and that cloud again dissipated. It left space on the desk and in the air and it filled space in the fridge. If Evan’s dad didn’t notice the change, it was because he still wasn’t trying to. The exhausted numbness that caught Evan at the bottom of his fall was something familiar, and he slipped away into it easily. He let it hold him, let it comfort him the way his mother probably would have, and then he stood up. He thought of smiles that fell crooked and laughs that cut off short, and he thought those were better than skipped meals and missed alarms.

To him, trying was waking with the alarm, even if he didn’t get up. Trying was taking food when his dad made it, even if half of it stayed on the plate, even if half of it got piled on top of the empty cans in the trash. Trying was sitting in a room with a woman who spoke softly, and trying was telling her everything, everything. Trying was shaking as he emptied her box of tissues, and trying was wiping his face with his hoodie sleeves while they waited for the police to come and take his statement. Trying was watching his baseball coach get arrested, and trying was still being alive the next day. And the next. And the next.

Eventually, trying became having dinner with his dad again so the time to tell him might come up. Trying was bringing it up over cold spaghetti, and sure, trying was getting brushed off like a scrap of paper. Trying, for Evan, was finding the energy to scrape his plate into the trash and scrape the rust off of his body even after finding the dull truth that his dad had given up on himself, and on him. For Evan, trying was a painful climb from the lowest fall of his life, and every step ached with the bite of it.

He had forgotten what trying might look like for his dad. Evan had stayed in bed the day after he pushed his cold spaghetti onto empty bottles, and he had stayed in bed the day after that, and after that, too. He was alive, and he was awake to turn the alarm off, and that was better than it would have been to curl up and die. He told himself that every time he had to pull his stained arm out from under the covers to hit the button, and that was trying, too.

Evan’s dad stepped in at 11:00, crossing into the room like a shadow. Evan waited for a hint of that cloud his mother brought along with her everywhere, that cloud of trying, trying, and instead, he found his dad’s hand resting on the doorknob. His dad said something half-hearted, and he said something half-hearted back, and Evan watched as his doorknob was freed and his door gently drifted to almost shut. That was trying. Just barely, just scraping the surface of what Evan needed, but it was trying. Trying was the shape of his dad’s face as everything that Evan had been holding onto spilled out. Trying was the pathetic way Evan’s dad had had no idea what to do about it.

It was ugly and dark, and in the weeks that followed, it filled the house. Everyone was trying, and it never quite became what it was before, but it was something. It was Evan’s dad quitting cold turkey, hating himself and hating the world. It was the green under his eyes, the empty bottles of Advil that replaced empty bottles of something else in the trash. It was bad food that went mostly uneaten, and it was two people who were still alive. It was two people who still had a wife to mourn, a mom to mourn, and it was two people who didn’t have to be mourned by anyone else quite yet. For Evan, trying was hard, and trying hurt, and sometimes he was so sick of it that he almost wanted to stop. On days like that, trying was finding out that his dad felt it too, and trying tasted like burnt eggs over a dining room table that would always be one person short.

With Evan, trying was a dark cloud that hung over the house, and hung over him in the halls at school between glances and whispers and public pity for a private pain. Sometimes the light shone through that cloud, and sometimes it rained. Sometimes it poured like blood and Evan nearly drowned in it. He let it rain, and he let himself hurt, and when the sun came, he let himself smile in ways that fell crooked. He carried it with him, and he carried on.  

February 06, 2024 17:49

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


Jennifer Fremon
14:56 Feb 15, 2024

I read this and then went back and read the other two. What a sad but beautifully written collection of stories. This story is full of excellent little details that really make the reader feel the pain that exists in this home, along with the occasional tiny threads of hope. This one was my favorite: "On days like that, trying was finding out that his dad felt it too, and trying tasted like burnt eggs over a dining room table that would always be one person short."


D'Spencer Luyao
18:17 Feb 15, 2024

Thank you so much! These stories are so close to my heart so it always means a lot when anything resonates. I'm so glad you liked them, thank you for giving them a read!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mary Bendickson
20:17 Feb 06, 2024

Keep trying til you make it.


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.