Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Crumpled Paper Cup This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
He peers from behind a paper cup, grins as he tries to get your attention and quickly hides his face when you look at him. You hold back a smile as his father pries the cup from his grimy hands. Then you try to ignore him as he softly bargains for a new plaything, pressing his head against the bleachers and rocking back and forth in clumsy agitation. The basketball game suddenly explodes with intensity, snaring your attention, and for a few minutes you forget the little boy.

Until halftime.

When you notice a certain wetness on your right leg. You look down and see a red plastic sippy cup leaking despite the boy’s attempts to right it. He fumbles, fat fingers quivering with concentration as he perches on the bench. All at once he senses your gaze and looks up, anxiously scans your face for annoyance, then melts into a bashful grin when he realizes you mean no harm. A moment later, his father swoops down on him and his bottle, apologizing for his son’s carelessness and speaking sternly to the boy.

You tell him it’s alright. The second half begins.

The little boy remains docile for a good five minutes before leaping to his feet once more. His father ignores him. The child runs back and forth on the bleachers, tapping each numbered seat with his hand. When he reaches you, he pauses, crouches, then launches towards you with a triumphant ‘Ha!’ He does this several times, until finally you acknowledge his existence. He smiles at you then delivers a much louder, derisive laugh before returning with a battered paper cup. He places it on the seat beside you, leaning against your leg as he stretches to deposit it carefully tangent to your right thigh. You pretend not to notice, secretly amused.

He comes back carrying several careworn picture books, which he stacks on top of the paper cup. Next he brings a shoe. Then a jacket. A box of popcorn. A set of keys. A wallet.

Then, finally, his angry father.

The man grabs the boy under one arm, collects the miscellaneous items with the other, and drags it all into the aisle and towards the exit.

As the clock counts down, you sit quietly amidst the roaring crowd. Reflecting. To your left: the final remnants of a father’s profuse apology. To your right: a crumpled paper cup. And everywhere, the absence of laughter.




Join the Discussion


This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

705toofdaPThis 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...
Dec. 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm:
This is so amazing. I love how you showed the growing anger of the father (antagonist), and how the little boy became the protagonist. It all came out as one well-balanced story. Great job :)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
KestrelThis 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...
Jun. 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm:
You are an amazing writer. Keep submitting. I don't know where you come up with some of this stuff, and yet they are all commonplace things that many people have experienced. You just write them really well. :-)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
KestrelThis 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...
Jun. 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm:

You are an amazing writer. Keep submitting. I don't know where you come up with some of this stuff, and yet they are all commonplace things that many people have experienced. You just write them really well. :-)

 

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback