As a teenager, I realized growing up wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, cliche; I know. It wasn’t so much the work that bothered me but more so, the deep, overwhelming, bitter feeling of loneliness, it crept up on me when I least expected it, and that included the safest place a person can be, their own home. I still remember the moment it happened. Though, admittedly, it is a bit of a blur. Bits and pieces remain of the memory. I think the mind works that way; it chooses what it wants to remember. And often, what remains of painful experiences is only fragments of the damage that was done, like a sticky, syrupy sweet liquid that lingers in the back of your throat. However, I’ll never forget the pit I felt when I heard those words. The air that was sucked out of my lungs and the scream that would soon follow.
I heard the phone ringing. Not mine, my mother's. I tried not to think anything of it, but deep inside me, anxiety was bubbling up. I heard my mother talking to someone. I couldn’t hear the conversation; she had locked herself in the bathroom. I waited in my room as a lump was forming in the back of my throat. I nervously fiddled with my bed comforters as an attempt to ease my anxiety. The colorful pink flower print fabric glistened as I ran it across my fingertips. Eventually, after about 10 or so minutes, I guess the exact time doesn’t really matter. My curiosity overtook me, and I rose from the bed. I couldn't quite explain it, even to this day, but some unknown force pulled me to her. I walked over to the bathroom and tried to listen in on the conversation. It was quiet. The white door to the bathroom slowly opened, and I saw my mother, phone in hand, just staring blankly.
“It’s not good--” She held her head down as if she was trying to shield the secret from me. Her black curly hair covered her face and her white pajamas hung delicately onto her petite figure. What I was wearing at the time is a blur, but for the sake of giving an image, let’s say I was wearing pajamas too. However, what I do remember is the date and time it happened. It was a Friday, a Friday night. 6 PM on a Friday, to be exact.
“What’s not good?” I already knew the answer.
She looked at me with dark amber eyes. Behind her calm maple almond windows, there was a black hole.
“I can’t tell you-” She finally gasped. She held her hand to her mouth.
Even though I already knew the answer, I needed to hear her say it.
“Mom, just tell me what happened.” I cooed as an attempt to ease her nerves.
Her hand lowered, and she took in a shaky deep breath.
“Your dad---” She was losing her grip now.
My breath froze as I braced myself for the answer.
But my mind was rushing a mile a minute.
“He will recover.”
I told myself.
“You talked to him on the phone just yesterday.”
Trying to confirm my original thought.
“--- He’s dead.”
My mom finally croaked out, shattering the fantasy in my head.
Mentally, I thought I had prepared for this.
In truth, the thought of him actually passing away had never crossed my mind. I always made up excuses, but in this one moment, the only thought I had was sheer terror.
“Wh--” I tried to say, but the words came out like a soundless puff of hot air.
My heart plummeted, and I stood there, observing my reality instead of living it.
Then came the scream-
“Why...WHY?!” was the only thing I could ask. I knew my mom didn’t have an answer. The words spilled like a bleeding wound, out upon their own accord.
“I’m so sorry, honey...” She reached out her snake-like arms in an attempt to comfort me.
I pushed her away.
“It’s not fair.” I thought to myself.
“Why did he have to die?”
“It has to be a mistake,”
“He can’t be dead.”
“He can’t be…”
As if to cut off my thought pattern, she tried to hug me again.
I gasped, trying to catch my sporadic breath.
My mom looked at me with a twinge of pain in her eyes.
I’ve never yelled at her before.
“Okay.” Her arms lowered in defeat, and a bubble of tears formed in her eyes.
The tears weren’t for my dad.
Letting out a sigh, I turned my back to her.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick. I wanted to do everything but just stand there like some statue.
But I couldn't--
I shot her an icy glare.
In truth, I was bitter with her,
for leaving him…
I walked outside to try to gather some fresh air.
Faintly, I could hear the birds singing in the background. What were they singing for?
The cars zoomed by like distorted rainbows.
My breath, scattered, like a jet engine crash landing.
The watercolor orange sun peeked behind the desolate city buildings like a sunset in the African Savanna.
People walked, where were they walking too?
The cool autumn breeze caressed my skin.
I didn't shiver.
A couple was going out to eat.
A man was celebrating his promotion at work.
Another heading to work.
I was alone.
I reached for my phone in my pocket.
I wanted to text my boyfriend.
Well, an ex-boyfriend. He broke up with me a week prior.
No, that wasn't what I wanted to say.
“My dad just died.”
“How are you?”
I waited anxiously for a response.
It never came.
I blankly looked at my phone screen.
All I saw was my shadow.
And for the first time in my life, I truly wept.
There is something positive to get out of all this, though.
It didn’t happen on a Monday.
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Welcome to Reedsy and congrats on your first submission! I’m pretty new too and so far everyone has been really supportive so I hope you find the same ^^ The moment she finds out about her father’s passing really hit home with me, especially the part about thinking you prepared yourself for it— I had a family member pass last year and felt the exact same way. One note I might give you (I’ve been honing in on it in my own work so I’m seeing it everywhere haha) is to be aware of & edit out filter words (see, feel, etc) and emotion words (a...
Thanks for the feedback on my work. I really appreciate it Miss Kris :) Also welcome to Reedsy!! I will be sure to read one of your submissions soon. c:
I like your short and sweet sentences. The ending was so touching. I love this story. Please keep writing. Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks.
Thank you for the compliment :) I am glad you enjoyed the story. I will be sure to check out one of yours soon.
Welcome! :) Thanks!
Hey Jessica, a very relatable piece as I too have lost my father and had a similar walk through a crowded street, observing. It's a rare moment of complete presence when you are shocked and stunned, numbed, but something so devastating and unexpected. And the same with trying to send a text message, trying to add start the conversation without 'my dad just died'. I feel you could have ended the story at 'wept' as those last few sentences, short and succinct, for me, had an element of slowing the pace to the point where I could visualise...
I am sorry to hear about your father passing away. Death is never something easy. I will be sure to check out one of your stories soon. I Really appreciate you taking the time to read my work. Take care of yourself, Mrs.Marczan :)
You are welcome, and thank you. Haha Mrs Marczan sounds pretty serious! Vanessa is cool, ness is also cool.
Hi Jessica! I really liked your story. I think Creative Nonfiction is one of my favorite genres because it is unequivocally real, which is exactly what your story is real. I think your biggest need of revision is in when the protagonist finds out about their dad's death. The dialogue is absolutely wonderful, but I would have loved to read more of the internal dialogue- the hope being crushed, the flipping emotions, and the eventual acceptance that what was heard was true. I think this will help you nail down the feelings of aloneness tha...
I think those are really great suggestions! I appreciate you taking the time to read my story. :) I will be sure to give a review to one of your stories soon. I wish you luck!
FWIW, the line about the cars zooming by like distorted rainbows was one of my faves.
I think you have real talent as a writer. Your story flowed really well. I especially loved the last line, "It didn’t happen on a Monday." So heartbreaking. I don't have much critique, sorry, I think previous comments covered a lot of the mistakes. Just one thing I noticed, though, was this line: "Eventually, after about 10 or so minutes, I guess the exact time doesn’t really matter. My curiosity overtook me, and I rose from the bed." These sentences are a bit strange to me. The "eventually" at the beginning doesn't really work...
Thank you so much for the compliment, I truly appreciate it. I will work with that sentence a bit more just for it's clearer. Thank you for the feedback, Carson :) I will be sure to read one of your stories soon.
Thank you and nice work again!
It’s the little things, eh? I want to echo P Jean’s comment – there are some images and phrases here which might sound nice but are in fact a little bit confusing. To her list I would add: - “All I felt was a bittersweet nothing.” – How is this moment bittersweet? Also, you’ve already established that she’s feeling bitter. Some other lines I felt were a little off: - “My breath froze as if I was trying to brace myself for the answer.” Isn’t the MC actually bracing themselves? No need for as if. Try “My breath froze as I braced mysel...
Thank you for the in-depth analysis :) A lot of your points are super helpful. Your advice is greatly appreciated. I didn't even notice I do "as if" a bit too much. Looking it over, you're completely right. I will be sure to review a story of yours soon.
On the whole a good story. I enjoyed the read. I am not a published writer but decades of reading. These lines did not work for me, the associations felt unrelated. ..... The cars zoomed, like distorted rainbows. My breath, scattered, like a jet engine crash landing. The watercolor orange sun peeked behind the desolate city buildings like I was in the African Savanna. ....just a thought ! Keep writing!
Thanks for reading through my work Jean :) I really appreciate it. I will work on the lines you suggested. I appreciate the feedback.
Please don’t be distraught about my comments. Sometimes my thoughts are best kept to myself....the cars zoomed, their lights like a distorted rainbow? Or was the colors of the cars themselves the rainbow? This is what I meant. City buildings in my mind didn’t gel with my mind’s imaging of an open African savanna. So my comments were not just blurted out, I thought about what worked. Hey just ignore me. Keep writing!
I'm not distraught, Jean. I appreciate the feedback and you taking the time to read my work. Don't feel bad! :) Someone else mentioned they didn't understand those lines either, so your feedback is valid. I think you're a real sweetheart to worry about it. But there's nothing to worry about. I appreciate the honesty so don't feel bad about the comments. I'll review one of your works as well. Warm regards
I can relate to this. My grandpa died of cancer. I said goodbye to him and prepared my mind but my mind blacked out when I heard his death. I was like "No way, I talked with him and saw him breathing...he was alive." It was like the whole world got some error and stopped going on. It is always terrible, although we KNOW that no one lives forever. You described the horror, sadness and the tensity it so wonderfully that my memory of the day revived and my breath stopped. You made the sentence short and started a new paragraph after every sente...
I'm sorry to hear about your Grandfather passing away. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for you. I think it was brave of you to share that life experience. You sound like a really wise person. Thank you for the writing advice as well as the compliments, I really appreciate it :) I'll be sure to return the favor to one of your pieces.
Gahhhh this story really hits hard for me right now. I love the whole theme you created, as well as your title. I mean, that's a really creative title. And then that ending? It was so minimalistic, but that just pushed the creativity and emotions forward!
" It wasn’t so much the work that bothered me but more so, the deep, overwhelming, bitter feeling of loneliness, it crept up on me when I least expected it, and that included the safest place a person can be, their own home." Is this deliberately running on? I would put a period after loneliness. "I waited in my room as a lump was forming in the back of my throat." I'd get rid of was like this, "I waited in my room as a lump formed in the back of my throat." "Eventually, after about 10 or so minutes, I guess the exact time doesn’t re...
Thank you for reading through my work. I really appreciate it. A lot of your points are valid and I will be sure to work through the suggestions you supplied. I do agree with working on some of the sentences. However, when it comes to adding stuff, since it's a memoir, I can't really do that . Unless I go the Kurt Vonnegut route. Anyway, I will be sure to review one of your works soon. Your advice was extremely helpful and I appreciate it :)
Should have looked at the creative non-fiction tag. I treated it as pure fiction, where everything is the whim of the author.
I may make it a work of pure fiction later on. So I appreciate your feedback :)
I have enjoyed your story, especially the language.
Thanks for reading my story! Glad you enjoyed it :)
I have enjoyed your story, especially the language.
It's a good story. Very detailed feelings and scenery, nice work.
Thank you, Miles :)
This was a well written and heartbreaking story. I was engrosed in it from beginning to end😊 My heart really goes out to your MC. It's hard losing a parent. The ending definitely surprised me. I wasn't expecting a joke at the end of such a sad story, lol, but it does a nice job of easing some of the tension in your buildup at the end. I have a few points of constructive criticism that can help you make your story shine with a bit of editing. I hope you don't mind my pointing them out: 1. "I can’t quite explain it". The can't should b...
Thank you so much for the thorough review!!! :3 I really appreciate you taking the time to look it over. I will have to return the favor to you, Miss Young :) I will be sure to apply the changes you suggested. Super Helpful!!!
You're welcome Jessica😊❤
Hi Jessica, interesting story. Writing from the first person viewpoint is always difficult because it is so easy to mix tenses, some parts of your story are in the present and others are in the past. It's a common mistake for us newbies. The ending was a surprise, it gives a little light-heartedness to an otherwise sad story. I did see, or do see, quite a few niggling issues. I hope you don't mind my pointing out a few of them. (Keep in mind I'm no professional at writing or editing.) - "If I was given a remote, I could use to press fa...
Hey, thanks for the thorough advice! I really appreciate it. I had a feeling some parts sounded off. I'll be sure to return the favor :)
;w;.Very creative story.It sounds like a nice poem!