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We Need to Talk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

A shout comes from down the hall, and the boy cringes. He listens to the accusations and justifications, then shuts the door. He reaches for his drumsticks and begins to practice, bringing the slow, steady beat to a crescendo. Tonight, though, the rhythm of the drum does not calm him as it usually does. The steady thud, thud, thud of the snare cannot drown out the shouts; they seem louder than ever as he works his beat into a rhythmic cacophony. He hears his name, and pauses in the middle of the song. They are probably blaming him, he thinks. Later, he will ask what the argument was about, and they will lie, claiming it was nothing to worry about.

Later he will confront them, but now he needs to get out of here. He puts down his drumsticks and goes to the closet. Staring at the mishmash of children's games and books, he reflects on how he has changed from the child who once begged Mommy to play Monopoly. He grabs a jacket. He can't be in the same house as the argument any more. It's an oppressive thing, almost palpable, even when muffled by the closed door. He grabs his iPod and leaves.

He sweeps the door open, and strides out, setting the iPod on shuffle. A slow, melancholy tune plays, and his mood deepens. He unconsciously begins to step to the beat of the song, one of his favorites. He gloomily stares at the changing leaves and thinks that school will be starting soon. The last thing he needs is homework to add to the long list of things he has no time to do. He walks past his neighbors' house, thinking about the nice old woman who once lived there. He trips on the sidewalk but catches himself. A quick look at his shoes shows they are falling apart. He decides that he needs new ones. Then the song changes.

A quick, upbeat pop song comes on, and his step quickly goes from a depressed shuffle to a springy leap. The rain clouds covering his thoughts clear, and he smiles for the first time in what feels like months. His friends come to mind, and he remembers the last time he went to a friend's house for a birthday sleepover. They had played pranks on the first ones to fall asleep. Naturally, he had been the last one asleep; he wouldn't have anything done to him.

His stride gradually lengthens as he finds the rhythm to the song. Now he's practically flying over the pavement. The wind flowing through his long hair feels amazing, and he knows that his mother will make him get it cut soon. If she can stop screaming at my father long enough to notice me, he thinks.

The bubbly music quickly pushes those thoughts to the back of his mind, and he finds himself walking in a random direction, almost against his will. The pounding of the music slowly fades, and the only thing he hears is the sound of his feet hitting the pavement, and then the next song comes on, announced by the screaming fans in the background. The drum begins to play a quick, loud beat, and he recognizes the song. It is his favorite by a long shot, even though it isn't in English. As the haunting melody weaves through the soft rhythm of the drums, he begins to feel invincible. The spring in his step is replaced by an authoritative stride, and he turns the volume up. The feeling of calm that the previous song had given him is extinguished, replaced by a burning in his chest that takes his breath away. He turns around. He is going home.

Standing on his doorstep, the manic energy leaves him, and he removes his headphones. He will have to do this on his own. He pushes the door open, and the yelling hits him like a jackhammer. He pushes his hair out of his eyes, takes a deep breath, and climbs the stairs. He opens the door to his parents' room and says, “We need to talk.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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kah11231 said...
Mar. 22, 2012 at 10:47 am:
A boy is disturbed by the arguments his parents constaley have, he feel's depressed that his parents focus more on the accusations they shout towards one another than to give attention to there pride and joy across the hall from them. I feel that a child shouldnt be neglected by his/her parents know matter what the situation is that parents are going threw, at the end of the day a child have to be loved.
 
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