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Petal by Petal

by salia4


There are always a ton of people who are scrambling to keep their lives from falling apart, and there are the people whose lives have already fallen, scrambling in an attempt to put it back together. Then, there are those who never had one to begin with. However, we must be careful to remember that in the midst of all this despair, there are always those lucky few that were born happy and manage to remain so.

    Although everyone has a breaking point, some are able to put it off longer than others, but this story isn’t about those people, it’s about a person born happy who reached that point all too soon.

    Picture this, a cobblestone walkway winding through an elaborate garden, ten different types of rose bushes, petunias, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and irises, all different colors arranged in such a way that you can’t look away. But, when you finally do, you find yourself glued once again because past the garden, the vegetable patches, past the orchard that lies in a straight line in front of a row of oak trees, is the gorgeous house you’ve ever seen. A 17th century Victorian, 3 stories high, painted a lilac with maroon trim. Hanging on the window sills are flower pots overflowing with vines, giving the house an air of ancient beauty and intrigues in such a way that only beauty can. You find yourself drawn to it, you need to look closer, go inside, appreciate the house in all its worth both interior and exterior. And, inside this is the perfect family of four, two parents, and an older boy and younger girl. They own a husky, a Persian cat, and the girl owns a parrot. A beautiful family, with beautiful pets, inside of a beautiful house, everything is perfect. Little do they know it won’t stay that way for long, all caused by one word: Divorce.

    It all starts on August 12th, 2011, the dog days of summer. The blistering heat is so intense no one in the house wants to do anything, all they can manage was arguing. The siblings are having meaningless squabbles about which colors are better than others.

While the sibling's argument was meaningless, the same could not be said for their parents.

“I thought I told you to order new clothes for Sara and Michal!” the mother screams.

“I never heard you, or perhaps you forgot to tell me.” the father replies, struggling to keep his temper under control.

“Of course I told you, you imbecile!”

“Sam, calm down.”

“You calm down Daniel!”

“What is wrong with you? It’s just a few clothes! I can’t stand you anymore!” Daniel screams, pointing an accusing finger at Sam, “You’re insane! I’m done with you!” he says, spins on his heel, then storms out of the house.

Later that night Daniel returns, but he’s brought something with him, the divorce papers.

The process of divorce itself is simple and easy, it’s the result that leaves an impression. Sam got custody since the house belonged to her and she was the only one between the two of them with a job. Daniel got visitation rights every weekend, though it was never carried out, for he ran off the next day.

Sam rebounded quickly, getting on Match the following week and started seeing someone two days later. The kids, however, were hit differently. Michal, at 16, started working later hours and staying over with friends more and more often. Sara, at that tender of age of 7, didn’t fully understand what was going on, she only knew that her brother wasn’t around much, and her mom was hanging out with someone she had never seen before. At the time, she was a little confused, but otherwise still perfectly happy, little did she know what was coming for her only a few years later.

It’s now 2018, Sara is 14 years old, having to carry the burden of her family on her back, her mom is never home, and Sara is left to clean, do laundry, wash dishes, and cook dinner for her older brother and new baby sister.

Sara now understands what happened back in 2011; the divorce, her father leaving, her brother draining into a hollow shell, the body still there but the spirit is gone. Sara now understands that it was depression which ate away at her brother, and now that depression had eaten her brother, it was after her.

Everyday Sara stares at herself in the mirror, every time she asks herself the same questions, “Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the point of living?”

Every day, the same questions, every day, no answer.

Sam was always too “busy” notice how everyday Sara’s face was turning more and paler, she never noticed how a smile no longer made it onto Sara’s face. She didn’t notice her daughter slowly fading away. She wasn’t there when Sara ended her life.

Depression is much like a rose that’s lost its core, its center, petal by petal it tears at your soul until there is only one left, just barely holding on. Then, it takes only one mean look, one insult, to blow it away. When that happens, not only has that person lost their spirit but their desire to live.

Too often is the case when someone unintentionally plucks that last petal. Too often is the case that what were meant to be jokes stabs someone’s heart. Too often is the case that people insult, glare, joke, ignore and hurt one another without even considering that the victim might be nearing that last petal.

Too often is the case that we unintentionally hurt the ones we love most.


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346 Reviews


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Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:14 pm
Dreamy wrote a review...



Hello, Salia. Hope you're doing well.

There are not many realistic short stories in the site so when I saw this I immediately clicked to read. I was not disappointed. I liked it. I'm guessing this is the first draft of the story, we certainly have a lot to address, so let's get to it.

You have a nice introduction, it sounded a little bit philosophical which is not a bad thing but when not handled with care it could bore people.

there are always those lucky few that were born happy and manage to remain so.


Replace "that" with "who" and "were" with "are" I believe this arrangement reads well.

I think you can just start with the description without saying "imagine this", it felt like you were ordering the readers to imagine a beautiful set-up instead of painting the set-up beautifully by yourself, y'know what I mean?

The siblings are having meaningless squabbles about which colors are better than others.

While the sibling's argument was meaningless, the same could not be said for their parents.


You mention the "meaningless argument" twice. You decide which one to keep and which to discard.

I never heard you, or perhaps you forgot to tell me.” the father replies, struggling to keep his temper under control.



I never heard you? That's the best thing he could say to defend himself. Wow!

spins on his heel, then storms out of the house.


I'm not sure if it's the best description. They just had a heating argument and the dad has had enough and "he spins on his heel"? All I could say at the moment was, "Urgh, what a diva."

And then Daniel comes home with divorce papers, I understand how you have shown the fights between mom and dad to minimal, I mean-- you show the argument, the final one, that drove them apart but as a reader I don't feel the hatred they have for each other. You can remunerate similar fights, it's the best thing about third-person narration. You have the third eye to the story, if it were in the POV of Sara, then it's understandable. She was young and all she could think of was that one fight, but it isn't her POV. You have room to elaborate under these circumstances, that will push the story forward.

Time stamp: instead of telling us that Sara is 14 and is carrying the burden of her family, you can show us. There is this wonderful article Show and Tell that I think you'll be benefited from. Do read it.


Otherwise, lovely read. Keep up the good work. PM me if you need any clarification of anything in general.

Keep writing.

Cheers!




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Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:04 am
IsProcrastinator wrote a review...



Hello there. I hope you're doing well.
I'll start by saying that this was beautiful and deep. The comparison between depression and a rose losing its petals was truly unique.
The opening paragraph actually made me look back at my own life, and the things I took for granted. It's a good thing because it was not only relatable for the reader, but also makes them stop and rethink their own life choices.
There's only one thing I thought was a little odd. The parents divorced over a small argument, about buying their childrens' clothes. The father stormed out and that very day and brought the divorce papers, that I think was a bit drastic measure for a small disagreement.
Other than that, I really loved it. It was sad how Sara took her own life and her mother failed to see how depressed she was earlier.

This line:

“Too often is the case that people insult, glare, joke, ignore and hurt one another without even considering that the victim might be nearing that last petal.”

This part was my favourite. I think this truly shows your deep understanding of depression and how it affects a person's mind.

Overall, I really loved it, and the narrating style too.

Keep writing!




salia4 says...


I had the same thought about the parents squabble, so I decided that it showed a lot of underlying tension between the parents. It was a short story I wrote a couple years ago for an assignment, thanks for your feedback, its always appreciated!




Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.
— Sir James Dewar, Scientist