Coming of Age Contemporary Sad

It’s all about survival.

There is nothing else.

I am under siege.

People are animals and the world is a harsh and cruel place. Here I am in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people. Worse still, I don’t know what to do about it. I cannot escape, so I keep building my survival strategy. It’s the only way.

It is Monday. I am awake early, but that is not to say that I am up early. I lay awake in my bed and try to keep as still as it is possible to be. I cannot hear them. Not yet, but I know that I will. Sometimes I lay and listen intently and try to read the sounds of the house, whilst using a force of will to wish those sounds away. No sound is a good thing. I want them gone. Other times, I zone out. I am very good at zoning out from the world, but there is a problem with that.

I am left alone with my thoughts.

My thoughts swim around in my head and they wait for me to come along, knowing that they will find me in the end. They always, always do. They are patient and they are insistent and there are many of them. They populate my dreams and turn them into nightmares. I do not sleep well and I am constantly tired. I do not tell anyone this though. I try my utmost not to tell anyone anything about me. Oh, I talk to them and I often find it easy to find the words that I must say, but I do so without giving any of myself away. I am too precious for that. I am different to them and they can never know just how different I am and what it is that I am doing.

They are up now. I hear them lumbering about and it fills me with dread. I don’t even try to imagine them in their room, but I see them all the same. I do not know what takes them so much time from the commencement of their loud and clumsy movements to the point at which they exit their room and head downstairs. I’ve learnt the story of their movements though and at the point I know they will exit their room I curl up and feign sleep.

There is a knock on the door and the female orders me to get up. I move a little and make some grunting noises as though I have been disturbed from the midst of a very deep sleep. This usually does the trick, and today is no exception. I have forty four minutes to myself now. Forty four blissful minutes where I am not in their terrible sphere of existence. 

It has taken me a long time to get to this timing and the routines that fill those minutes. A great deal of pained trial and error. Any more than forty four minutes and the time is dangerously close to an hour and then I am in trouble, and I really do not want that. Forty four minutes is the most I can eek out of this part of the day, and I now go through my routines making sure there is nothing missed. In the past I have forgotten to attend to my hair and there has been hell to pay. My toothbrush has been inspected and found to be far too worn, the bristles bent out of shape due to my overzealous and determined brushing as I count down the seconds. I had to find something else to fill the three minutes I shaved off my brushing time so that I did not lose my optimum time away from the both of them.

I count the toilet paper squares out. I tear them one by one to ensure I use the maximum allowed. They have never stipulated the exact number, only growled at me for using far too much paper in one sitting, so again I trialled it and made errors until they shut up and moved on to something else that they could have a go at me for. Once upon a time, I thought that I could make them shut up and then leave me alone. I see I have more work to do before I ever get near to that state of affairs. They may be dumb and lumbering, but they are also relentless in their meaningless griping and this frustrates me no end.

Showers used to be a chore. Then I realised that I can spend a great deal of time in the shower. They like the shower because it means I am clean. I like it because it cocoons me in a shroud of noisy water and I can almost trick myself into believing that I am elsewhere. Then there is the additional protection of the shower cubicle and the door to the bathroom. All of these things afford me temporary protection and the illusion that I am OK. That I am safe after all.

I dress. At weekends I take a little more time selecting my outfit. I wear a lot of black, but I know I cannot wear all black because this is something that winds them up. What they don’t know is that the amount of black that I wear winds them up all the same, but they haven’t gotten around to pulling me up on it, so I am winning this battle. For now. It is all about winning for them, but also for me. Even more so for me. I am right and they are all wrong. 

My choreography is timed almost to perfection. But I do not allow myself to fall prey to too much self-congratulation, there is always room for improvement and they are a random factor that I am still learning to control. Time. These things take time and a great deal of timing.

I sit at the foot of the stairs and I tie my boots. I count in my head as I do so. I have the count of one hundred and sixty five that I can do my boots in. The counting drowns out some of what I am about to face. It affords me a temporary reprieve. It is a countdown to today’s initial confrontation. 

I try not to listen for them now. I know that they are there, beyond the door that stands ominously before me. Lurking and circling as they await my arrival. It has ever been so, these people are creatures of habit. I watch them and I learn their ways and in doing so I further develop my survival techniques and the strategy that will see me victorious and out of here. 

They cannot ever know what I think, what I do, or who I am. That would mean that the game was up and I would have a mountain to climb in order to win. It is difficult enough as it is. I do not want to make it any harder or any more painful. As it is, it hurts all of the time and I cannot imagine what I would feel like if I were ever to lose to them. I enter the room with my head bent and my eyes down. I can see plenty like this and they mistake this as deferential and a lack of confidence. It is quite the opposite and I am already up on points right from the start of this dreadful interaction.

I greet them with a perfunctory word. Today I say “morning” and I say it brightly. They have pulled me up on my manners and this has included the intonation and volume of the words I afford them. They say it costs me nothing to be polite. If only they knew! It cost me much, but I will never allow them to see that. I can control that and I am doing my best to extend my control in this world of theirs. I will eventually win the day. I can see that now. It is all about my outthinking them. Reading them and working out how I can play their game then switch it subtly and gradually towards my own game, until I am playing them.

More trial and error, only I am getting better at this and my errors are subtle. The errors and setbacks sting me, but they notice them less and less. It’s a long game, but I am winning. I just need to keep my wits about me and if they do find a way to attack me, then I will deflect it as best I can, and if they corner me then I will fight. 

They have never, ever won a fight. 

Oh, they think they have, but only because I indulge them and let them think that they have won. I discovered a long time ago that if I can think it hard enough and often enough then my thoughts eventually become real. This is a power that I discovered that not only helps me survive them, it is allowing me to prevail. It doesn’t matter what they say or what they do, I can outthink them. I think what I need to think until the right thoughts come along and then I invoke those thoughts. I cast a thought spell and I give just the right words to the thoughts, chanting them over and over and over until the world recedes and all that is left are those words. I do this until I don’t remember anything else. All I remember is being angry and winning. I won. They were wrong. 

They are all, always wrong.

Eating is good. I don’t have to speak when I eat. They’ve told me not to do that often enough. I’ve noticed that I enjoy the respite that eating gives me so much so that eating now excites me and as a result I eat far more quickly than I ever have. I go into a sort of trance, and then the food is gone and I don’t quite know how that happened. Still, they are lumpen beasts and they plod through their own eating and they don’t bother me while they graze, so I have some much needed time to myself.

Filling my bag is another useful activity. If I am doing things, then I am less conspicuous to them. In doing things, and convincing them that I am doing them the way they want me to, I provide them the illusion that I belong here and that seems to satisfy them and lull them into a state where I have more scope to do as I please. 

Now I am ready.

And they are not.

This part is horrible. I have not learnt how to control these few minutes yet, so I take my seat and I wait it out. I act like am being good and try not to do anything that stands out. I make the smallest target possible and I hope that they do not talk to me, worse still ask me questions. I am adept at using the words that they have given me and playing them back to them. I mostly know what to say and what to do, but they still sometimes manage to put me on the spot.


They ask me about me.

I’ve not worked out how to win that one. 


I hate it when they question me and who I am. I hate it with a vengeance and the anger roils up in an instant. The anger is my protection though and it always goes badly for them when they dare to challenge me. Then I do my thought work. The anger helps with this. The anger is cloaked in denial and I forget most of it very easily now. It all goes away and I am left with my own thoughts. My thoughts of victory and how I am always, always right.


The female has spoken. So I nod and I rise out of my chair and pick up my bag. I follow her from the room and out towards my next adventure. This next adventure is not going to be easy, none of it is, but my strategies work better here and I have plenty of time where I can sit and zone out and not be bothered by anyone at all. If someone does bother me, I have ways of making them go away and most of them leave me well alone after that. I keep a few of them close. I know how to do that. I mirror them and I’ve found there is much currency in one of their smiles. Having a few of them close creates a buffer from the rest of them. It’s a case of choosing carefully and well, and then I’m OK, at least for a while anyway.

She, the female, puts me in her car and drives me away. When we stop she smiles at me. I don’t know why she bothers with the smile, it is a lie. That is all that they do is lie, and that is why I have to be careful and think and think and think. I can never stop thinking. The game is up if I ever stop harnessing my thoughts and using them in my defence.

I get out of the car.

“Have a good day at school! Love you!” says the female who refers to herself as my mother. 

I slam the door on her and I hope that is the last I see of her. I know that this is a waste of a wish, but given time and a lot of thought, anything and everything is possible.

October 08, 2022 13:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Anouar Amali
15:01 Oct 20, 2022

Love it!


Jed Cope
15:26 Oct 20, 2022

Good stuff! That's lovely to hear! What in particular did you love about it?


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rabab Zaidi
14:46 Oct 15, 2022

Sad .


Jed Cope
21:25 Oct 15, 2022

Is that a good thing though?


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply