“If anyone asks,” Jason says, “tell them we’re fine.”
But we’re not fine.
The words never escape your lips. You swallow them and they sit heavy in your stomach like a wad of over-chewed gum.
Instead, you nod. You whisper something that sounds like “okay” but lacks conviction. You go along with this because he’s older than you—not by much, but by just enough. Enough to be wiser and smarter and not nearly so naïve, or so he likes to tell you. Sometimes he doesn’t tell you with his voice, but with his body: the way he elbows between you and the bullies, the way he rolls his eyes when you tell him your plans for art school, the way his lips purse when you say something childish in front of his older, cooler friends.
You put up with these messages because you like the way he holds you in the night in the back seat of his car. You like the way he makes you feel safe, even as something rebels in your gut. You like that he likes you—quiet, miserable, small-chested you.
So when your parents ask, you tell them you’re fine—even as you shrug the leafy branches that should be hands further up into your hoodie sleeves.
I wrote “If You See Green, Scream” during Story-a-Day May 2015. It’s one of my favorite stories from that month/year. It’s a bit dark, a bit hopeless, but also a bit… Well, I won’t spoil it. It’s short, free to read, go take a look here.
I love this story. I love so many of its lines. I love its quiet nature.
It’s one of those stories of mine that I reread and just think YES. I’m unabashedly happy with this story. I like rereading it. I hope you will too.