Sad Coming of Age

I turn over in bed and stare at the fox music box on my nightstand. The front has a fox’s head with a big tail behind it. Intricate designs are around the fox and on top of the box is my name etched. I grab the box and sit up, lifting the top of it. Inside are my black beaded bracelet, my dad’s golden watch, a photo of my dad when he was a child and a sapphire pendant. I fish the photo of my dad and take a closer look at it. He has the same features as I had when I was a child. I remember the day Dad gave me this music box. 

“Tom, I want to give you this,” my dad said in the morning. I looked at him curiously and he drew out a box. 

“Here,” he said, giving me the box. I carefully hold the box in place when I open it. There is a little compartment that can hold things such as jewelry and other stuff. 

“Thank you, dad,” I said, hugging him.

I put the box back on the nightstand and decide to go to the kitchen. It’s 12:30 pm so instead of eating breakfast, I eat lunch. I go to the fridge and take out the leftover pizza from Pizza Hut yesterday. While heating the two slices of pizza, I make myself some herbal tea. I debate whether to drink chamomile or peppermint. I chose chamomile since it has a mellow taste than peppermint. As I heat up the water in my electric kettle, the savory smell of pizza fills the kitchen. I take the plate from the microwave and walk towards the table where my laptop is at. I eat a piece of pizza and feel my stomach rumble. What a healthy lunch, am I right?

As I keep eating, I think about my unhealthy sleeping routine. It really annoys me how some days I get a good night's sleep while other nights, I don’t. Just last night, I stayed up until 4 am and woke up at 8 am. Yikes. I have some melatonin in the medicine cabinet, but I don’t believe I need it. The reason why is because of my electronic devices. I’m so addicted to them that I stay up all night to watch videos or movies.

When the kettle turns off, I pour the burbling, scalding water inside my mug which already has the tea bag. Steam hits my face and I smell the faint aroma of chamomile. I bob the tea bag while walking to the table. After setting my mug on the coaster, I open my laptop to see my background. An orange fox standing proudly with orange and red sparks behind it. It’s pretty, not gonna lie. I tap on Chrome and type in the search bar “How to sleep well.”

Tons of websites appear and I immediately click on the first one. A bright web page appears with the name ‘blissfulsleep.com.’ I sigh, amused by the website’s name. I scroll down to find the first step. 

“Stick to a sleep schedule,” I murmur, “If you are an adult, you need 8 hours of sleep.” Well, I’m screwed. 

“2nd step, eat right.” I glance at my pizza for a second. Moving on.

“3rd step, limit daytime naps.” I bite the underside of my thumbnail. I do take naps but not all the time. Not much of a loss.

“4th step, manage worries.” Well, that’s hard due to the fact I get anxious all the time. Just yesterday, I got anxious while reading my book for some apparent reason. I mean, that’s the reason why I get anxious. For no reason at all. 

I sip my tea, feeling the hot liquid touch my throat. 

“Last step, exercise often.” 

I sigh with dismay. 

“What’s the point?” I say, closing my laptop. I lay my chin on the palm of my hand, staring at the crack on the wall. I sneer. 


Before going to bed, I decide to read my book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I make myself comfortable on the couch before jumping into the reading. I squint my eyes, scanning each sentence. The words drift off the page as I momentarily think about the music box. I want to hear the sweet melody once more. I turn my book flat on the armrest and quickly run to my room. The orangey hue from the light engulfs the room as I walk to the box. I pick it up and raise it to eye level. Thoughts of Dad suddenly flood in. 

“Son, it’s ok to cry sometimes. That doesn’t mean you’re weak. If you ever need to confide in someone, come to me or just write in a journal. I do that sometimes when I have a lot in my mind.” 

I open the music box and turn the key on the back. The melody plays and it soothes me. All the worries that I had recently began to dissipate. When the music stops, I turn the key clockwise to hear it again. I miss you, Mom and Dad. I set the music box down after the music stops, and look at it one last time. A smile appears on my lips as I return to the couch. I read about two pages since that is all I can read. After I slide the book back on the shelf where it belonged, I walk to my room to get ready for sleep. I pull the covers up my face and close my eyes. I should sleep well tonight. 


I make the effort to get groceries from Walmart, so I take a quick shower and slip into some suitable clothes. I take my list and grocery bags before heading to the driveway. I put the grocery bags in the car's trunk before entering the front seat. I back out of the driveway slowly and head straight to Walmart. It takes about 15 minutes when I arrive there and the whole lot is filled with cars. My god, I’m not even in Costco. I steer right and onward to the lot where I see people driving their carts to their cars. I pull into a vacant parking spot near the Walmart Grocery entrance. I step outside my car and walk towards the trunk. After I take my bags out, I close the trunk and set the alarm on my car. As I am walking to the entrance, I see many people come out of the entrance such as women in yoga pants, men with their wives, and families. I enter the Walmart, seeing the carts on the left side. I pull out a cart and throw my bags inside it, before heading to the store. The first thing I notice is the produce and bakery section(which is in the back) on the left and on the right, shelves stacked with chips and beer. I veer my cart to the produce section to get some fruit. I stop beside the bananas and get some, putting them in a plastic bag I drew out before. When I’m done with the produce, I make my way to the middle aisles, where most of the things I need are there. Ragu sauce, foil paper, Dawn, enchilada sauce, and much more. After putting the sponges in the cart, I walk alongside the open fridge aisle and grab some eggs and butter. I also get some milk, creamer, and cream cheese over yonder. 

“That's it,” I say, looking at my crossed-out list. As I begin to go to the checkout aisle, I catch my eye on something besides me. 


I check the books, noticing how tacky they look. I mean it is Walmart, not Staples. However, I find a journal that is black bound with an elastic closure and two strips of bookmarks. I take the elastic off and open the book. The pages are bright white and dotted with symmetrical dots. Must be a bullet journal. I nod my head in approval as I add the book to the cart. When I reach the checkout, it’s packed. I breathe in and out, calming myself down. Luckily, I find an available self-checkout. I park my cart beside the checkout machine and begin to scan my items. After scanning the last item, I insert my card, which takes about 2 seconds for the machine to register, and the receipt prints out. I take the receipt and exit Walmart. 

“Man, I’m craving coffee right now,” I say when I reach my car. After loading the groceries in the back, I hop inside my car taking off the cover from the windshield. (It’s like the Sahara desert right now.) I back out of my parking spot and drive towards the Starbucks which is only a couple of miles from here. When I arrive at the drive-thru, which is empty, I hear a female squeaky voice take my order. 

“I would like a Venti Blonde Vanilla Latte,” I say. 

“Ok, anything else?” 

“No, that'll be it.” 

“That’ll be $5.45, see you at the window.” 

I drive along the narrow road toward the drive-thru. When I get there, I wait for about 1 minute before a girl slides the window. I notice right away that she was the girl who took my order. She looks like someone who would have a squeaky voice. A black cap covers her head and red wisps of hair dangle out of it. Her cheeks are dotted with freckles and her eyes are hazel. 

“Hello, that will be $5.45.” 

I give her my credit card which she takes. After she swipes it at the holder, she gives it back to me. Subsequently, she gives me my coffee. 

“Thank you, have a nice day!” 

“You too!” 

I leave the drive-thru, heading home. 


It’s 8:30 pm, from what my digital alarm clock says. I have my Huckleberry book in my hand which is opened to page 73. I look across and see my journal on the bed. I left it there after putting the groceries in the fridge and cupboards. I reach across and take it, feeling its texture of it. I take my pen, which is sitting on my nightstand, and close my eyes. After opening them, I put my book aside and focus my attention on my journal. I open the first page which makes me afraid. It’s like a painter looking at a blank canvas afraid that they will make a mistake. However, I begin to write. 

Dear Journal, 

It’s pretty weird writing my feelings on paper but my late Dad said that if I needed to express myself, I go to I would go to him or write in a journal. Well, the first option is out of the question. So I went to the second option. You know, the thing that I feel right now is loneliness and resentment. I have no one to talk to anymore because I don’t really talk a lot to people. I mean, I want to make friends but what’s the point? Where How can I do that? I should’ve made friends during grade school but I was shy and thought what’s the point? Either way, I resent myself for that. 

I think I became lonely when Dad died. I felt a part of me was lost. Mom was still alive when he died and she was heart-stricken. The whole family was. Could you imagine losing someone you loved? Nah you wouldn’t. You’re a notebook. You have no feelings. 

It was the last straw for me when Mom died. It was out of shock, I thought but they said she took an overdose. Suicide then. I think suicide is more heartbreaking than dying out of shock. To think she took her own life because Dad died. She must’ve thought, what’s the point of living if the love of my life is not here? Sigh. I’m crying right now. Some tear droplets are on the page, sorry about that. Man, I’m saying sorry to a journal. You know, Dad was right. Expressing yourself does help a lot. Anyways, I’m going to stop right now, my hand is getting tired. Thank you for hearing what I had to say. 


My cheeks are smeared with tears. “It’s not fair.” 

August 07, 2022 05:26

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Michał Przywara
02:14 Sep 27, 2022

Sometimes we don't know what we need until we see it, like in this case. The narrator wasn't sure what caused his anxiety, but there's always a reason, even if we don't know it. Turns out his father's advice was just what he needed. Journaling, writing stuff down... It has a weird power, where it can take the emotional sting out of something, doesn't it? It might not fix problems, but it makes them more manageable.


Calm Shark
02:18 Sep 27, 2022

That's true. Thanks for stopping by!


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Jeannette Miller
15:15 Aug 13, 2022

Ah, the melancholy...my favorite. Journaling is something I used to do consistently but have gotten away from recently and this story reminds me of why it was so important and why I need to get back to it. Thanks :)


Calm Shark
16:57 Aug 13, 2022

I also journal a lot which partly inspired this story. Thank you for reading my story! I'm glad this story reminded you to go back to journaling. :)


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Kendall Defoe
21:14 Aug 12, 2022

This was heartbreaking...and recognizable. We all tried or try different things to improve ourselves if we feel stuck (last three years have been proof enough of this), and your story hit home with me (esp. the part with the stationery - I find myself still buying notebooks at dollar stores if I am out and have nothing to write on). Just be careful with some of your spelling (eg. in the first paragraph: 'dad' or 'Dad' - you switch between them). Excellent tale well told, my dear beast of the sea! ;)


Calm Shark
22:11 Aug 12, 2022

Thanks for letting me know! I've been hitting deep into these stories all of a sudden.


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