36 comments

Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult Drama

Carly,


A couple of things--


  • As soon as you get home, make sure you feed your brother. Don’t give him anything with too much sugar in it or we’ll be dealing with him all night. I know he thinks he can handle a few cookies or one of those chocolate bars you sell for school, but we both know it doesn’t take much for him to turn into a Tasmanian devil.


  • Lock all the doors. That should have been #1. Make sure every single door is locked, even the one on top so that you can’t get in even if you have a key. I know you have to stand on a chair to lock the top one, but I’m okay with you standing on a chair to do that as long as you put the chair back when you’re done.


  • Your birthday gift came in from Grandma Jeanne so make sure you write her a ‘Thank you’ note. You’re ten-years-old now. Double digits. I know you’re short for your age, but that doesn’t mean you can keep thinking like a kid. There are things adults are expected to do and the sooner you learn to do those things, the better off you’ll be. I was already working at Grandpa’s store when I was your age putting away tools and helping people find the right kind of paint. He didn’t even pay me for it. I know you might not feel lucky all the time, but just remember that your mom was spending three hours a day in a hardware store after school and you get to come right home and focus on things like your homework and being a good student. I’m not saying you have a perfect life. Nobody does. So you have to find the things in life that you don’t mind so much and learn to enjoy them as best you can.


  • If the landlord comes by, do not let him in the house. If he asks if we got a cat, you tell him ‘No.’ I know it’s wrong to lie, but if you’re lying to a potato, it’s not so bad. Our landlord is a potato. He may look like a man, but trust me when I tell you, some men are just potatoes wearing pants. If he asks about the rent, tell him--through the door, remember, do not let him in--that your mother is working double shifts at two different jobs to try and get back on track, but that even when everybody’s hiring, a high school drop-out is still bottom of the barrel. Especially one with a bad attitude, and there’s no pretending I don’t have a bad attitude since we both know I do. That’s why I tell you all the time to try and roll your eyes less, because it’s one thing to think people are stupid and another to let them know that’s what you’re thinking.


  • Only call me at work if there’s an emergency. Your brother having one of his episodes is not an emergency. You’ve seen me handle those so I know you know what to do. Just put him in the bathtub and run the shower. I know he hates getting his clothes wet, but it’s the only way to calm him down. If I came running home every time he was having a fit, I’d never be able to hold down a job. If there is an emergency--like somebody breaking into the house or the power going out or something--you have to pretend to be a customer when you call. If I don’t answer, say that Liana was helping you before when you came in to buy a present for your mom and you just need to ask her a question. I know that’s another lie, but I work with nothing but potatoes, so it doesn’t matter. Whoever answers the phone is going to be a potato. I promise. If I answer, make sure it’s me first by saying ‘Hi, it’s Carly.’ Just in case.


  • If your Dad calls, go in the drawer next to my bedroom and pull out the piece of paper I have in there with the number on it. Read him the number exactly. Get it exactly right. Make sure you tell him you love him even though he doesn’t deserve to hear it. He’s the reason you have great teeth, and that’s not nothing. If you had my teeth, you’d need braces, and I can’t afford braces, so I’d probably just let you go through life looking like a bad fence on a nice lawn. Other than getting that piece of paper, I do not want you going in my bedroom. Not even to put some of that perfume of mine on that you like so much. I told you I’ll buy that for you when you turn fourteen. I know that patience isn’t a virtue of the young, but none of us have much to look forward to lately, so try looking at it that way. Oh, and if your Dad calls, be sure to listen hard for a woman’s voice in the background. If you hear one, I want you to tell me how old you think the woman might be or if you think she sounds smart or pretty. You do that and I might buy you that perfume when you’re thirteen. We’ll see.


  • I know this situation might get frustrating so I am allowing you to use one bad word a day anytime you feel overwhelmed. It cannot be within earshot of your brother. You are not allowed to use it at school under any circumstances. While I don’t care what the word is, try and use one that isn’t derogatory towards women. I don’t know want to know if you end up taking me up on this offer, but consider it a private agreement between you and me. Every mother ought to have at least one understanding with their daughter and this will be ours. (If I can give you some advice based on personal experience, screaming the “F” word into a pillow can be very satisfying. That’s the last thing I’m going to say on the matter.)


  • Underneath the hutch is a little envelope with twenty dollars in it just in case you want to order a pizza. You can order a pizza once a week, so really think about when you want to do that. You might think you want to order a pizza on Monday instead of having the leftover turkey chili in the fridge, but that means you’ll have to go all week not having pizza and you know you’re going to want it more on Friday when the week is up. Everything in life revolves around budgets, Carly. You budget your temptation just like you do your money, and if you don’t have any money, you gotta budget everything else even more. Good that you learn that now.


  • I want your homework done and on the table for me to check when I get home. Your brother’s better be right next to it. I’m not saying I’ll be able to know whether or not you got anything right, because the math they have you doing these days looks like a ransom note to me, but I’ll at least be able to tell if you two gave it a good effort. Bedtime is still nine pm for you and eight for your brother. If you need to bribe him at any point, offer to let him stay up until eight fifteen. He’ll hold up the world for that extra fifteen minutes. I have no idea why. Men are strange. Even the little ones. At least he’s not a potato. When you say your prayers before bed, be sure and say a prayer for me. You’re innocent, so your prayers go further. That’s just science.


  • I love you like crazy. I’m sorry things aren’t great. If I keep working the way I am, I’m bound to get promoted to assistant manager somewhere and then we can move into a better apartment and maybe get cable. You don’t make any trouble for me and I appreciate that. I know a lot of this isn’t fair, but at this point, I wouldn’t know what fair looked like if it was standing right in front of me with a name tag on. You and your brother are my two emeralds. The best part of my day is coming home to see you both sleeping safely in bed even when you leave the tv and all the lights on and I know the electric bill is going to be sky high. It’s because you feel better with the lights on. I get that. I used to sleep with the lights on too. I like knowing that you think lights are all you need to keep you protected in this world. If that were true, I’d let you turn on every light from here to the moon. One by one. Until darkness looked like somebody you haven’t seen in a long, long time.
August 26, 2022 20:49

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36 comments

Cadence Rager
01:09 Nov 23, 2022

I loved this story!!! GREAT WORK!!!

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Story Time
19:12 Nov 23, 2022

Thank you so much, Cadence.

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Chloe C
20:33 Sep 08, 2022

This was such an intresting read. It is such a sweet and touching note from a hard working mom.

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Story Time
22:15 Sep 08, 2022

Thank you so much, Clover.

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Sarah Parker
13:21 Sep 08, 2022

I love the format, it was a great way to get your point across without any dialogue. Also, I can't imagine having to do all of that at ten. I wish Carly good luck!

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Story Time
16:10 Sep 08, 2022

Thank you so much, Sarah.

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Ophelia Baker
22:20 Sep 07, 2022

Super relatable---the cursing part had me wheeze-laughing---and had great flow! Nice job.

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Story Time
16:11 Sep 08, 2022

Thank you, Ophelia.

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Havana Summer
20:01 Sep 05, 2022

This was so awesome and I enjoyed every bit of it. It was a format I haven't seen before and it was refreshing to read. Great job!

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Story Time
20:04 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you so much, Havana!

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Molly Sickle
16:48 Sep 05, 2022

Wow what an incredible story and an incredible way to tell it. I love the list format, it drives home the idea of responsibility home even further. Your ability to characterize the little girl without her saying even a word is masterful. Great job!

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Story Time
16:58 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you so much, Molly!

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Zoë Page
12:52 Sep 05, 2022

This was awesome! It's a perfect fit to the prompt, and makes you feel all the right things at all the right times. Without even writing about how Carly reacted to this, or how she felt, you could understand what she's going through, and really pity her. I know that when I was ten, this would've been far too much of a burden, and so my heart really goes out to this fictional family, and any real families suffering like this even more. I love the constant, use of the fact that men are odd, and how most men are potatoes. Strange, but it wor...

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Story Time
16:04 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

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Amanda Lieser
22:48 Sep 03, 2022

Hi Kevin! I agree with the other commenters that this story was so perfectly toned. My heart went out to that whole family. I really liked the bit about the landlord. I got lucky with mine when we had an apartment, but I understand it wasn’t typical to feel that way. I imagine this was a bit of a long note and more for the parent in a way rather than for a child. All the same, I loved it. Nice job!

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Story Time
00:56 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you, Amanda!

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Patrick Samuel
14:20 Sep 03, 2022

Wow, Kevin. You juggle so many tones in that story, between funny, sad, horrifying, sordid and sweet and that's just the first that come to mind. The mix of it all leaves a taste sweet, sour and spicy like the best Chinese food. This reads like something Morticia Addams would write if she had to assimilate into the real world and get by without calling on the dark arts. One sentence can take you through so many different emotions you don't know whether to be amused, sad or horrified. Favorite quotes (among many) "I know it’s wrong to lie,...

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Story Time
19:19 Sep 03, 2022

Thank you so much, Patrick. It was great spending time with a person who is unapologetically doing the best they can.

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Kathleen Fine
10:22 Sep 03, 2022

Funny and I felt for poor Carly at the same time! I love the format as well! Great job!

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Story Time
19:18 Sep 03, 2022

Thank you so much, Kathleen!

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Riel Rosehill
17:17 Sep 02, 2022

Poor Carly! She's got so many responsibilities and her mum is sharing so much with her despite her being only ten. No filter. Or, hard truths. I have sympathy for the mother though, especilly after the last bullet point. Love this format by the way! I've not seen a story told in a to do list before, it's fun :D

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Story Time
17:19 Sep 02, 2022

Thank you Riel! I have a soft spot for people with no filter. My mother doesn't really have one either.

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H L McQuaid
17:12 Aug 30, 2022

Funny, touching, and too true at points. "Some men are just potatoes in pants. " 😂 Being a latchkey kid myself, this brings back memories, though I didn't have younger siblings and mother did not write long notes. More like, she put $20 bill on the kitchen table and say 'you can have one friend over for pizza.' Great writing and thoroughly entertaining story!

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Story Time
18:10 Aug 30, 2022

Thank you so much, I appreciate it!

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Lily Finch
16:13 Aug 30, 2022

The I don’t know what to know - is the only thing I spotted as a potential error. I enjoyed that everything was no. 1. I thought that was so true of a list for a kid who is the oldest of a single mom in so many ways. Yes, she was a tad bit young. But nonetheless, it was funny, despite being a harsh truth, probably for many families out there. Thank you for the read, Kevin. LF6

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Story Time
16:35 Aug 30, 2022

Thank you, Lily! It was a challenge remembering what was expected of me at that age and how parents balance needing something from a child they want to stay a child.

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Lily Finch
17:13 Aug 30, 2022

Yes, I was one of three who was at the receiving end of many a parent note of chores that had to be done daily while my parents were at work. It was a drag, and I hated it. But as I understand it, many kids went through the same experience. LF6

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21:19 Aug 29, 2022

Hi Kevin, This is a really original way to explore a relationship. I like that everything on the list is number 1. You get across so much about the mother and the daughter without the reader "meeting" either of them. It's really clever. It's so telling when the mom asks the kid to listen for a woman if her dad calls, and try to say how old they are and if they sound pretty. That's one desperate and hurting mom. I spotted one point where you might be missing a word? You are allowed to use it at school under any circumstances.- should there...

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Story Time
22:28 Aug 29, 2022

Good catch! And thank you so much.

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Tommy Goround
20:11 Aug 28, 2022

Laughing at the numbers. Good flow.

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Story Time
05:37 Aug 29, 2022

Thank you so much, Tommy. Appreciate you always giving me a read.

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Tommy Goround
01:19 Sep 06, 2022

(The constant use of 1s reminded me of : parent writing in frenzy, parent with lower education, parent reiterating importantce like: safety / safety /safety. It gave the note a first draft bit of passion. I was laughing cause it was brilliant).

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Bradon L
21:19 Aug 26, 2022

What the heck Kevin?! This prompt just came out today, and you already cranked out this story! How do you do it? In all seriousness though, I liked that I was able to picture the daughter and her personality, even though she isn’t present in the story. The mothers instructions showed that her daughter was mature beyond her years in many ways, but the mom calling people she doesn’t like potatoes also shows her daughter still has a child like sense of humor. At least that’s how I see it. A very enjoyable read! “You budget your tempt...

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Story Time
21:45 Aug 26, 2022

Thank you, Bradon. My mother had it more together than this mother, but I was still a latchkey kid and when I saw the prompt, my mind immediately went to the notes my mom used to leave me. I always write quicker when I have a clear idea of what the structure of a piece is going to be, especially if it's an unconventional one. Glad you liked it.

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Tommy Goround
01:47 Sep 01, 2022

We probably should all be posting on fridays. There's 400 stories to read these days.

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Sarah Parker
13:21 Sep 08, 2022

I love the format, it was a great way to get your point across without any dialogue. Also, I can't imagine having to do all of that at ten. I wish Carly good luck!

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