Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Weird Quirks and a Pillow


Get out! And don’t you ever come back!”

The malicious words echoed in my empty head. I played them on repeat as I plodded back across town. The fact that icy rain pelted my frozen body didn’t make the walk any easier. Fortunately, my feet were numb so I couldn’t feel the sharp asphalt that I knew was cutting the soft pads of the bottom of my feet. My clothes were heavy with water and my bare arms wrapped themselves around my body, trying in vain to cease the violent shivers.

With my head down and tears merging with the rain, I trudged toward the last place I wanted to go, but the only place I could go.


I sighed with immense relief as I finally flopped on to my bed. It felt as if my body was melting into my bed; I was so tired.

“I’m finally done,” I moaned triumphantly as I scanned my desk which was covered in completed homework. “And it’s only-“ I glanced at my clock-“1 o’clock!” I must have spaced off longer than I thought. Oh well, I thought as I closed my eyes. Time to sleep.


My eyes snapped open. Was that a knock on the door? It was so quiet, I couldn’t tell. With a shrug, I closed my eyes once again and let the sound of the water hitting the roof lull me to sleep. Maybe it was just the rain.

Knock, knock.

Not only did my eyes fly open, but I bolted straight up in my bed. Okay that time was definitely a knock and rain can’t knock. Skeptically, I slid off my bed and out of my room and then tiptoed down the hall.

“Did you hear it too?” I turned around to see my older brother, Sam, sticking his head out of his door. His hair is stuck up at all angles and his eyes were swollen. He obviously wasn’t sleeping either.

“The knock?” I asked. I nodded, “Yeah I think so.”

Knock, knock.

I sent Sam a look and together we crept towards the door. “Who would be knocking on our door at 1 o’clock in the morning?” I questioned in an angry whisper. “Plus there’s an effing storm going on outside!” All Sam did in reply was shrug. God, this is annoying. All I want is some sleep.

Once we got to the door, I placed my hand on the cold door knob and braced myself for some crazy bugler to come bursting through the door. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sam reach for a baseball bat in the coat closet obviously thinking the same thing. We exchanged looks and then I swung the door open.

My eyes stretched to the size of saucers and I heard Sam drop the bat.

A girl stood at our door step in only black sweats and a gray t-shirt. She was completely soaked from head to toe and her body shook violently with shivers. Her bare feet were white and swollen probably five times their original size. Skinny bare arms hugged her body tightly and her teeth chattered uncontrollably. Black hair was matted to her face and shoulders and her bloodshot eyes looked up at us numbly. But I have to say the most surprising feature about her appearance was she had a large, deep cut running from the bottom right on her jaw to the top of her cheekbone. The cut turned the rain underneath it from clear to a light red color that ran down her neck. It wasn’t until she met my gaze and I looked into familiar dark brown eyes that I recognized who this girl was. It was Sira.

“I-if it’s no-not t-to much trouble,” Sira shivered, “can I-I sleep he-ere t-t-tonight?”

It is now 3 o’clock in the morning. Two hours since Sira showed up at our door step. As soon as I ushered her inside, Sam ran off to wake up Mom. She ran in and saw trembling Sira and immediately started barking orders at us in Chinese of course cause she goes back to her old ways when she’s in her “Emergency Mode”. Mom yelled at us to put on the kettle for tea, to grab some warm clothes, and to set up the couch for Sira as she basically dragged Sira to the bathroom. I cringed when I heard the shower start and saw smoke seep out from underneath the bathroom door. Being as cold as Sira was, it would burn like no other to suddenly be submerged under hot water.

Now Sira was asleep on the couch wearing my huge superman shirt and Sam’s sweats. Me and Sam stood in the corner of the living room watching Sira sleep in the weird way she does. Sira slept on her stomach with her arms folded underneath her and her face in-between the couch and her pillow so that her entire face wasn’t visible. “It makes me feel safe, I guess,” explained Sira one day when I asked her about it. She told me that it made her feel like she could hide away from all the bad stuff. At the time I didn’t know what she meant by that. “It’s a psychological thing,” she would say then dive into psychological terms and she would share theories that she had read about in her books. The memory of it made me laugh. Sira made me laugh.

“Why did she come here?” whispered Sam in Chinese as he turned around to face the wall for some reason and I turned to face him. “And she was crying Kai. I have never ever seen her sad let alone crying! Except when I…” Same trailed off.

Tore her heart out and crushed it with your cold unforgiving hands, I finished for him in my head. I would never say that out loud. For one, he would kill me if I did, but also he knew I knew that hurting her like that destroyed him. Still, it didn’t make it right what he did to her, but he was right about Sira never ever being sad. Sira was one of those people who was always happy. A smile was a constant feature on her face. She was the happiest, most childish, most passionate person I ever knew. And it’s not like it’s just a mask she puts on. The warm beams of happiness that she is constantly giving off is a genuine unfeigned cheerfulness. She cars for everyone and everything and she always finds the good in every situation. So for her to cry and to show up at our house shaking, it’s got to be bad.

“Why didn’t she go to Auden’s house?” continued Sam as he was still baffled with why Sira, out of all places, came here.

“Auden’s family is on vacation remember,” I told him in english cause it was annoying how he kept trying to be all discrete.

“Then what about Kendall?” Sam asked in english this time.

“Her dad slammed the door in my face.”

We turned back around to see that Sira was sitting upright with her hands fiddling with her hair that seemed like if was getting thicker. We could see her face now and there was a piece of gauze taped on her face where her cut was and her usually dark brown skin was pale if that was even possible. My shirt hung on her thin frame and Sam’s sweats nearly engulfed her bandaged feet. When I looked into her eyes I expected the usual childish happiness that was ever present, but what I found was nothing. Her eyes were empty of all emotion.

“Ugh,” she groaned. “I give up.” Her hands flopped down onto her lap. “Looks like you guys are going to get to see my natural hair. Enjoy its ugliness.” When I looked closer I saw that her usually straight hair was getting a tight kink to it as it dried. After one last pursuit to set her hair right, Sira grabbed the pillow next to her and hugged it tightly to her chest. That was another one of her “psychological” quirks that she did to make her feel safe. She always had her arms wrapped around herself and when she was home, she hugged a pillow. Even when she used to come over, before what Sam did, the first thing she would do is sit on the couch, curl her legs up underneath her and take the closest pillow and grasp it tight to her chest. Then she would carry the pillow with her for the remainder of the visit. This particular quirk had always made me smile, but now, looking at her as she clung desperately to a pillow with her eyes so lifeless, it made me feel miserable because she just looked so broken.

“First I went to Auden’s house,” Sira began in a hollow voice, “but then I realized that they weren’t home. So I sat on her porch for a while and just cried.” Her face remained emotionless and empty, but I’m pretty sure mine looked just as pathetic as Sam’s did right now. “Then I walked across town to Kendall’s house. So her dad answers the door and you know what he says?” Her brow furrowed in confusion; it was the first emotion I’ve seen her wear all night. “He says, ‘Sorry. I can’t help you’ and then he shut the door… I knew he never like me.” She sighed heavily, then the corner of her mouth turned up. “Guess it’s cause I’m black.” And Sira laughed. Me and Sam laughed to because we always are teasing each other about our races. Sira always calls us stupid Asians and we call her that annoying black person. It’s just what we do. Sam and I laugh out of relief because her small smile gave us hope that she is okay and that she’s not broken and numb. It gave us hope that, even though whatever happened was bad, she would keep smiling like she always does.

But that hope vanished with her smile. The small beam of joy in her eyes diminished as quickly as it came and was once again replaced with and blank, lifeless gaze, but this time it was accompanied by sorrow. She looked at us with such sorrow and hopelessness that Sam went limp and, I swear, my heart stopped beating.

Then I was kneeling in front of her. I placed my hand on her knee then slid it up to her arm where I rested it on her elbow. “Can you tell us what happened,” I pleaded quietly.

Instantly, her eyes flooded with tears and she was no longer numb to the pain she was feeling. She was feeling it all over again. “My um… My dad,” she began in a weak voice. “He, uh, hit me.” Sira put a shaking hand up to the gauze on her face. “He hit me and then yelled at me to get-to get out.” Her voice hitched and a strange gurgling sound came out of her throat. The tears that flooded her eyes finally broke through and were racing down her pale cheeks. “He told me to never come back, ever.” It was then that I could practically see her heart shatter. Sira held on to her pillow like it was a life line as sobs racked her body. She shook so violently that she fell forward and in a second I had my arms around her and her face was buried in my chest.

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed loudly. “I’m so sorry, dad!” And it was then that Sam’s couldn’t handle her pain and he keeled over. His head was in his hands and he crouched near the wall. I held her tighter as her desperate pleas shattered my heart too. How could her father do this to his own daughter? What could sweet Sira ever do that caused her father to do this?

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry,” she continued as she bawl louder and louder.

“It’s not your fault,” I tried to assure her, but she just cried harder and I got angrier. Sira doesn’t deserve this. All she deserves is to be happy. Why does she have to have this life? What did she do to deserve the life she’s forced to live.?

“It’s not your fault,” I repeated through clenched teeth. “You don’t deserve this.”

I held her till her sobs degraded to forceful hiccups and then until she was still. Wiping the tears that drenched her face, I laid her back down onto the couch and pried the pillow from her grasp, knowing full well that she’ll turn over onto her stomach soon. Sam was still in his fetal position by the wall and I walked over and held my hand out to him. When he looked up at me his eyes were more swollen than before, but he gratefully took my hand and let me hoist him up.

We began to walk back to our rooms, but Sam stopped and crouched next to Sira. Sam took her hand and when he did, Sira slowly pried her eyes open.

“I have no where else to go,” Sira whispered, her voice shaking.

Sam touch his hand to her bandaged cheek. “I know,” he whispered back. “I’ll keep you safe from now on.” A single tear rolled down Sam’s cheek and Sira reached up to wipe it off, but Sam caught her hand then held it to his face. With a smile, Sam stood up and walked off to his room.

That night, Sira slept on her back the whole night.

Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

JRayeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 13, 2014 at 7:29 pm
I thought this was a great story! You're characters were really well thought out (based on real people from your dream?) and it definitely makes you feel for Sira. Something I think you could improve on is the quality of your writing. Some of your sentences ran on, the dialogue wasn't entirely believable, and some of the more descriptive paragraphs dragged on too. But I really did like the story, Hope this helps:) Good luck on future projects!
JRayeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm
And one more thing I noticed - I LOVE you're title! :)
Carly_ElizabethThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 14, 2014 at 12:07 am
Thanks for the feedback! And yeah I understand the run ons. This was actually pretty challenging to write cause I wrote it in the present tense which I'm not entirely used to so it was hard to figure out how to describe things. You know what I mea? haha. And I have just one question. What do you mean by my dialogue not making sense? I'm just a little confused. 
Carly_ElizabethThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 14, 2014 at 12:09 am
And I'm glad you like the title! It took me forever to find a good one haha. 
JRayeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm
Yeah, writing in present tense can be tricky sometimes. See, what I mean by dialoge is that it just didn't sound realistic to me. Just a couple sentences, really - "It's o'clock!", "If it's not to much trouble,"... statements like that just sound a little too formal for a story about teenagers, take the reader away from the story a little. Not a big thing, just something you could improve on. That help? :)
Carly_ElizabethThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Apr. 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm
Oh alright makes sense. Thanks again!
Site Feedback