Counting | Teen Ink


June 11, 2019
By Genevieve_C BRONZE, New York, New York
Genevieve_C BRONZE, New York, New York
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." -Les Brown

            It’s a rainy day, this one, but I’m still out here grabbing today’s pebble. I’ve been doing it every day since you decided to leave us. I still don’t know why you did that. Mama just keeps looking at your picture, shaking her head, and whispering about why she let you get to her head so much. She’s tried explaining it to me before, but the words never seem to slip out of her mouth. They stay frozen, frozen inside of her mind and her heart, where words always fail her but resentment keeps her going.

            Anyhow, I’m outside for the fifty-fourth time today, grabbing up whatever pebble my eyes first land on. It’s a routine for me now, and it always goes like this: I wake up, go outside, grab the pebble, come back inside, and drop it into the plastic container that always waits for me on my window sill. Somehow, it’s no living, breathing thing, but it’s the most loyal thing to me. After all, it can’t walk away from me one day and take all my pebbles with it. I haven’t told mom about what it means to me, if that’s what you’re wondering right now; I think if I were to tell her, she’d go quiet and give me that same look she gave you when you finally shut the door behind you.

            As I drop the fifty-fourth pebble into the container, I think about what day you’ve missed this time. On the twenty-third day, it was your wedding anniversary with mom; she wasn’t too happy that day. Today, it’s my birthday, but I won’t come home from school to find you with open arms, a splendid birthday cake, and a neatly wrapped present. Instead, I’ll come home to a still grief-stricken mother and a container with exactly fifty-four pebbles inside. It should be foolish of me to believe that it will be my last day dropping a pebble, but I can’t help but imagine you and I together again. Maybe, hopefully, my imaginative visions will come true on day fifty-five.


            Three hundred and sixty-five pebbles. You’ve left me to count a year’s worth of pebbles as of today, but somehow it still surprises me that you haven’t come to your senses. I replaced that little old plastic container a few days ago, since the pebbles I’ve counted didn’t fit anymore. I wonder if, perhaps, you’ve replaced me the same way; you could be in another state or country, embracing another family with the love and affection I once believed you had for me. No, no, I’ll push the thought away for my heart’s sake, before I fall apart again. Vulnerability has left me prone to fantasies I know will only remain fantasies, even if I continuously pray for different circumstances.

            I starred in the leading role of my school’s play yesterday, watching the crowd conclude my evening with cries and applause of adoration. Mom sat by herself in the audience, yet I know she was the loudest of them all. I knew she was making up for the silence caused by your absence, even if she didn’t admit it. When all was finished and we were idle in our home, a silence thickened the atmosphere between us for the longest time; the evening closed with she and I in my room, my head nestled gently in her lap as tears rolled down my cheeks for perhaps the hundredth time. Even as I cried pointlessly for your presence, the dim hope of your return still echoed throughout my mind, and I gave one last glance at that eyesore of a pebble container on my window sill.


I didn’t cry, or frown, or even sigh when I dropped today’s pebble. Today was number one thousand four hundred and sixty, a seemingly preposterous number. Nonetheless, I could describe myself at that moment as rather emotionally empty; turns out, the pebble container became a sort of callous for me, protecting me from the continuous sorrow you left behind. Now, even when I look at mom, I see your presence in our minds and hearts fading gradually. I never wanted it to be that way, but your disappearance forced my hand in the matter. I could accept all my losses and move on entirely, because I know I’d be better off that way. Yet, the hopeless practice of filling that container once more will continue for now.

Today, I’m all packed up and ready to start the next phase of my life: college. It’s no Ivy League school, but the clear pride emanating from my mother’s golden smile reassured me that it was all I needed. I must admit, I’m worried to leave her alone; it makes me feel like I’m just like you, drifting far away from her as she once again learns to cope with loneliness. I don’t know where I’ll go from this point. I would’ve liked to have talked about the possibilities with you, and babble on and on about how I wasn’t ready for the challenges presented by imminent adulthood. It’s a shame that you made the choice to miss it all.


I’ve done it. I’ve made it through obstacles and triumphs of all sorts to get to this point, but as I look at what I’ve got I can see how worth it it all was. It’s been a while since I last thought about you, and what you’ve missed in the time you’ve been gone; I can’t say I don’t have any regrets left, but I can admit that the people I’ve surrounded myself with have faded the way I used to pine over you. I’m married, have a home and a good job, all great things to have to be happy in life. However, what really makes me see my success in this world are the children I get to raise every day. I always do my best for them, hoping that when they grow to be in their mother’s position, they’ll look back at me as I did my own mother: with a beautiful and boundless admiration.

I made a promise to myself the first time I looked at my first child. I was rather dazed and somewhat confused by everything around me, yet I still knew the duty I bestowed upon myself. I would protect my children with every fiber of my being, standing as their shield against a world of surprises, both good and bad. I would give them my entire world, making whatever sacrifices were necessary to preserve the glowing, youthful grins that brightened my every waking moment. Most importantly, I would be by their side forever, watching every milestone pass by with an unimaginable joy and prideful tears stinging my eyes. Well, I draw to a close now, as I’m sure I’ve given a long enough account of what’s happened since I brought out that old container and started dropping pebbles. What number am I on, you ask? Sadly, I wouldn’t know any better. I’ve stopped counting.

The author's comments:

Hello everybody!

I am excited to present my next realistic fiction piece "Counting". It's a concept that I thought of not too long ago, and I am so happy to finally have it all in writing. I hope you enjoy it! :)

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