Coming of Age Fiction Friendship

The sun has died for the two hundred and ninety-third time this year. The bloodstained sky leaves golden patches on the ground. The autumn leaves lie defeated there, but at least, they aren’t begging for color…they are soaked in golden. I’m sitting in the dry grass under the only oak tree in the graveyard, my thoughts escaping from the choking hold of life here in García. 

I wasn’t born here in this small Mexican village. I was born in the city’s laughter, but I was brought here to the dry tears of this village when I lost…the scraps of my sensibleness. I’m only 16 years old, and my annoying grandma had been grumbling about the aches of aging and the aches of being lonely. As her only granddaughter, and the best disgrace of the family, I decided to leave my house in the city and come here…, but it’s not only regret that now stings like weary promises—it’s my deficiency of maturity. I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t grow up. They all thought I would drive myself to somewhere great, but the only place I drove myself is this miserable town. I shouldn’t have ever come. 

“You’ve been here the whole day,” someone says. I turn around and descry a figure walking on the cobblestoned trail toward me. He’s got dark eyes, tan skin, and brown hair. He carries his youth in a fashion I wish I couldn’t know that well.

His eyes say it all: he’s trapped in a kid’s game.

“I’ve been here the entire month. What are you doing here?” I murmur. The sky overhead is nothing but a whisper of sunset. 

“I came to visit my dead mother,” he sits beside me. My messy hair is all over my face. He doesn’t know me. He can’t think I’m nothing but a child. “I’m Aaron, by the way.”

“I’m still not sure who I am. But you can call me Frida.” I say. 

“Like the painter?” 

“I like to think so, but since my parents don’t approve of art, I doubt it,” I say with an air of carelessness. I can’t say I care, but I can’t say I don’t care.

“And I’m guessing you love art,” he whispers.

“I don’t know what I love, Aaron,” he looks at me not with reproach but with wonder. “I’ve lived these last years with nothing but awe. Awe towards nature, awe towards adventure… I want to live amazed my whole life, but no one wants that, and admiring the view won’t get me anywhere. My parents say nothing should surprise me anymore, and it still surprises me that you’re still here without saying I should get a life.”

“Oh, I do think you have a life. I just don’t get why you spend the entire day in the graveyard.”

“My grandma sent me. She says I’ll find myself here, but I can’t. And if I’m not found, I was never truly lost.”

I gaze at the barrens that run over miles to the south where they only stop when they meet the green of the mountain slope. That’s the only green in this town. Where García starts, the world is colored sepia. The drought here shines. The barrens shine with moonlight. 

I want to be like the barrens. They have nothing and everything at the same time.

I already have nothing. I just have to find the idea of everything.

I look at him and realize I had never met anyone with such light.

I hesitate but say, “So…your mother? How long has she been gone?”   

“Long enough. She never really was here, you know. She’s been gone long enough for me to forget she was even in my life. She just left when I was young and never came back. This was her tree. It’s damn sad, but don’t feel sorry. You’ve got enough to cry for.”

“What would I’d be crying for?” I ask. That should never be a question if my age aches enough for me to cry about it. “And why is this her tree?”

“Your last name is Romero, isn’t it? You’ve got relatives all around here buried—”

“Oh, really? So that’s why Grandma wanted me to come—”

But in his sadness, he said, “It was her tree because my father told me she buried something under it. I just don’t know what, nor do I want to, actually.”

I stand up. My weary overalls are covered in mud. “Show me where my family is buried. Please.” Something makes me want to get to know them. Their blood is my blood. My helplessness might be helped by their helplessness as dead people…but they must have left something. I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t think my grandma is insane. She must be sending me here for a reason.

I know I haven’t grown up. I know I probably never will. I know I only long for adventures and paintings of nature. I know they say I wasted what I’ve been given.

He stands and leads the way back to the rows of graves and after some minutes he stops. He stands before an old gravestone with a cross on top of it that reads “Guadalupe Romero 1895-1965” in almost illegible handwriting. What I notice, though, is the little tree inscribed above the name. I crouch and look closer.

Leaves of poetry is written in small handwriting in one of the tree’s branches. 

I start looking around for other gravestones with my last name inscribed on them. They all have the little tree inscribed upon them.

I look at Aaron. He noticed it too.

We run back through the cobblestoned trail to the tree in the far end. In the moonlight, its branches look like the claws of a monster. I know I will find something. I know my eyes have just been opened into the starry sky. I’ve never felt lost if I have never felt the need to be found. 

“Your mom,” I say to Aaron once we’re under the tree’s stare again, “…did she have the little tree on her gravestone?”

“I don’t think so,” he says and takes out a lighted match. He hands it over to me, and while I hold it to the trunk of the tree, I see it.

“Look,” I say, beaming to Aaron. There are words carved on the tree, barely visible to the clouded eye, but my eye is not clouded anymore. He lights another match, and we see it all…

Thousands of verses of poems written on the trunk in minuscule handwriting…with paints of all colors.

We find poems of all Romeros, and even of Aaron’s mother. 

That’s the place where her secrets were buried. That’s the place where all secrets are buried…in poems. 

And as I was going to write in the tree to continue with the tradition, I looked into the barrens and knew what I could be.

I could be the barrens. I had everything and nothing. I could be everything I wanted, and I could also allow myself to be nothing but myself. Nature outpaces me, but I will follow the barrens and just... write.

I would cry poetry for the rest of my life.

With a friend. 

April 24, 2021 03:31

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Arwen Dove
20:19 Apr 25, 2021

This is such a beautiful story! I especially love: 'The autumn leaves lie defeated there, but at least, they aren’t begging for color…they are soaked in golden.' It such a captivating description! Can't wait to read more of your stories!


Nadya Garza
23:22 Apr 25, 2021

Oh, thank you so much! It means a lot.


Arwen Dove
00:21 Apr 26, 2021



Ed .
00:36 Apr 26, 2021

WOW! that is such an amazing story. Quite emotional to. Well done!


Nadya Garza
00:55 Apr 26, 2021

Thank you!!


Ed .
01:32 Apr 26, 2021

No thank you for writing that fantastic story keep it up! :)


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23:30 Apr 29, 2021

I had everything and nothing. I could be everything I wanted, and I could also allow myself to be nothing but myself. That is a powerful statement. If more people could actually live like that, There would be less depression as people could live and be themselves. Wonderful.


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