Sad Coming of Age Contemporary

This story contains sensitive content

*Trigger warning*

Please be advised, the following content contains some mentioning of death of loved ones, substance abuse, and the struggling with mental health.


“Alright, here’s the last of the boxes. I got to head to work, I ended up picking up a shift today. Are you going to be alright until I get back, Sam?” Drew asks as she places the last big cardboard box filled with memories down by the apartment door, her warm brown eyes filled with concern for her friend. Samantha tucks a strand of her naturally ice blonde hair behind her ear, looks up from the current box she was looking through, and forces herself to smile. “Yeah, Thanks Drew.” 

“Make yourself at home and call me if you need anything.” Drew winks as she grabs her apron and purse on her way out the door. 

Sam looks around the small apartment she will now be sharing with Drew. 

She kept having to remind herself that moving in with Drew doesn’t make her anyone less than who she has always been. That it’s okay to ask for help when you are in dire need of it, but she hates feeling like a burden. 

Sam makes her way to the last box Drew brought in and reaches into it, picking up the old family photo album with bits of dust still settled on the sides of the pages. 

She takes a breath and slowly opens up the photo album that causes the pages to crackle in response. 

The images of her grandparents stare back at her, their smiles frozen in time. 

They were the sweetest grandparents anyone could ever have and just by looking at this picture one could tell how much they loved each other. 

Pressed violet and buttercup flowers border the first few pages. 

Seeing them makes her remember holding one of those yellow flowers up under her chin, remembering that if you saw yellow underneath your chin it meant you liked butter. 

Images of her mother, father, herself, and her younger brother, Emerson, look back at her on the next page. 

The effortless smile that would come to her mothers lips, to the opposite approach of her father’s grimace and cold dark eyes. Emerson’s cheeky baby grin, and her own half smile stares back.  

They didn’t have much money growing up. 

Her father would go from one factory to the next while her mother would work as a housemaid part-time when she and her brother were at school. 

Her parents had eventually split apart, so she and Emerson would often spend time with their grandparents after school until their mother would pick them up. Their father wasn’t in the picture much after her parents had split apart. He remarried to his mistress and created a new family of his own, leaving them in the past. 

Much like their parents, her brother and her slowly drifted apart as they grew up. He would often be found among the popular kids in school, while she would often be found by herself with a book. Reading about other worldly places wishing she too could open her wardrobe and enter into an adventurous land where animals could talk. 

Sam hasn’t heard from her brother for at least a decade now. Last she heard he was engaged and working for some high end corporate technology company, living the life, wanting nothing to do with her. 

Sam has never enjoyed taking, being in, or looking at photographs. 

All they make her remember is the pain and grief that comes with looking into the past, that she’d rather not maintain in her present or her future. 

For some reason unbeknownst to her she continues looking through the album and comes to the page that has her, her now deceased husband Harry, holding their baby boy, Mason, fresh from her womb at the hospital. They were so happy then. High on life, like nothing else in the world could go wrong. They had believed then that they had finally hit that point in their lives where they were no longer living in the past and were ready to start anew with their son. They had just bought a house in a safe suburb outside of the city. He was a history professor at the local community college and she was a thriving artist focusing on painting with mixed media. She remembers she had painted her son's nursery like a safari. 

Sadly, they didn’t have much luck soon after. 

Not even a month after that picture had been taken, her husband and son had been in a car accident and there was nothing that the team in the emergency room could do to save them. 

A large part of Sam had died that day. 

Any glimmer of hope of happiness she had once had for the future was gone as quickly as it had come. 

Sam wipes away the tears that come when she taps into that part of her life. 

She has come a long way since then. 

For, soon after that dreadful event she had little want to live, so she would feed her body by way of alcohol and narcotics. Trying to numb the pain with a depressant and anti-pain meds was definitely not the best way to go about it, but she hadn’t cared any more at that point. She wouldn’t dare pick up a paint brush as well, terrified as to what would come out of her as a result. She was scared to allow herself to fully embrace the overwhelming bouts of emotional pain.

She went on that way for about four years… 

It took Drew, her best friend constantly checking up on her to get her the help she needed. 

She spent two years in rehab, but even now after just getting out, sometimes she still has those thoughts and firmly believes they will never entirely go away. She is the only one who can allow them to control her or to rise above them and try to keep on living a life she can maybe one day be proud of. 

Sighing, Sam closes the photo album and places it gently back into the box. 

Turning away from it, she makes her way to her room and begins unpacking her art supplies. 

From her easel, oil paints, turpentine, palette, to the brushes she has kept for all these years that her late husband had bought her one year for her birthday. She opens the bedroom window letting in the crisp Autumn air, strips the plastic away from an already prepped 12x12 white canvas, places it on the now unfolded easel, and begins covering the white with an array of bright happy colors. Her brush strokes take on a nature of their own and soon enough begins forming a field of buttercups and violets with a small child holding a buttercup he had picked up under his chin. 

Sam finishes up and exhales a breath she had been holding in. 

The tears that had been brewing in the corners of her eyes now began to flow like a stream down her cheeks and she found herself smiling to herself. 

No longer afraid to accept what she so deeply feels down to the core of her soul;

A deep longing for a different life than the one that has been delivered to her like a piece of burnt toast with a bite already taken out of it settled on a small chipped plate.

November 14, 2021 20:52

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


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.