Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Realistic

E - Everyone

I miss you.

by tgham99

I hadn’t expected an afternoon of spring cleaning to lead to an endless wave of nostalgia, but that’s exactly what I got when mom asked me to clean out your closet after you were gone.

It's my own fault, really. I'd unintentionally fooled her into thinking that I was making progress, and that I was even able to spend a few minutes at a time in your room without a barrage of tears threatening to betray my confident demeanor. I'd made her think that I was immune to your absence.

I’m on my knees, wrestling the door of your closet open and waving away the flurry of dust bunnies that floods out, when I see the sliver of a Polaroid edge peeking out from underneath the dresser we’d shoved in there in the height of dad’s carpentry phase.

I lean forward and slide the Polaroid out, only half expecting the photo to be another record of your wild high school Friday nights. Or maybe it would be a picture of you and that old boyfriend of yours that none of us really liked. With all the mistakes you’ve made in your life, I wouldn’t be surprised if this picture was just another record of it.

After blowing away the thick layer of dust that cakes the surface of the Polaroid, I give it a good shake and bring it into focus. The once-glossy texture of the Polaroid paper is still intact, but the frayed corners and inconspicuous location imply that this picture captured a moment you’d wanted to forget.

But when my eyes drift towards the messy handwriting that labels the scene captured, I feel my throat suddenly tighten, and a heavy weight befalls my chest.

Christmas 2001. Adri & me under tree

It’s a picture of you and I sitting cross-legged underneath the artificial Christmas tree that mom insists on dragging out every year. I’m wearing my archetypal Mickey footie pajamas, a displeased frown adorning my face. Clearly, the 2001 version of me was going through something.. or multiple somethings, by the look on my face. Or maybe I was just upset that another year had gone by without mom allowing me to choose the lawn decorations on my own.

The lights on the tree are incredibly bright, which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the photo. It occurs to me that this was probably taken by dad, someone who had no idea how to bring anyone into focus. Or maybe mom had just splurged on some higher quality LED lights that year.

But the star of the picture is by far you, Hannah.

You’re sitting there, a giant grin spread across your face, your hands latched around a perfectly wrapped Christmas present, complete with a giant red bow. With your red Santa hat and snowman slippers, you’re the stunning image of a happy kid on Christmas morning.

My mind is suddenly plagued with memories of our Christmases together. You, being the older sibling, would always be awake first, skipping down the stairs to get to the presents before anyone else had dared step out of their warm beds. In your glee, you’d throw yourself underneath the tree and holler for everyone else to join you, and of course, we’d all oblige to keep you from ripping open the first gifts by yourself. How could we ever say no to you?

I’d traipse down the stairs after you, still rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I struggled to wake myself up – your contagious cheerfulness helped a lot with this particular difficulty. It would be around 7 a.m., no earlier and no later, and while mom brewed the coffee for herself and dad (we were far too young to have coffee, they always said), the festivities would begin.

It’s amidst this overwhelming wave of nostalgia that I realize that my fingers have instinctively tightened around the Polaroid. In my own reflection, I must have felt the familiar creep of fear and isolation invade my mind subconsciously. Now, as my unflinching grip on the photo threatens to ruin  this glossy immortalization of a once happy duo of sisters, I’m forced to realize that it’s not the photo that I’m hopelessly clinging to.

It’s the very idea of you, Hannah, that I’m so desperate to hold onto.

The holidays haven’t been the same since you left us, Han, and I’m sure that you know it, wherever you are. Mom and dad still make coffee on Christmas morning, and there are still presents waiting for me under the tree, but there’s a hole where your warm presence should be. We still send out a Christmas card (something that mom insists on doing to give us “closure”), but my smile feels less and less genuine every year. Snow and black ice still cake the grass and the streets outside, but you’re not there to make a snarky comment about how much colder it gets every year.

The Polaroid in my hand suddenly feels heavy, as though I’m carrying the entire weight of our lifetime together. I’m looking around the room suddenly, still clutching the photo in my hand. I can’t help myself – every now and then, I give the room a quick scan, hoping fervently that you’ll be there in the corner to scold me for going through your things. Or you’ll be irritated with my inability to brush my hair the right way, and you’ll drag me into the bathroom to show me how to “be a real girl”.

Right now, I can’t stop myself from hoping that you’ll come snatch the Polaroid out of my hand and stick it in a memory box, or wherever you keep the most important glimpses into your life away from prying eyes.

I miss the sound of your voice, even when you were lecturing me about why I wasn't good at the same things you were good at.

I miss the way you used to coax me into making amends with mom and dad after a fight, even though I was perpetually angry about doing so.

I miss the fact that you were mature enough to guide me through life's tougher moments, but lighthearted enough to lift me out of my own darkness.

I miss the way that your presence lit up the room, and how your gentle touch saved me from slipping through the cracks of my most difficult days.

I miss you, Hannah.

Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.

Is this a review?



User avatar
90 Reviews

Points: 2768
Reviews: 90

Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:39 am
LZPianoGirl wrote a review...

**My Thoughts**

Hey! LZ here with a review! I liked this story. It was short enough for me to read quickly, yet you wrote it very well! There was a lot of detail and I enjoyed how much information you put in this sad story.

**Formatting and Grammar**

I can't say much about the formatting, it was good! I am glad you broke it up into paragraphs, it was very easy to read that way! This is optional (as I usually don't do it myself), but you could indent. It would make it look a little neater and formal. But, if you don't want to, you don't have to.

The grammar in this piece was great! I didn't catch anything wrong and nothing stood out to me.

**Punctuation and Capitalization**

I didn't catch anything out of the ordinary for punctuation. You did complete punctuation, there was nothing wrong (that I could see)! As for capitalization, I didn't catch anything either!

**Quick Review**

Nothing really stood out to me as incorrect, but you could add indents! Have a good 2020 and keep on writing!

tgham99 says...

Thanks for your review! I'll definitely consider indenting with my next piece that tends to be a little bit longer to see if it helps clean things up/make it smoother to read significantly.

User avatar
44 Reviews

Points: 3165
Reviews: 44

Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:07 am
jster02 wrote a review...

This story feels sort of like a letter or a diary entry written by the main character. It feels like we're getting a glimpse into a real person's private thoughts and feelings. I found it especially interesting how there wasn't much action throughout. The story was told mostly through flashbacks and the main character's inner dialogue. The only thing that really happens is them cleaning out their sister's old room, but you did a good job of encapsulating how hard a task that really is, and what it means to the protagonist.

I especially loved the ending, how the protagonist said all the ways they miss Hannah. You took the title of the story, the first thing the reader sees, and used it again at the end, bringing the story full circle. The repetition of "I miss you," was a nice bit of parallel structure. You reminded us of what this story was about: a girl missing her big sister.

I have to say, I really liked this story. There were only a few things I found that bugged me, none of them major enough to really detract from the work. For one thing, I was a little confused about this sentence:

...when I see the sliver of a Polaroid edge peeking out from underneath the dresser we’d shoved in there in the height of dad’s carpentry phase.

I just wasn't quite sure what was being shoved into where in this sentence. My guess is that the dresser was being shoved into the bedroom, but I had to reread the sentence a couple of times to figure that out.

I also noticed that the photograph said it was from 2001, but the protagonist referred to herself in the picture as her "2010 version." I'm assuming this was just a typo, but I figured I may as well point it out.

The only other little nitpick I had was that the photo had "Hannah and me" written on it, when, presumably, Hannah was the one doing the writing. It seemed weird to me that she would refer to herself in the third-person. Unless, of course, it was the protagonist who wrote on the picture, but that doesn't make much sense either since it's Hannah's camera.

Those were my only gripes. They didn't bug me that much, I just figured I'd point them out. I would like to point out one more thing I liked about this story before I wrap this up, though. I noticed that you never once mentioned what happened to Hannah in the first place. I kept wondering whether she was dead, or had run away, or just left for college. I assume it's one of the first two, but I couldn't quite be sure. When I got to the end of the story, I realized that it really doesn't matter what happened. The story is about the protagonist missing their sister, and we don't need to know all the details to understand that. I'd be willing to bet you chose to withhold that information deliberately; a very interesting choice on your part.

You did good with this, and I hope to read more of your work soon. Have a nice day!


tgham99 says...

Thank you for your very helpful review!! You pointed out a lot of little errors/inconsistencies that I'm going to go back and edit (serves me right for never proof-reading anything ever..).

I loved your feedback and I'm happy to hear that I was on the right track. Thank you again!!

jster02 says...

You're welcome! I can certianly relate to not proofreading things before posting them. Even when I do wind up doing it, I still miss a lot of grammar and punctuation errors.

User avatar
103 Reviews

Points: 7205
Reviews: 103

Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:03 am
neptune wrote a review...

Hello there!

The theme of nostalgia and memories was very beautiful in this piece. I like how effortlessly you weaved from present-day to past memories – sometimes I feel like that can be tricky and mess up the flow, but the writing was fluid and natural! I appreciated how this was directed with "you" rather than "her" because I felt a stronger sense of closeness and attachment to the narrator. :D

I’m on my knees, wrestling the door of your closet open and waving away the flurry of dust bunnies that floods out, when I see the sliver of a Polaroid edge peeking out from underneath the dresser we’d shoved in there in the height of dad’s carpentry phase.

This was a long sentence! It is slightly wordy towards the end, considering there is little punctuation, but I liked the actual writing. I would suggest perhaps cutting the sentence in two or separating it with a semicolon!
After blowing away the thick layer of dust that cakes the surface of the Polaroid, I give it a good shake and bring it into focus.

I felt like the second part of this sentence was a little awkward of a phrasing/choice of words? I guess you can shake a Polaroid to get the dust off of it, but I find it weird to "bring it into focus".

Overall, I liked the writing style you have! You have a good general balance of descriptions of surroundings and characters (but not too overwhelming!). I almost felt like I could have somewhat more of a closure to the end? Like having more emotions about the polaroid/final reactions (ie. does the narrator continue to hold on to the polaroid, put it back, put it somewhere else, etc?) to really tie together and end off this nostalgic aspect of the story and create a bigger dimension to the character.

This is a solid work! It's simplistic, but it's also a relatable and sweet story. You've created a strong connection between these two characters in a short piece that's very noticeable just from reading about the memories.

I think that's it! Thanks for sharing your writing and I hope this was helpful!

tgham99 says...

Thank you so much for your review!! The two quotes you pulled were actually the exact same spots that I struggled with writing and rewriting before I submitted it, so I'm glad to have some feedback on these portions of the story in particular. I struggle a lot with wordiness in general so I'm always looking for ways to improve on that.

In terms of closure, you're absolutely right -- I left this story more open because I'm not sure if I ever want to come back to it and work on it some more, so that's a faulty decision on my end.

All in all this is a very helpful review, and I thank you for your comments! <3

neptune says...

Of course! And I think it is good that you left the ending more open if you do end up coming back to it and adding on (it makes it easier on your part)!

To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it.
— Olin Miller