Fiction Sad Teens & Young Adult

This story contains sensitive content

Mentions death and dying, also hints at suicide.

Reece comes into view as I walk around the park’s bathrooms. He’s sitting on one of the four empty swings, looking down at his phone. He hears my footsteps as I get closer and he looks up at me. A faint smile plays on his face as he nods to the swing next to him, silently prompting me to sit.

“Not suspicious at all,” I playfully say as I begin swinging slowly. I glance around the empty city park, the sun bleached purple dinosaurs bouncing back and forth in the wind. If I believed in ghosts, I’d think there were two playing on those dinosaurs right now. “A teenage boy sitting alone in the swings at the park at 9 P.M.”

He slides his phone in his pocket and looks at me. His brown eyes look black as the sun falls under the horizon, not even the streetlights can brighten them. “You know me, Cass. Just waiting to start trouble.” I can hear a hint of sadness in Reece’s voice. My heart aches for him.

6 days ago, Reece’s dad died. He was on the way home from work when a car swerved into him at an intersection and sent his truck rolling into an empty field. Reece has been staying with his grandmother since no one has heard from his mom. I know he’s hurting, but he’s too strong to show it. His dad always said “Men don’t cry, son.” ever since his mom left them without a warning. So now, even with his dad dead and his mother nowhere to be seen, he stays as solid as a rock. Not a single tear has fallen down his face.

“Are you okay, Reece?” I’ve asked him this at least 100 times since the news broke, and every time it has been the same answer.

“Good as I can be.” Reece repeats the infamous line. He shrugs and begins swinging, his long legs push off of the ground for more speed. After a few moments of silence, he says, “You ever think about what you would do if you knew you were dying?”

My stomach drops and I stop myself, digging my feet into the dirt. “Reece-”

“I’m not going to off myself.” He says matter-of-factly. “I read a book recently where the main characters knew they’d be dying in 24 hours, so they spent their last day living it to the fullest.” Reece explains as he swings higher and higher.

Reece’s grandma hasn’t mentioned any major changes in him lately. She said he’s his normal self, quiet and keeps to himself. I don’t think he’s ever mentioned the topic of death before though. “No, I haven’t thought about that. I guess it never really crossed my mind.” Which is true. I haven’t been faced with death, or had any close family members die suddenly. We’re only 16 years old, we shouldn’t have to think about death.

“I think I would spend the day going to all of my dad’s favorite places then spend the rest of it with him at the cemetery.” He tells me, as if he has been thinking about this already, planning his final day on Earth. He said he wouldn’t “off himself”, but him thinking about these things worries me.

I think that you shouldn’t be putting this on yourself. Thinking about this kind of thing won’t help you feel any better.” I notice Reece’s hands grip the chains of the swing a little tighter, but I continue. “You should be thinking about how you’re going to make your dad proud, not about how you will visit him on your final day. Are you sure you’re o-”

Reece groans loudly and stands from the swing, walking away grumbling. I watch him as he stalks over to the jungle gym next to us, swinging effortlessly across the yellow monkey bars. I think back to when we were kids, maybe 7 or 8, when we would meet at the park every day after school and spend hours swinging, playing tag, spinning on the merry-go-round. Now we’re 16 and talking about death.

“I’m so tired of you and everyone else asking if I’m okay.” He grunts as he swings himself onto the jungle gym platform. “I’m fine! My dad died and I’m fine. Even if I wasn’t, there’s nothing anyone can do to make me feel better. So stop asking me if I’m okay.” Reece disappears from the platform and I hear clunking as he slides down the small slide. He comes to a stop as I walk up to him and he lays his head in his hands, without moving to stand. “I just-” His voice breaks as his body begins shaking from quiet sobs that he lets echo into the empty park. “I just don’t know what to do without him. He was supposed to live forever. He was supposed to watch me graduate, go to college, get married, play with his grandkids. Now he’s 6 feet under and I can’t do a damn thing about it.”

“Oh Reece,” I kneel down and wrap my arms around him. He leans forward, finally releasing every tear that he has kept inside his tired eyes for the past week. “I’m sorry. I know I don’t know how you’re feeling. I know I haven’t lost someone like you have. I know we have such different lives, but I hope you know that I am always going to be here for you. For every moment, big or small. I also hope you know that even though your dad isn’t physically here, he will always be with you in here.” I lay my hand on his chest, hoping not to sound too cheesy. “You need to mourn just like everyone else does. You can cry and you can be angry, but please don’t let your grief control your life.”

I notice the sobs slowing as lifts his head. I raise my hands to his cheeks and brush away his tears with my thumbs. “Please don’t let your grief take you away from me.” I choke out, there’s a lump growing in my throat as the thought of him “offing himself” crosses my mind.

I watch Reece’s face as the meaning of my words sets in. He grabs my hand and squeezes it in his own. “Cassidy, nothing could ever take me away from you.”

“Just like nothing could ever really take away your dad from you.” I feel a tear escape my left eye - so much for staying strong for Reece.

A sad smile grows on his face, so small I would probably miss it if I wasn’t so close to him. His eyes fall to my lips as butterflies burst in my stomach. When he notices my cheeks blushing, he lays his hand on my cheek. Reece runs his thumb along my lips and tips my head up so our eyes meet. I lean in, closing the space between us, and crash my lips into his.

His hand makes its way up to my hair and pulls me closer, deepening our kiss. Our first kiss. My hand is still laying on his chest, over his fast-beating heart. If I didn’t have to breathe, I would stay just like this forever. We only break apart when hard raindrops hit us, and we’re drenched within moments.

“You’ve got me forever, Cass. Forever and always.”

April 16, 2024 18:11

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Amy Bepko
01:19 Apr 25, 2024

Sweet sad tale. Good job.


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Dena Linn
17:53 Apr 22, 2024

A very sweet story with a lot of emotion and dialogue! Keep writing, enjoying the craft.


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