Contemporary Coming of Age Drama


By: Mackenzie Hebner

Silence. It wasn’t your typical household atmosphere. There wasn’t music in one corner and riveting drama in another. There wasn’t even an exchanging of kind words or a consuming stream of rebukes. Instead, there was only silence. And it hung, torturesome, in the ventilating air ultimately connecting each room, each member. Even anonymous guests could sense its unbearable presence as the inhabitants scurried to construct a smiling facade of welcoming intention, desperate not to let their secrets slip, for the silence was held together only by their own unspoken knowledge, the breaking of which could never be undone, and Nancy wasn’t ready for that. After all, she was the closest one to ruining everything. 

You see, Nancy was eighteen at the time. Almost nineteen in fact. The three most common words her peers had used to describe her averaged out to be: gentle, wise, and loving. Nancy spent her nights staying up throughout countless urges of exhaustion from her host, writing letters to struggling friends or reaching out to someone in crisis or journaling in her Bible she’d had since sixth grade. Nancy was kind and compassionate and that’s what makes her story so much more painful to tell. 

You see, Nancy was struggling, deep down, there was something bothering her, but she couldn’t say. She had opened up to someone once, and it had destroyed both of them. She couldn’t risk it again, even as Harry’s soothing speech convinced her it could be okay to open up again, she knew silence was her only option. She had learned her lesson at a young age, silence was the only thing on her side. So, as deeply as she wanted to share her embedded concerns with dear Harry, she would rather spare him, and in turn, remain on allied terms with her only ally. So, she wrote about it instead. But in the midst of her gaining a voice, her vision was blurred by emotions so strong, so hauntingly powerful. People cared, and Nancy knew that, but there was still no one she could tell. Not until she was stable on her own, far away from the involuntary companionship of silence. 

You see, Nancy needed to free herself, but she feared the only way to do so would be to speak her mind, to tear the silence that held her family together, to rip off the bandaid that had been ignorantly re-applied for years. No one wanted to face the facts, but then again, no one was affected the way Nancy was. She had been tampered with, deep down. Missed out on something essential in life, in relationship, in family. Nancy was hurting. Nancy felt empty. 

Remember when I said those three words that everyone used to describe dear Nancy? Gentle, wise, loving? Nancy saw that deep within her heart, the burrowing pain had festered. Though people would still use those words to describe her, they could not see her heart, and Nancy saw her heart was filling with something she never thought she could feel: hate. This wasn’t who Nancy wanted to be, she didn’t want to be someone capable of hate, but now she was. Nancy had been corrupted, too far down for anyone to see, but deeply embedded enough that it became all her reflection could mention. Nancy was selfish now. Nancy had hate in her heart now. Nancy had ridiculous expectations now. Nancy wasn’t thankful for the little things now. Nancy was a beast now. Nancy was a broken record now. Nancy was unrecognizable now. Nancy was incapable of speaking up. Nancy only wanted someone to see her and to remind her who she was. Nancy only wanted someone to pull her out. Nancy only wanted peace. Nancy only wanted to be happy again. With life, with herself. Nancy was drowning, but even that seemed selfish for her to admit. Nancy didn’t want things to be like this anymore. She was disappointed, not necessarily in herself, but in the hand of the cards she had been so seemingly unjustly dealt. She didn’t like where this was going. 

So Nancy went to the only comfort she knew. She pulled out her Bible and opened a very particular page. There was an exhale of relief as her finger ran across the words she had been searching for. Words she had been reaching to recall to memory for a while now.

Mark 11:24- “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

And so she did. Nancy prayed, and she closed her eyes, and she laid her head upon her favorite pillow. She held her Bible tight to her chest and closed her eyes tightly, and she prayed. She prayed for peace. She prayed for freedom. She prayed for hope. She prayed to be reminded of who she was. She prayed for something beyond the silence. And as she prayed, the answer she had hoped for began to come to light as she felt something begin to churn inside of her. She saw a light at the end of the tunnel and she was ready to take it. She wasn’t yet sure where it would lead, but she desperately wanted to find out. 

As she walked, she was met by a figure, adorned in white, bright lights encircling, olive skin and loving eyes suddenly beckoning her.  

“Welcome home, Nancy, my beloved daughter,” a voice like no other called to her. A voice, not even the words loving and gentle could begin to describe. Nancy had prayed to be filled with peace and reminded of who she was, and her prayer was answered. Nancy was brought home to see her Father, to show her the Nancy He saw and so dearly loved. Nancy was at peace now. Nancy was free now. For, after all those years of slowly fading, of slowly losing faith in herself, of slowly giving up, at the perfect moment, her perfect Father swooped in, to remind His dearest daughter of who she was in His eyes. Nancy had peace now, but she could not stay here. For now that she had seen, she no longer needed to doubt and she could return ultimately fulfilled. 

It was time for Nancy to wake up from her dream now, reminded of her true family. One wider than every desert and deeper than every ocean. One more loving and forgiving and loyal than she could ever dream. Nancy had a family. After all, no one ever told Nancy that family was only blood. Family is family, regardless of what binds you. 

October 23, 2020 23:56

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T. S. Burkhardh
20:20 Oct 29, 2020

I loved that you showed some of the painful complexity of what people go through in this life. And the transcendent bond that is the answer to that pain. I think you took a very creative and clever approach to the prompt about family. I kind of like how you only use the word 'family' at the end but a lot of what comes before could be viewed as actually about family or the longing for family. A part of one line that I didn't really get was this one: "Nancy spent her nights staying up throughout countless urges of exhaustion from her host..." ...


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Sam W
16:49 Oct 29, 2020

I loved this story, Mackenzie. We all need reminders of how powerful a call for help can be, especially when you are in a moment of despair. I think the story, and Nancy's deliverance, would be more complete if you explicitly stated what Nancy's secret was. But then again, it's a stylistic choice.


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