Teens & Young Adult Creative Nonfiction Drama

It was a superhero film. I never liked super heroes, but Matt did. At the end when they dropped hints for a sequel before the screen went black, I stood on wobbly, cold legs. My pink flip flop sticking to the black ooze of the floor. But I felt his warm hand on my arm because Matt insisted on us sitting through the credits.“The franchise is well known for an ‘after credits scene,’” he told me as I reached for my bag. I sat back down. We, along with a handful of other patrons, sat silently watching names roll by to deafening music. I found myself rubbing my hands on my thighs to warm my legs.

At last, it was all over. We quietly gathered our things and headed out. The bright lights took a moment to adjust and I saw Matt’s face, filled with delight as he asked, “Did you love it?” I nodded. I lied. Olivia had warned me that boys only like girls who like what they like. He gave me a hug and small peck on my cheek as I relished in the warmth of the sun, “Great! I’ll text you at six.”

The summer sun felt good on my bare shoulders. I took a seat on the curb, watching a trail of black ants marching along. I had a boyfriend. A real live boyfriend. So why was the sinking feeling in my chest growing…growing…growing. Matt sped off, leaving me waiting for my mother. She arrived at the curb. I swallowed the lump in my throat. She asked me how I liked it and I kept it all very vague saying that superhero movies still weren’t my thing. Her green eyes met mine in the rearview mirror despite me being a passenger, “How did you meet this boy again?”

“At the last day of school bash, Mom,” I groaned. 

“Uh-huh…” she said.

“He’s a friend of Olivia’s, OK?” I blew strands of hair that had escaped my ponytail from my face. As I watched the cars around us pause at stoplight, make turns, and slowly peel away I found myself considering that last day of school in an attempt to understand why my heart wasn’t madly in love with him like girls on tv, or in school, or in movies: High schoolers were sprawled out in the grass, leaning against the warmth of the brick wall, or standing in pods gossiping. It was a colorful land of summer dresses and pastel button ups. I scanned the busy crowd and weaved my way to my friend Olivia. “Hi!” I squealed over the loud pop music blaring from the sound system and she gave me a big hug. Her bouncy brown curls grazed the top of my shoulders as she embraced me and I’m enveloped in the smell of pears.

“Remember my advice,” she hissed in my ear as she grabbed my arm and pulled me over to the picnic tables clustered by the doors of our school. “Matthew, this is Samantha,” she introduced us with a giggle. Matthew shook his head and fumbled with his napkin to wipe the grease from his pepperoni pizza lunch as he stood to shake my hand. I liked that he was tall. He was wearing a blue striped shirt and I had to tilt my head up to meet his deep, brown eyes behind square black glasses. We shook hands for a moment while Olivia confidently took a seat at the table with the boys.

“How do you know Olivia?” I asked Matthew.

“She’s in my math class. And, uh, you?” Matthew asked, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. 

“She and I met through a mutual friend. What grade are you in?” I remembered her advice that boys like to talk about themselves and aren’t good at asking questions. 

“I’m a sophomore, I’ll be a junior next year,” Matthew boasted with pride. He seemed to puff his chest a bit and I smiled. 

“Very cool. I’m a freshman, sophomore next year,” I shook my head to allow my long, dark braid to swing off my right shoulder to straight down my back. 

“Hey! You know you two live in the same neighborhood, right?” Olivia interrupted us. She turned to give me a wink before wrapping her long arms and legs around her boyfriend. His hands were locked in the same position they had been for the last six months: one around her waist, the other on her bare, ivory colored thigh. 

“Very cool,” Matthew said. “We should hang out this summer.”

“I’d love to,” I said with a blush. We exchanged phone numbers as the final bell for the last day of school rang out. I turned to wave goodbye as the flood of students rushed back into the building to grab backpacks and head for the parking lot. 

“What do you like about him?” Mom asked as she pulled the car into the garage. Her words broke me out of my memory. I used to like him. I could like him again. She unbuckled her seatbelt so she could turn to look at me, study my furrowed brows. “You know, building a relationship is about learning to love the things your partner loves,” she said. Her eyebrows raised briefly and fell. “It takes time. So he likes superhero movies. I think you’ve got to decide if you can live with someone who always wants to go see the superhero movie in theaters,” she sighed and opened the door.

Through the ringing of the car telling us that the door was open I asked, “And what if I can’t?” 

Mom closed the door softly. She placed both of her hands on the black steering wheel. For the first time I noticed a few wrinkles on her hands. Wisely, she chose to stare straight ahead at the green canoe covered in dust instead of back at me-her moody teenager. “Well, I guess he’s not the right one for you.” Mom gave a sad smile. 

I pouted, putting my chin in the palm of my hand. 

“Or, of course, you can decide to learn to love superhero movies for him…” her voice raised an octave. “Because, you know, life is full of color. It’s very rarely black and white,” she continued. We sat in silence for a bit. I unbuckled my seatbelt and considered another chapter Matt and I had written together: A few nights later, as I was watching TV, I received a text from an unknown number, “Hi Samantha, this is Matt.” 

My heart gave a flutter and I blushed. I immediately texted back and waited anxiously for his reply. We went through the usual how are yous and discussed the start of our summers before we decided to meet at our neighborhood playground for our very. first. date. 

I walked while listening to a soft love song on my phone. I arrived at 1:45pm on a Wednesday. I was embarrassed how early I was. Anxiously, I tucked my red skirt beneath myself before popping onto a little black swing. The comforting sway of the swing brought my heart rate down to manageable as I killed time until 2pm. My hand grew sweaty as my eyes watched the minutes pass on my phone until 2:15pm like a hawk. My heart began to crack. My legs stopped pumping as I admitted defeat. Matthew rode up on a little blue mini bike, pedaling furiously, his long, brown curls, billowing in the wind. “Hey, sorry I’m late,” he gasped out. I calmly hopped down from my swing and approached him. 

“I don’t mind,” I lied because that is what Olivia would have done. Boys don’t like it when girls scold them like their mothers. Matthew stashed the bike under a pine tree next to the playground and we began to walk and talk. I liked how his hands swung at his side. I liked the slight pink in his cheeks from the exercise. I liked how he asked questions about me. Matthew told me he preferred Matt. Matt wanted to be an engineer like his father. In contrast, I wanted to be a teacher. My dreams were to have a big family. Matt smiled at me and said we could do that on an engineer’s salary. We walked past my family’s condo and Matt asked if our family had a membership to the pool as he gazed longingly at the crystal water. I touched his arm, gently, and affirmed that we did. In an instant, I imagined him as a small child as a look of pure glee filled his face at the idea of a trip to the pool. 

We kept going, towards the pond our neighborhood was famous for. It was a nice walk, about a half mile in diameter with a bench on one side. Matt took my hand beneath green willows as we began our journey around “Shadow Pond.” His hand was cool and mine looked like a doll’s compared to his, but I fit perfectly. Olivia would tell me later that night that it was good news his hand was sweaty, it meant he liked me. Matt walked slowly for me since I was a good six inches shorter than he was. We approached the stone bench and took a seat. “I really like you. I’m glad Olivia introduced us,” Matt told me softly. Sitting so close to him I noticed soft stubble on his cheeks and I admired his cupid’s bow lips. 

“Me, too.” I smiled back at him and squeezed his hand. He didn’t smell like cologne. Instead, he smelled like home-clean laundry, freshly washed hair, and comfort. For a moment, we sat in silence, watching the bird dip down for a drink or gazing at the white clouds in the sky. When I turned to face Matt, I found his eyes already looking at mine. Slowly, gently, he gave me a soft kiss. I was over the moon. My heart beat grew loud and I began to hope that the love Olivia had found would belong to me, too.

Matt walked me back to the park, and grabbed his bike. He rode slowly beside me as I walked back to my home. “Wanna go to a movie with me?” he asked.

“Sure.” I smiled broadly at him, remembering my kiss from earlier. My heart rushed with adrenaline.

“Ok. I’ll text you,” he told me and embraced me on the cement porch of my parents’ home. I had half hoped for a second kiss, but instead walked inside clinging to cloud 9. I inhaled the cotton fabric of my red dress with white polka dots because it smelled like him. I ran to my bedroom and called Olivia. We gushed together and imagined my name with his last name last night. 

I opened my car door so Mom did, too. I marched right upstairs to my room and waited for Matt to text me. At six o’clock sharp Matt texted. We chatted for a bit and decided another walk around the lake was in order.

The next morning, I went to the playground and took my place on the little, black swing. Matt came cycling up, twenty minutes late. I was disheartened, but dismounted and met him with a hug. He smelled different: sweaty, worn out, and unclean. I was shocked and felt self conscious in my freshly washed hair, lotioned legs, and face full of makeup. We began walking, but he wasn’t too talkative. He mumbled a few apologies and I existed in disappointed silence. We walked to the pond and got to our bench. I took a seat next to him, my heart pounding fast. I could tell something was wrong.

“I need to tell you something,” Matt told his feet. I looked over at him and approached it with as much openness as I could. “I have had a crush on Olivia for the past year,” he told me. My heart dropped to my stomach as I racked my brain for advice on what to do. I grew cold and heartbroken. 

“What?” I croaked out. I felt the tears threatening to fall. 

“I’ve had feelings for Olivia for the past year. I’m sorry. I just felt like you should know,” Matt told me. This time, his brown eyes, filled with tears, managed to meet mine. 

“I don’t think we should be together, then,” I responded.

“Why?” asked a heartbroken Matt.

“Because, I am not going to play second fiddle to anyone. Least of all my best friend,” I declared and stood up. My tone was no longer flirtatiously high pitched. It rumbled as loudly as thunder. On shaky legs I began walking away. I grew faster with each step until I was practically running away from the boy on the bench. 

I told Olivia. She was shocked. She sent me comforting messages declaring Matthew was a fool. I told her through tears, “But I thought he really liked me. And I liked him.” 

“He can like you and still be in love with me, sweetheart,” she responded. My heart filled with resentment. I spent my days listening to sad love songs while swinging at the park in the vain hope that he might come over and surprise me. I concocted this daydream that Matt would suddenly cycle up to me and wrap me in his arms, telling me that he hated Olivia and only loved me. I spent my nights crying into my pillow. Once all the tears were cried out, I’d sit gazing out the window wondering if he’d ever toss rocks at it in the rain. Days faded into a week and with it so did my hope. Two weeks on the dot after he told me the devastating truth, my phone went off. My heart pounded as fast as it could. I gazed at the white ceiling and prayed that it was Matt. With shaking hands, I turned over my phone and saw one of the longest texts I have ever received:

“Darling Samantha,

I want to begin by telling you what an utter fool I have been. I want you to know how much I loved our time together. Your laughter is music to my ears. I am enamored with you. I have found myself utterly devastated by what I told you. I should have had the decency to tell you how I felt sooner. I should have told you how much you mean to me. I should have called your name as you were walking away. I know I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life by letting you walk away.

I hope you know that any and all feelings for Olivia have now long since passed. I let my ego get in the way of falling in love. I always knew she and I would never be a happy couple. I know she would never understand my humor the way you do. All I can do is hope and pray that you will find it in your heart to give me another chance. I will spend my days earning your trust and love back. Please consider coming back to me. 

All my love,


I sat, stunned on the couch. He had said everything I could have ever wanted to hear. I immediately called Olivia who demanded I send over what was said. She took a bit to text me, but after a few minutes she said: “Oh, sweetheart. He texted me that exact same thing. Just switched our names…” I sat back on the couch as tears filled my eyes and all the old wounds he had inflicted burst open in a fury. I breathed in deeply and texted Matt back.


I appreciate your kind words and I hope you will appreciate that I remain wary to trust them. I was devastated that day and I hope you know how much I genuinely liked you. You’d be wise to remember how close Olivia and I are. She said that you sent the exact same message to her, but switched our names. I hope you realize that was a truly callous move. I wish you the best of luck in the future



My heart was pounding in my ears as I contemplated my response. Slowly, I turned my phone over and began to cry. Matt didn’t text back after that. In the cruel light of the morning, I realized I never asked Olivia for proof of the messages she alleged that Matt sent. Our senior year, we were in a choir class together. I remember pondering if I could ever ask her. I wondered if she even remembered Matt or if she ever considered lying to me. Matt went on to achieve his dreams of becoming an engineer. I imagine he made some girl very happy with movie theater dates and long walks around the pond. I hope that she likes superhero movies.

May 27, 2022 23:25

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Bill Richter
06:47 Jun 03, 2022

Hi Amanda, Very well done! I think you did a great job of capturing the feelings of young love: the moments where one feels the possibility that something great could be happening in their lives, as well as the doubts that creep in so easily. As someone who doesn't enjoy superhero movies very much and had difficulties building relationships when I was that age, I could very much identify with Samantha. :) I also felt you captured the feelings that can happen when someone wants a relationship to succeed even when there is plenty of evidence ...


Amanda Lieser
04:16 Jun 17, 2022

Hi Bill! Thank you so much for the kind comment! It means the world to me that you identified with one of my characters because that is exactly what every author strives for! I know we initially met as part of the critique circles, but if you’d be open to keeping this exchange going, please reply with the title of another one of your pieces you’d like a comment on. Thanks again!


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Kate Winchester
02:38 May 30, 2022

Hi Amanda! I felt the journey that your characters were on as they tried to navigate young love with immaturity sprinkled in. Your story was a rollercoaster in a good way because it had twists I wasn’t expecting. When Matt and Samantha were in their relationship, you portray well how compromise is needed to make it work. I felt bad for Samantha when Matt broke her heart, yet at the same time, I was wondering if it was meant to be, even when he apologized. I think if Samantha had gotten back with Matt she’d always wonder if he still liked Oli...


Amanda Lieser
04:18 Jun 17, 2022

Hi Kate, Thank you so much for the kind words. I’ve really loved how people have had their own idea on the truth of the situation and I admittedly say that I don’t know the truth either. Thank you so much for the comment. I’m headed over to your page to gobble up another amazing piece now.


Kate Winchester
13:47 Jun 17, 2022

You’re welcome and thank you. I agree, it’s interesting to hear different ideas.


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Riel Rosehill
12:02 May 28, 2022

Hello Amanda! I love your take on young romances and just the variety of them you can come up with! They all feel so real and so different. I really liked the part when her mum talked to her, and everyone giving her all sorts of advice on how boys and relationships work, it gave very realistic feel to this story. Can I just say, I don't trust Olivia - super suspicious! But then, she was the one who introduced them... Oh, I don't know! This is why human relationships are overehelming. How do you know who is telling the truth?! Great job wit...


Amanda Lieser
03:54 Jun 17, 2022

Hi Ariel! Thank you so much for the kind comment! I love that you felt some of the conflict created for the MC. I absolutely wanted each reader to come away with their own version of the truth.


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