Creative Nonfiction Contemporary Teens & Young Adult

“It’s Mine, you can’t have it!” Mary had always been an avid collector. As a child, she had kept every toy, every book, and every trinket that came her way. As she grew older, her collecting habits only grew stronger. She spent hours scouring thrift stores and garage sales, always on the lookout for the next treasure to add to her ever-growing collection.

At first, Mary's collecting was harmless. Her apartment was cluttered, but it was manageable. But as the years went by, Mary's collecting habits grew more extreme. She started hoarding everything from old newspapers to empty cans to broken furniture. Her apartment was filled to the brim with her collection, and there was hardly any room to walk.

Mary's friends and family tried to intervene, but she refused to listen. "It's mine," she would say. "You can't have it."

Mary's hoarding began to take a toll on her mental and physical health. She was constantly stressed and anxious, and her apartment was so cluttered that she had trouble finding her way around. But still, she refused to part with her collection.

One day, Mary's neighbor, Sarah, knocked on her door.

"Mary, it's me," Sarah called through the door. "Can I come in?"

Mary hesitated, but eventually, she unlocked the door and let Sarah in. Sarah gasped as she took in the cluttered apartment.

"Mary, what's going on here?" she asked.

"It's my collection," Mary said, her voice defensive. "I've been collecting for years."

"I know that," Sarah said. "But this isn't collecting anymore. It's hoarding. You can barely move around in here, Mary. It's not safe."

"It's mine," Mary said again. "You can't have it."

Sarah sighed. "I don't want it, Mary. I just want to help you. You need to get rid of some of this stuff. It's not healthy to live like this."

Mary shook her head. "I can't. It's too important to me. It's mine, and you can't have it."

Sarah realized that she wasn't going to get through to Mary. She left the apartment, feeling frustrated and worried. She knew that Mary needed help, but she didn't know how to convince her to get it.

A few weeks later, Sarah received a call from Mary's family. Mary had fallen and hurt herself in her cluttered apartment, and they were worried about her living alone. Sarah offered to help out, and she began to spend more time with Mary, trying to convince her to get rid of some of her things.

But Mary refused. "It's mine," she would say. "You can't have it."

Sarah didn't know what to do. She knew that Mary needed help, but she couldn't force her to get it. She tried talking to her, she tried offering to help sort through her things, but Mary was stubborn. She was convinced that everything she had collected was important and valuable, and she wasn't willing to part with any of it.

As the months went by, Mary's hoarding only grew worse. Her apartment became even more cluttered, and it was clear that she was struggling to take care of herself. Sarah worried about her constantly, but she didn't know how to help.

One day, Sarah received a call from the landlord. He told her that Mary's apartment was a fire hazard, and that he was going to have to evict her if she didn't clean it up. Sarah knew that this was the wake-up call that Mary needed.

She went to Mary's apartment and sat down with her.

"Mary, I know you don't want to get rid of your things," she said.

"But the landlord is going to evict you if you don't clean up. You can't live like this, it's not safe. Please, let me help you."

Mary looked at Sarah, tears in her eyes.

"I don't know if I can do it," she said. "It's so overwhelming. I've been collecting for so long, it's a part of me."

"I know it's hard," Sarah said, taking Mary's hand. "But you don't have to do it alone. I'll be here with you every step of the way. We'll do it together."

Mary hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "Okay," she said. "Let's do it."

Sarah and Mary spent the next few days sorting through Mary's collection. It was a difficult and emotional process, but Sarah was patient and gentle with Mary. They started with the easy things, like old magazines and empty cans, and slowly worked their way up to the more difficult items, like furniture and clothing.

As they worked, Mary began to realize that she didn't need all of these things to be happy. She had been holding onto them because they made her feel safe and secure, but she was starting to see that they were actually holding her back.

"It's okay to let go," Sarah said gently, as Mary hesitated over a pile of old dolls. "You don't need them anymore. They're just things."

Mary took a deep breath and nodded, then started putting the dolls into a donation box. It was hard, but it felt good to let go of the things that had been weighing her down for so long.

In the end, Sarah and Mary were able to clear out most of the clutter in Mary's apartment. It was still a little cluttered, but it was manageable now. Mary felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders, and she was grateful to Sarah for helping her.

"I never could have done it without you," Mary said, as they sat on the couch, drinking tea. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Sarah said, smiling. "I'm just glad I could help."

A few weeks later, Mary received a call from her landlord. He had inspected her apartment and was impressed with how much progress she had made. He told her that she could stay, as long as she continued to keep the apartment clean and clutter-free.

Mary was proud of herself. She knew that she still had a lot of work to do, but she was determined to keep going. She had learned that it was okay to let go of things, and that her worth wasn't tied up in the things she owned.

"It's not about the things," she said to Sarah, as they walked in the park. "It's about the memories and the experiences. Those are the things that really matter."

Sarah nodded. "You're right," she said. "And you're doing so well, Mary. I'm proud of you."

Mary smiled. "Thank you," she said. "I couldn't have done it without you."

Sarah and Mary continued to work together, clearing out the last of the clutter in Mary's apartment. It was a slow process, but they both knew that it was worth it. Mary felt lighter and more free than she had in years, and she was grateful for the support of her friend.

"It's mine, you can't have it," she had said, so many times. But now, she knew that it wasn't about the things. It was about the people she loved and the experiences she had. And that was something that no amount of clutter could ever take away.

February 15, 2023 17:23

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Mary Bendickson
01:43 Mar 17, 2023

Hoarding is such a difficult illness to deal with. If this is you so good to know you are doing better. I have been trying to help my sister for years. She is a beautiful person in so many ways. I wrote my first story here trying to put a more positive spin on her collection.


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Jerrine WIRE
21:39 Feb 22, 2023

I like more show than tell. I like scene descriptions and deeper dialogue. The bones of a good story are here to be developed.


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Viga Boland
00:35 Feb 18, 2023

Jewel…I just started to read this and realized you haven’t started your story, as per prompt requirement, with the sentence “It’s mine and you can’t have it.” Just letting you know as you still have time to edit your story before tomorrow. Hope you see this message. 🤞


Jewel Storm
00:40 Feb 19, 2023

Thank you 🫶🏻


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