Hidden Demons

Submitted into Contest #92 in response to: End your story with a truth coming to light.... view prompt


Coming of Age Friendship Sad

Trigger warning: suicide

“Morning champ! Time to get up.” Will’s mom called from behind his closed door. He pried open his sticky eyes but found only sweet darkness. Just a few more minutes. His eyes were heavy from lack of sleep so he felt around blindly for his phone. It was buried in the covers next to him where he discarded it after another late night. Will moaned as he pulled the covers over his head. I don’t think I can face another day. Thoughts of homework, chores and responsibilities ricocheted in his mind. I just want to stay in all day. 

“William, let’s go! You can’t be late again.” His mom chided, opening the door and flicking on the bright light. He let out a long moan of distaste, finding his mood darkened with the brightness. “You are almost sixteen, so stop acting like a child and get yourself ready for school. I already have breakfast ready but I think you can handle getting yourself dressed.” Will buried himself further into his covers, willing her to leave and forget him. His mother sighed then walked towards him. In a warning voice she said, “Ok, but if your friends hear about your mother dressing you you might- “ Will shot out of his covers before she could reach him.

“Okay, okay,” Will mumbled, squinting in the bright light. “Geez,” he mumbled. His mom smirked and left his room. Will slowly pulled his body out of bed and went to prepare for the day as if his limbs were full of sand. When he went to get his phone he saw the low battery sign and swore. Another shitty day coming up, he thought. 

Sulking into the kitchen there was a bowl of oatmeal waiting for him on the counter. “Ugh oatmeal? Can’t we have like, Frosted Flakes or Pop Tarts like regular people?” His mom turned from the sink where she was cleaning and rolled her eyes. “No, you need real food,” she scolded. Everyone eats what they want, why can’t I? He thought as he brought the bowl to the table and moved the mush around. Why can’t I ever get what I want?

“Will, don’t forget to take the trash out before you leave and you need to walk Buddy after school,” his mom said but before he could figure out an excuse, a small girl bounded into the kitchen and grabbed the other bowl of oatmeal. 

“Yum! Oatmeal!” She smiled and sat down across from Will. “What’s got you so pissy?” She said before stuffing a giant spoonful of oatmeal into her mouth. 

“You’re too cheerful for this early. Something’s wrong with you,” Will replied.

“Maybe if you took better care of yourself, you wouldn’t feel so shitty,” she said through a full mouth, raising her brows before adding another spoonful to her mouth.

“Lily, smaller bites and don’t talk with your mouth full,” their mom yelled from the kitchen. 

 “Thorry,” Lily tried to say through her oatmeal and then swallowed audibly. Will stopped his smile from forming at the cartoonish sound. Instead he gave her a smirk, so she stuck her tongue out at him, he shot back with his middle finger. 

“William!” Their mom yelled as she came to the table. “Stop patronizing your sister!” 

Lily gave him a grin which made his temper spike. With his mom sitting right there, he only slumped into his chair and continued to move his mush. Will put his headphones in and put his hood up wishing he could disappear. I just want to get out of here.


“William! Pay attention,” Will’s English teacher reprimanded him and his head shot up, his hood sliding off. He had put his head on his desk to rest his eyes. It was only a few seconds, Will thought to himself. 

“Sorry,” he mumbled, stuffing a yawn. The rest of the class giggled and he flushed, wanting to sink into the ground. He turned and saw Liam shaking his head at him. The teacher had resumed her lesson so he whispered, “Shut up, it’s not like this stuff is useful.”

Liam kept his eyes on the teacher as he whispered back, “It is if you want to get into a good university.” 

“That’s your future, not mine,” Will replied.

Liam’s gaze shot to Will then back before Will could decipher the odd expression. Before he could ask, his phone buzzed. 

Will, you forgot the trash again! 

Remember to take Buddy out tonight. 

If you don’t do your chores you won’t

 get your allowance.

He felt a weight press on his shoulders with school applications coming up, exams, labs and now more chores. 

I can’t, Liam asked me to

 hang out after school today

 He paused before adding:

We’re going to go over notes

 then school applications

He waited for her scolding but she merely wrote: 

Okay. Say hi to Liam for me. And be home before 10.

He smirked then looked over to Liam, “Hey, can I come over after school today? I need a night of chilling.”

Liam slightly shook his head, then conceded. “Yeah, a night of chilling sounds great.”


“You have it so easy, you know that?” Will said as their fingers moved like spiders over their controllers. “The big house, the best food. Parents who let you do anything.” Will shot a grenade over a wall in their game. “Ha! Boom, sucker!”

Liam glanced over at his friend. “My life isn’t all that,” he said before taking a sip of his soda.

Will nodded to the drink. “I certainly can’t have soda or any of this junk food at my house.” He spread his arms to display the many wrappers of processed mini cakes, twinkies and various junk food. “I never get to splurge like this at home.”

The next game started and Will honed in on his character. “At least you get home cooked family meals,” Liam muttered.

“What was that?” Will asked, slightly turning his head while not taking his eyes off the tv.

“Nothing,” replied Liam joining Will in the game. 

“I’m telling you man, you’ve got it made. You do great in school without even trying, you’re basically set for any school. You don’t have any chores. You’ve got it made!”

Liam simply kept gaming.

A couple hours later the front door opened to a beautiful middle aged woman. “Hey boys,” she said, taking off her sunglasses and putting them down on the foyer table with her car keys. “What trouble have you guys been getting into?”

“Hiya Mrs. Rickson!” Will said leaning over the back of the couch to wave. “You’re looking great!”

“Well thanks, Will. There’s some more food in the pantry if you guys want. And you can order some pizza for dinner. There’s money in the drawer. I’ll be out with some friends tonight, Jessie will be here in a couple hours to pick me up so the place will be yours.”

Will turned to Liam and said, “Sweet! Pizza!” But Liam was staring at the foyer table. “Earth to Liam,” Will joked but Liam still didn’t move. Will looked between Liam and the keys sitting on the table then punched Liam on the shoulder which finally jostled him out of his daze. “Dreaming of driving off and never coming back?” Will chuckled.

Liam gave a half-hearted chuckle back, “Yeah, something like that.” Both boys turned back to the gaming system again. 


Pizza boxes and more junk food wrappers piled high before Will started getting ready to go home. “Man, you are so lucky to have an Xbox. I wish my parents were like yours. Maybe I could move in with you.” 

Liam paused before turning to Will, “Why don’t you take it?”

“Take what?” Asked Will putting his jacket on.

“My Xbox,” Liam said, walking back into the living room. He came back with the Xbox and controllers in hand. “I rarely use it anymore anyways. You’ll get more use out of it than I will.”

“Seriously?” Will stood there dumbfounded. He smiled as he imagined his time at home not so depressing. “Thanks man! Mom’s been telling me I would have to save up for one. I seriously needed a pick-me up today.”

Liam got the Xbox packed up in a bag with the controllers and packed the games in another bag. As Will headed for the door, Liam put his hand on Will’s shoulder and said, “Enjoy the games.” He took an awkward pause and looked Will in the eyes. “You’re an amazing guy, Will. Please don’t ever forget that, and … try to be happy.”

“Sure man,” he chuckled. Liam stepped forward and gave his friend a hug. After an awkward second Will returned it as he said confused, “Whatever you say, Liam.” He stepped out of his friend’s embrace and they did their complicated ‘cool guy’ handshake before he turned and walked out the door.


Will woke to a beam of sunlight in his face. He had his new Xbox set up and the controller was still in his bed but he had thankfully turned off the tv before falling asleep. He turned over and checked the time. “Shit! I’m late!” Will got dressed quickly and raced down to the kitchen where his mom sat bent over at the kitchen table. “Mom! Why didn’t you wake me up?” He stopped when he saw his mom turn teary eyes towards him. “Mom, what’s wrong?” He looked around. “Is dad ok?” 

His mom gave a stiff nod, “Yes, he got home late last night from his work trip. He’s still asleep.”

Will looked at her confused. “Then what’s wrong?”

His mom gestured to the seat next to her, “You should sit down, Will.”

“But I’m already late for school.” Every other morning she was rushing him out the door.

“Will… Liam… took his own life last night,” His mom’s expression scrunched up as more tears fell. “He started his mom’s car in the garage… they didn’t get to him in time.”

Will stood there frozen. “What? No… no I just saw him last night, he was fine. Happy even.” 

“Will, I am so sorry….” His mom began, standing up to give him a hug. He jerked back like she slapped him.

“No! No, I don’t believe you.” Will was shaking his head, refusing to let any of her words through to his heart. “He has the perfect life … all his money and freedom. His parents… his house. He wouldn’t do that.”

“Will... I don’t think his life was as perfect as you think. Liam’s parents are getting divorced for one thing.” His mom was so sure that this happened. Will felt a crack in his heart. “His family wasn’t very close, and he was usually ignored and left alone a lot. I know that it’s easy to look at someone’s life and think it’s better… but everyone has struggles, even if they hide it.” Will refused to let reality in, he kept shaking his head as the crack in his heart spread. His mom continued, “Sometimes people have some dark in them… dark thoughts.” His mom wrapped her arms around herself holding back more tears. “Some inner demons that slowly tear them apart… Some people are very good at hiding that darkness…. And… sometimes... that darkness wins.” 

Tears filled Will’s eyes but they didn’t fall. “No,” he mumbled stubbornly. “I just saw him last night… there’s been a mistake.” His mom stepped forward and gave him a hug as the tears spilled over. “No,” he sobbed, “… no, it’s not real.” His legs gave out and he sank to the ground with his mom, her arms tightly wrapped around her son as his heart shattered.



Will sat down heavily next to the tombstone. “So, you were right about taking better care of myself. Less junk and more sleep changes everything. Guess I should've listened to you. And my mom, huh.”

He pulled open the letter that Liam had left him a year earlier. “I’ve been doing what you asked. Even got a stupid gratitude journal. We used to laugh at that crap…. But it’s been working. Even the shitty days aren’t as shitty.” Will glanced at his friend’s grave. “Except they’d be less shitty if you were still here.” He released a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “I wish you had let me know. Maybe we could have fought this together. I know I wasn’t always there for you. I never thought you needed me. But… we could’ve fought this one together.” 

Will wiped the tears forming from his eyes and took another deep breath. “You won’t believe it,” he said more cheerily. I got into NYU! Can you believe they accepted me? Ha! I know they might regret that later. I know it was your school of choice, so I’ll try to live up to your expectations…”

Will sat next to his long gone friend and talked about all the good in his life that he didn’t appreciate before. He eventually got up and said, “I'll keep fighting demons for you.” He did their ‘super cool guy' handshake against the rough stone before walking off with the bright sun shining down on him. A particularly bright beam lit up the grave behind him, illuminating the now full gratitude journal Will left for Liam.

May 07, 2021 18:46

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Kate Winchester
18:04 May 12, 2021

This is heartbreaking but sheds an important light on the misconceptions of depression. I really felt for the characters and liked how Will came to appreciate what he had. Great job!


Alyson Ackman
17:41 May 13, 2021

Thank you so much! Any suggestions for improvement?


Kate Winchester
18:51 May 13, 2021

No problem 😉 Lol, I can’t think of any critiques except if it weren’t a short story contest, it would be cool to get more knowledge of Liam even though we get the idea of what his home life is like.


Alyson Ackman
15:25 May 14, 2021

Sweet thanks! Yeah I didn't want to delve too much into Liam's life since I wanted the readers to focus on Will and his troubles just he was doing with himself. Thanks for the comments :)


Kate Winchester
15:39 May 14, 2021

You’re welcome. Yeah, that makes sense. 😄


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Mila Van Niekerk
14:01 May 11, 2021

I'm not kidding, I'm crying actual tears right now, my eyes are WET. This was an awesome story!! I love it so much. At first I thought it was going to be Will to ... ya know,,, but then it was Liam and even though I'd only known him for a few paragraphs he was already my favorite character and and now.... All I know is that one day, when you publish your stories (if you want to, that is. But I think you should, they're super good!) you'll have all your fangirls and fanboys and fanbys (I just made that up) screaming and crying and writhing i...


Alyson Ackman
16:35 May 11, 2021

Hey Mila, Thanks for your support! I would love to one day be good enough to publish but just practicing for now :) If you have any suggestions on how I can be better let me know :P Would love to keep making people cry


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T.H. Sherlock
12:30 May 10, 2021

This is absolutely heartbreaking. And you convey a really strong message too... It reminds me of the quote 'Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about'. It's so true! I was so swept along with the story that I completely forgot about the trigger warning at the beginning. Excellent writing. The only thing which jarred slightly for me was the mention of Susie at the end of the piece. I know that the point is to show that Will's life was always much better than he'd realised, but it might have been nice to see an allusion ...


Alyson Ackman
17:06 May 10, 2021

Thanks! It was a tough topic but I think a necessary one to bring up. That quote was exactly what I was going for! Originally I wanted Will to show what most people think depression looks like but he came out more cheery than planned. I was almost upset putting the warning since it's almost foreshadowing but I am glad you got caught up in the story :) Thank you for the Suzie comment - I actually went back and mixed it up. I was originally trying to widen their world but thank you for letting mw know it was too jarring. Thank you for you...


T.H. Sherlock
21:00 May 12, 2021

I think you definitely succeeded in showing how we shouldn’t make simplistic presumptions about what ‘depression’ is and this certainly came across through your writing. The story stayed with me all day after I read it. :)


Alyson Ackman
14:52 May 13, 2021

That is awesome, thank you so much for telling me :)


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Alyson Ackman
18:47 May 07, 2021

**Need to edit it again- the texts formatting on my docs looks good but it's off in this format.


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