What They Have Died For

Submitted into Contest #164 in response to: Write a story about coming of age in a big city.... view prompt


Coming of Age Contemporary Romance

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

Where I came from, there were no growling cars or hissing factories. The lights buzzed but they didn't showcase the blue, pink, purple splendor of the colourful lights here. There were stars in the sky, winking and blinking at me with the confidence of a thousand suns. Nonetheless, that was where I was, and I am more a fan of living in the present.

There were always different stories of everyone's coming of age, some said it happened when you were twelve, others say fifteen and yet many say eighteen. I came of age at the ripe age of twenty-one, when the veil of blissfully soft lace that covered my eyes was ripped away none too gently as I stared at my bank account balance in sheer dread. There was a quaint little jingle of a notification that came from my phone, my mother's message stared me in the face for a while. I couldn't help but to puff out a breath of air composed of the pure element of wretched disbelief.

"My dear daughter, you decided to quit you job since it was not making you happy, and therefore we will never be supplying you with money again." the message read, ever so proudly, on my screen and only then did my situation dawn on me like the rising of the sun, I was completely broke.


Twenty-one was a harsh age to grow into being me as quickly and as disturbing as I did. It was not like I planned to be a bum for the rest of my life, mooching off my parents, no, I had dreams and plans. It was only then that I realized that I did nothing but let the agonizing weight of my mind's relentless whispers to, for lack of softer terms, cease to exist, weigh on my entire being.

I couldn't quite explain to my parents that my mental health was on the smellier side of dog shit though, and my anxiety turns out to be a great motivator to keep me stranded in one place rather miserably. I was always too scared to move, too scared to stay still and so I ended up standing still and tormenting myself over it. I admit that quitting my job was a hasty decision, the people were nice, everyone was nice, but the quarrels and the rush, I could not keep up and as I fell behind, I fell far.

I ended up asking myself, 'What was a coming of age?' I drew blanks except the obvious that it was becoming more mature and self-sustainable, but that definition didn't seem right to me. The truth of the matter was that I was unhappy, I have been unhappy for a little over a decade and I couldn't stand it anymore, I was so sick and tired of the icky feeling that'd crawl out of my mind and down my arms and legs to glue me into place as I watched others move, as I watched my friends leave me behind. I have plans, I have plans, I have plans... to be happy. Yet I was stuck, and no one could help me if I didn't want to help myself, and for a long while, too long of a while, I did not want to help myself.

Then I came of age. I came of age messily, with tears rolling down my face, snot being caught in my mouth, the prominent cracking of my heart and tearing of my mind. I came of age with the joints of my unused limbs popping like fireworks, I came of age in the disaster of my mental death, the death that warned me to run for my happiness, not to wait for it. I did not mature in the way that people tend to say you should, I was immature until I started wanting better for myself, until I thought that I deserved better. The truth was that my mental health would probably always have my head spinning and spiraling as if I am airborne and freefalling with zero control and I had to decide that I wanted my dreams more, that I wanted my happiness more.

So, I crawled, because no one starts out walking or running. I fumbled, I stumbled, I crumbled, and I remade myself, because creation doesn't always start from nothing. Sometimes creation starts from the destruction of something, like how withered plants and decayed animals help plants to grow and organisms to live. I vaguely went through the cycle of life and evolved as I grew. Stardust fell from my lips as the shine in my eyes grew and glowed brighter. I wasn't sure if I would make it, I wasn't sure if I could make it. Hell, some days I stayed on the ground longer, listless and dim, flickering like a firefly close to life, close to death. For in life there is death and in death there is life.

At first, the city chewed me up and spit me out like curdled cheese. Nothing good ever came easy. I lost my wallet, I lost my phone, I lost my apartments and none of my business ideas kept afloat, perhaps that was because they weren't what I really wanted to be doing. Finally, I got a job in a flower shop, and it became the most peaceful occurrence in my life, I had no idea that it was only the beginning.

People say that you are a product of your upbringing, I didn't really believe that until I realize that you as a person never stopped growing, that where you have been, where you are and where you are going will all eventually become factors that help to raise you, you never truly stop growing until you stop yourself from being open to change. I am a product of my upbringing. My parents began my nurturing and the people around me helped me to progress. Everyone was like an aspect of nature and just like nature, no one was all sunshine and rainbows, still, they helped me grow, the city was no different.

From rude customers that were like thunderstorms, to polite coworkers who were like a warm spring day, I just never thought that the one to impact me the most would be a homeless woman I had bought a meal for and sat and chatted with. Of course, I was skeptical and unsure of interacting with her at first, my prejudice kept me uneasy and judgmental, but my sympathy moved me more. I was homeless before too; luck was just on my side at those times.

As I sat on the bench along with the lady, slurping up my mint chocolate shake quietly, swinging my legs that barely grazed the floor if I pointed my toes, my mind wandered to cosmos great and far, whimsical and near. The lady ate quietly, and the silence was companionable.

"How old are you?" she whispered, frail voice catching on the 'd' of old and 'a' of are, effectively breaking off the sounds of the letters.


"Very young. Do you have a dream?"

"I do... I'm not sure I can achieve it though."

"Listen to me, you've got to be bigger than the self-doubt and bad thoughts. You're still growing and twenty-one is so young. Many of your ancestors have died, despite what others may say, it was for the happiness of the generations after them, that's what they died for, their freedom and you. The roof isn't too far, reach for the stars and fly, chase your happiness and dance with it, that is coming of age, fighting for what you want and believe in. If your dream doesn't make your heart palpitate and ache with the prospect of possibility, what will?" the lady spoke with a soft tone that carried like a breeze, caressing fevered skin and coaxing it to calm down. I was in awe and for the first time in a while, my heart burned and reached a fever pitch.

"I... thank you." was all that I could say as the lady smiled at me.

"Ah, and now you have come of age. Your eyes have regained their sparkle of dream, like fresh honey, topsoil and molten chocolate. It's just the beginning."

September 22, 2022 20:12

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22:36 Sep 22, 2022

Absolutely spectacular!


Ash Universe
01:35 Sep 23, 2022

Thank youuu


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