4 comments

Sad Speculative Teens & Young Adult

“Maria Lobell, it’s your turn,” a tall woman announced from the doorway. My hands gripped tighter to the satchel I was carrying. It’s now or never, I thought. I had been out of work for months, barely scraping by in dad's basement. 

The smiling lady held the door open as I stepped into the carpeted room. Three cries, that's it. No wonder this woman has such a high position here; she is strong. I tried to cover the floating number over my head, an embarrassing seven. Only three more days till January first, then a clean slate I reminded myself as I sat in a cushioned chair across from the interviewer. His graying hair was slightly receded, accentuating a wispy beard. 

“Hello,” he grumbled, flashing a forced smile. “Okay, Maria right?”

“Yup that's me,” I weakly chuckled before clearing my throat to meet his eyes. 

He licked his fingers before flipping through some papers- probably my application. 

“Okay, here it says you are 28. You have some college experience." The man continued to read aloud my personal information. I just nodded along. 

Finally he came to the end, turning his head to me. Just then I realized the room was awfully small. With the closed doors and windows, it all seemed to be getting smaller and smaller and smaller-

“Your application was great! You would be a great fit-” Just then his eyes trailed up to my cry count, which was hovering over my long black hair. “Actually, I am going to post the results after I have seen more people.”

For some reason I had a feeling I was not going to get a call back, given that I was the only one sitting out there with a job application. 

Embarrassed, I walked towards the exit, shoving my hands into my jacket pockets as the cold winter day sliced into my skin. 

I will not cry. Not today. 

* * *

Ten minutes to my home - I mean my dad's home - a red glint caught my eyes from the side of the road. Cars zoomed by, swirling hair into my face. 

Nearing the grass next to the busy street I could barely make out a slight cry of a little bird. A robin was lying helplessly on the grass, tweeting pathetically as the wind battered its small body. Straining my eyes I could barely make out a broken wing.

The small bird reminded me of my petite mother lying in a hospital bed months ago. She is gone now, no use wasting another cry over her. Five separate tear sheds have already covered the event. I couldn't save my mother, but I had the opportunity to help this little bird. 

Carefully I picked up the fragile creature, cradling it in my gloved hands. Cars continued to zoom past us, filling the air with loud roars. The little bird began to quiet down, its squeaks slowly coming to a stop. 

It does not hurt anymore- I started to cheer. 

No.

It was dead. Dead like my mother. I just sat there on the frosted grass staring at my hands, willing with all my might not to cry. The tears started to stream down anyway. Seven to eight. 

* * *

The frigid air engulfed my shivering body as I walked away from where I buried the robin. Hurriedly I wiped the tears away, ashamed at how I could do such a thing. It was just a bird, no reason worth crying, I thought as my feet pounded the sidewalk. I still had two more cries to spare, reaching ten was unfathomable.

Slowly I strode down the road, observing the many plants lining the way. Before I knew it, I was staring at an old woman sitting huddled in thin blankets. Her face was sunken, and she was holding up a cardboard sign that read, Homeless, Hungry, Hopeless. I stood there staring at the sad sight. 

I passed the homeless everyday, but it was different this time. This woman was old and frail. Instead of being with a caring family, she was here on the freezing roadside.  

The woman opened one eye, looking hopefully at me.

Nothing.

That is what I had. I was living off of my dad, so I could not help this lady who needed my help so badly. I was a failure. Not only was I not able to provide for my grown self, but I was now forced to walk past people so desperate. I would’ve given anything to have the resources to lend. 

My eyes started to water over the hopelessness of the situation. Eight to nine. 

* * *

Two days later:

It was Announcing-Day, where people were to be ranked by their strength throughout the whole year. 

People with the lowest crying count got prizes and money, while weaklings got… treatment. Thankfully I was only at nine, not ten. 

Names were announced and people stepped forward to retrieve their strength prizes, followed by a loud applause from the huge mandatory crowd. Then it was time for the weaklings to be announced. One by one names were read aloud. 

Aya Moss, Claire Polonsky, Markus Fisher… It went on and on. At the end, the announcer cleared his throat and thanked the listeners. Thankfully, my name was not on that list. 

Guards went into the crowds and singled out the weaklings, forcing them into a van. Screaming children, teenagers, 45 year old men, elderly, you name it. All of them were loaded up into a buzzing car filled with cries and exasperated yelps. 

This is not right, I knew. A single tear of sympathy slowly rode down my cheek, falling onto the concrete below. 

Nine to Ten. 

Before I knew it guards were coming at me. 

“NO!” I screamed. “It’s not my fault.” They exchanged glances and grabbed my wriggling arms. Nobody was coming to save me.

I was thrown into the loud bus, scraping my knees on the rough floor. My hands fumbled for the window. I stared out as the bus rolled off. The throng of strong people got smaller and smaller in the distance. 

Why did I have to cry? 

I guess I am not as strong as I thought. 

November 15, 2022 03:41

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4 comments

Kevin Marlow
01:21 Nov 20, 2022

I like how your story alludes to the fact that society values strength over emotional intelligence. We shouldn't have to pay a therapist $200.00 per hour to remind us to be compassionate to ourselves.

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Millie Hazen
16:45 Nov 20, 2022

Thank you! That was exactly what I was alluding to.

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15:11 Jan 27, 2023

What a sad/frightening/beautiful story. I'd be the first one carted off! This is very imaginative - but reminds me of the British 'stiff upper lip' soldier on. I'm a white American who was brought up NOT to express emotion openly - "Don't make a scene" which is SO wrong - other cultures cry, wail, scream . . . Very nice flow and build-up of suspense. I felt depressed that none of my stories has won or even been short-listed, but now I realize that part doesn't matter - xo

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Marty B
05:16 Nov 22, 2022

Interesting conceit! I would hope I could stay at just an 8 Ok maybe a 9 !!

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