Fiction Teens & Young Adult Friendship

Wrapped in my cozy Barbie pajamas, I let the whispers of sleep pull me into a world of dreams on our old couch. The soft, flowery smell of the fabric was like a hug from the past, a reminder of days when Sarah and I would play hide-and-seek and share little secrets that only sisters know.

In the quiet of the night, I could hear Mom and Dad murmuring behind their bedroom door. Their words were fuzzy, like listening underwater, but I caught bits and pieces. “It’s happening again,” Mom said, her voice all shaky. They were talking about Sarah, and I knew it.

I didn’t get why Mommy looked so worried, but I wanted to make her smile again, to tell her it would all be okay. Before they tucked me in, she kissed my forehead, and her eyes were all shiny, like when you’re trying not to cry. I told her maybe I could be like Sarah now, but she just hugged me tight and said, “No, baby, you’re just a little sick.”

Mom looked at me with her worried eyes, the kind that said a thousand words without making a sound. Daddy was all about being brave, saying I would be just fine. They didn’t want me to see Dr. Smith again cause his office smells like old socks, and he always has icy hands.

Mom’s always talking about the refinery, saying they’re up to no good with our water. That’s why she boils it until it dances in the pot. She thinks my fever’s just a little bug, like the ones that buzz around the porch light at night. If I wasn’t feeling all hot and icky, I’d be at school, trying to dodge the dodgeballs instead of lying here.

When she left, it felt like she left her worries hanging in the air like a storm cloud. Sarah was like sunshine, dancing and laughing and making everything better. But now she’s somewhere else, and we’re here, trying to figure out how to be happy without her.

Lying there, listening to the house creak and settle, I decided I had to be the strong one now. Sarah might’ve been the one who could dance like magic, but I’ve got my kind of magic—the kind that’s all about loving and hoping. And I believe, really believe, that one day we’ll all be dancing together again, filling up the house with giggles and joy, just like when Sarah was here.

Daddy’s voice floated through the room. He leaned over me, his eyes all serious and hopeful. “You’ll get better soon,” he said, his words like little paper boats sailing across my fevered dreams.

“We’ll fly kites together, you and me.”

I nodded, even though my head felt like a balloon filled with cotton candy. Daddy promised that he’d come home early and we’d pick out the brightest kite from the store. Maybe one with rainbow tails that would dance in the wind. And ice cream! Oh, the sweetest reward for being brave. Chocolate chip mint is my favorite.

I was still lying on the couch after my parents left for work. My cough sounded like Sarah’s before she went away. I decided to see Pookie Bear.

But I can’t just lie around all day. Sarah wouldn’t want that. She was the bravest person I knew, like a superhero without a cape. She’s not here anymore, but I can feel her, like she’s whispering, “You got this,” right in my ear.

The morning sun peeked through the curtains, painting the room in a warm, golden glow. I blinked away the sleepiness, still snuggled in my pajamas—the ones that made me feel like a princess. Even though I felt a bit wobbly, like a baby deer taking its first steps, I knew it was time to get up.

As I tiptoed into Sarah’s room, the soft melody of the music box greeted me like an old friend. It was a tune that had whispered secrets to me during countless sleepless nights. The little box sat on Sarah’s vanity, its delicate music box humming as it always did. And there, in the center of the box, stood the tiny ballerina—a dancer with a painted smile.

I really miss Sarah. She used to sit right next to me, her knees bent and her eyes all sparkly. Sarah didn’t come home from the hospital one day. My parents were sad when they told me she went to be with Jesus. I was angry at him for taking my best friend away from me. He made my parents cry.

Her room feels cold, like when you forget your jacket on a windy day. It’s a shivery cold that makes you want to hide under the covers. But I won’t let it beat me. I’ve got something strong inside me that sparkles like the stars. It’s hope and it’s magic.

Sarah was a magical dancer, and magic made the impossible possible—even if it meant dancing between worlds to find her again.

Mommy told me not to go into Sarah’s room; she locked her door.

Daddy gave me a key when she was shopping, and he told me not to tell. We kept it our secret. He knew Sarah and I were close, and she would want to share her things with me. Pookie Bear was lonely, and I needed to comfort him, too.

The room reminded me of a treasure chest from the past, with its faded and dull pastel walls. Once full of life, the curtains now drooped with frayed edges touching the floor. My heart raced like a butterfly caught in a net as I stood in the doorway.

The tiny makeup vanity sat in the corner with its chipped mirror and a small stool. A thick layer of dust covered everything like a forgotten dream. The makeup brushes lay abandoned, their bristles tangled and lifeless.

Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t step inside. They’d glance at the closed door, their eyes filled with memories and unspoken words. Sarah’s room was like a secret garden, locked away from the world. Her clothes hung in the closet as if waiting for her return. The dresses, once twirled in, now sagged like old balloons. And her roller skates, a Christmas gift that had never felt the pavement, sat there, frozen in time.

The teddy bear sat perched on the pillow of Sarah’s neatly made bed. Its glassy eyes stared at me as if asking, “Where is she?” I didn’t have an answer. Her vanity held secrets—the hairbrush that had tamed her wild curls, the mirror that had reflected her laughter. And the old perfume bottles, their scents long gone, whispered stories of teenage dreams.

The secret kiss she told me about was from Carl, who left to be with Jesus months before she did. Maybe that’s why she left, to be with Carl.

I stepped further into the room, my toes sinking into the faded carpet. The air smelled of dust and loss. But then, something shifted. Sarah’s laughter seemed to echo from the walls like a hidden melody. She loved to dance, twirling barefoot on the worn rug. Her spirit lingered here, light as a feather, urging me to remember.

I’d be strong for Mommy and Daddy. I’d twirl like Sarah, even if my feet stumbled. And maybe, just maybe, the room would come alive again, filled with laughter and dreams.

I sat in her chair and brushed my hair. The red circles under my eyes didn’t look right. I blew the dust off the little jewelry box. My cough sounded horrible. I was sure I was in for more of that yucky medicine.

I smiled when the magical ballerina popped up. When you taught me how to dance, played

Sarah loved to dance.

There were days when Sarah was all giggles and wiggles, and she’d say, “It’s showtime!”

That was my cue to grab Pookie Bear, the fluffiest member of our family, and plop down on the rug by her bed. Our eyes would get as big as saucers as Sarah started her dance, her feet barely touching the ground. She was like a butterfly, fluttering and floating, and I’d clap until my hands felt like they were made of jello.

The rug, oh, it’s got this spot that’s all fuzzy and frayed. That’s where Sarah’s toes spent more time than anywhere else. It’s like a little piece of her is still there, dancing away. Even though she’s not here, twirling in front of us, I feel like she’s just in the next room, waiting for the music to start.

I looked over at Sarah’s bed, where Pookie Bear was lying. His eyes didn’t sparkle like they used to, and his fur wasn’t fluffy anymore. It looked like he’d been waiting forever, just sitting there all alone. It made me think of all the times Sarah and I played in this room, laughing and making up stories.

Pookie Bear was Sarah’s favorite. She’d carry him everywhere, and he’d watch us with his shiny button eyes, always smiling, always listening. But now, those eyes seemed sad, like they missed Sarah too. His fur was all twisty and knotty, like the scribbles I make when trying to draw a storm.

It felt like Pookie Bear was holding onto the happy times, waiting for Sarah to come back and give him one of her big, squishy hugs. The room was quiet, too quiet, without her. I missed her so much. I missed her more than the biggest number I could count to.

I walked over and picked up Pookie Bear. He felt smaller than I remembered. “Don’t worry,” I whispered to him. “I’m here now.” I hugged him tight, hoping he could feel it, hoping it would make him a little less lonely. ’Cause that’s what Sarah would’ve done. And even though she’s not here, I can be here for Pookie Bear, just like she was for me.

A shaft of sunlight poured through the open curtain like a spotlight shone where she would dance.

The room was quiet, but in my head, I could hear Sarah’s giggles and the swish-swish of her dancing. She used to dance like no one was watching, spinning around and around until she got dizzy and flopped down beside me, laughing all the while.

Holding Pookie Bear and feeling the blanket’s warmth, I could pretend for a little bit that Sarah was right there with me, telling me stories and making me laugh. It made me feel a little less alone, a little more brave. And I knew that as long as I kept remembering her like this, she’d always be with me, dancing in my heart.

Softly, the music from that song that haunted my memory came to life.

I snuggled deeper under the blanket, pulling it up to my chin. Pookie Bear was right there with me, his button eyes wide and ready for our pretend show. The wind howled outside, making the old windows rattle like they were trying to join in our fun.

I could feel the cold trying to sneak in, making me shiver and hold Pookie even tighter. But we were brave, Pookie and I, and we were ready for anything.

We were the audience and the stars of our own little show, right there in the middle of her bedroom.

I cleared my throat, and with my best announcer voice, I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, bears and dolls, welcome to the greatest show on Earth!” Pookie sat up a little straighter, and I knew he was smiling on the inside.

I squinted my eyes, thinking the dust was dancing in the sunlight. But it wasn’t just dust—it was like fairy dust, twinkling and spinning around that special spot on the rug where Sarah used to dance.

“The show must go on,” she’d always say, her voice as bright as the sparkles now.

Then, there she was, right in front of me like she stepped out of one of our make-believe stories. Her blonde pigtails bounced as she twirled, and her white dress with the checkered blouse fluttered around her. I could hear her giggle, that same joyful sound that used to fill the room.

It was like real magic, the kind you read about in storybooks. For a moment, everything was just like before—full of laughter and dreams and Sarah’s endless dances. And I knew, no matter what, that part of her would always be with me, twirling around and around in the sparkle of magic on the bedroom rug

“Are you ready?”

I smiled with delight. “Sarah!”

I stood up, and the blanket whooshed down to the floor. It felt like the middle of summer, all warm and sunny inside my heart. Pookie Bear was sitting on the bench, his little button eyes watching us. He was the best audience ever.

Sarah hugged me so tight. It was like she was trying to squish all the world’s love into one hug. I could barely breathe, but I didn’t want her to let go. It was the best feeling like being wrapped up in a giant marshmallow, all warm and safe.

Her giggle was right in my ear, and it tickled, but it was the kind of tickle that makes you laugh, not squirm. I hugged her back as much as I could, and I wished we could stay like that forever, just Sarah and me, in a never-ending hug.

She nodded, “It’s me, let’s dance.”

“Yeah, what are we dancing to?”

The music box sprang open, and there she was—the ballerina, all tiny and perfect. The music started those twinkly, magical notes that seemed to come from another world. And the sparkles! They were everywhere, floating in the air like snowflakes made of starlight.

Sarah was right there with me. I could feel her, even though I couldn’t see her the way I used to. She took my hands in hers, and we started to dance. Her steps were light, just like I remembered—like she was made of air and joy.

The music was playing, a song that made you want to dance even if you were just thinking about it. We laughed. Sarah and I laughed like we used to when we were playing tag or making funny faces. She held my hands, and we spun around the room, our feet kicking up sparkles that looked like tiny stars.

We both giggled like the children we were. As we danced, I heard applause from the audience. There was an audience of hundreds of people just beyond the light.

“Come on, do it as I showed you,” she said.

The light followed us around the ice as we twirled like that little ballerina in the box. I was wearing a beautiful costume for skaters and not my pajamas. We were just like the ice skaters on TV.

Sarah was here, really, truly here. It wasn’t just pretend or make-believe. She was warm like the sun that streams in through the window, making you feel all cozy inside. She was alive, like the butterflies that flutter in your tummy when you’re about to get a birthday present.

She loved me, just like she always did, like when she’d share her candy with me, even the last piece, or when she’d hold my hand during the scary parts of a movie. She was my best friend, the kind that knows all your secrets and still loves you.

And now, she was here, not just in my dreams or my wishes, but for real. It was the best feeling in the whole wide world, like finding a lost treasure or seeing a shooting star. Sarah, my sister, my best friend, is right here with me.

As the dance ended, we gracefully bowed, feeling the weight of the roses being tossed on the ice. The applause ended, leaving behind a lingering echo that was replaced by the mighty roar of the ocean and the calls of birds overhead, replacing the cheering crowd.

In a flash of magic, we were no longer surrounded by the cold ice. As we stood in the field, the scent of blooming flowers mingled with the salty breeze from the nearby beach. Dressed in our bathing suits, we basked in the sun’s warmth, its rays dancing on our exposed skin. The sound of children playing on the beach filled the air. Some of them I knew from school. I wondered if Carl was there, too.

Sarah’s face reminded me of the glassy eyes of Pookie Bear.

“We’re in a place that’s more magical than anywhere else,” she said, squeezing my hand. “It’s like a secret room where only special people can go. It’s full of sparkles and music, and it’s where we can dance like no one’s watching.”

I smiled,“I wish we could stay here forever.”

She took me by the hand as we walked down the hill toward the roaring water. As we reached the warm sand, she smiled and knelt before me.

“We’re home. Let’s build a sand castle.”

“With a dance floor?”

She nodded, “Just for us.”

Sarah wasn’t here, I was there.

June 01, 2024 06:08

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Jenny Cook
08:16 Jun 16, 2024

You captured the innocence of a small girl grieving the loss of her sister. Nicely done…


Scott Taylor
17:29 Jun 16, 2024

Thanks Jenny, I direct a writers group here in the North Dallas area. This story was originally part of a flash fiction that I wrote, where the prompt was about a music box that started playing all on its own. The original story, less than 1000 words, was called Ballerina in a Box. With more than 1000 words to play with, I wanted to try writing a story from the POV of a child. Take care...Keep Writing..:)


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Joseph Hawke
12:24 Jun 13, 2024

Excellent foreshadowing. Since I was asked to read this as a critique, I will offer a suggestion that I have sought to apply to my own writing; I.e., once the full story has been told, I reread several times to prune what can be eliminated at the sentence level (if anything), and then again at the word level within individual sentences, including, where applicable, modifying syntax, in the interest of economizing to what seems like the barest essence for the story to be told. Not sure, given the POV in this case, with a young girl’s first p...


Scott Taylor
17:07 Jun 13, 2024

Thanks, Joseph. That is excellent advice for the narrative. One of my favorite authors is Follet, who uses words very judiciously. I am glad you liked the story!


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Kristi Gott
05:49 Jun 12, 2024

Very insightful pov of a small girl. Creative and written imaginatively. Imagery and descriptions are wonderful. Unique approach to the subject of passing to the next life. Well done!


Scott Taylor
13:35 Jun 12, 2024

Thanks Kristi!


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Trudy Jas
10:21 Jun 03, 2024

Sad, sad, sad. The innocence of childhood. Not understanding the adult world, death and loss. Great job, Scott!


Scott Taylor
19:45 Jun 03, 2024

Thanks, Trudy; that was a bit of a stretch writing from the POV of a small girl.


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