The Matthew Effect

The Matthew Effect

A Story by Kathryn Smith

I can't explain the state that I'm in 

The state of my heart
He was my best friend 

All of my powers, day after day 

I can tell you; we swaggered and swayed
Deep in the tower

 The prairies below

I can tell you

 The telling gets old

Terrible sting and terrible storm

 My friend is gone


H e   r a n   a w a y

I can tell you that it was a wondrous work of art. A vision that I'll never forget.

For a moment, time froze.

As I was driving away from my friends grave, I saw a lone figure in the distance. 

He was walking slowly towards me, down the long and dusty country road.

As I got closer, I noticed that the person in the hazy summer heat had familiar golden skin and short, wavy, beachy blonde hair.

He was a tall, skinny adolescent boy in a black shirt.

His eyes were glued to the ground as he walked along.

He looked as if he was painfully lonely or deep in thought.

When I realized who it was, something hit me in the stomach.

My heart could've burst into a proud happiness and awe.

This boy was Matthew.

The only person I have fully witnessed grow up.

The only boy I can visibly remember at each age.

The reason why my heart wanted to burst into tears was because in two days, Matthew would be turning 15.

It feels like it was just yesterday my mother and I went to the hospital to meet him.

Only my mother was allowed to see the baby, so I waited in the hallway very disappointed.

Suddenly I heard the door crack.

I looked up to find my mother crouched down in the doorway holding a blanket of blue.

She whispered and told me to hurry up.

I swiftly crept up to the doorway and peered into the crack.

Matthew was the first newborn I had ever seen.

He was stunningly beautiful.

As years passed Matthew broke the mold of "The 3 musketeers"

His older twin brothers and I were best friends.

As he got older, The 3 musketeers turned to the 4 musketeers.

One more boy made fighting dragons easier.

He made rampaging through the forest more fun.

There were more squeals and battle cries.

There was bravery.

There was fear.

Losses and victories.

Laughter and wonder.

We were in love.

In love with the world we created as a team.

When I think of childhood, I think of Matthew.

He could be a poster child for the classic American boy.

He was a kid who was a walking and talking dictionary and GPS.

He was obsessed with big words and roads.

He could tell endless jokes. 

Matthew once held my attention telling a joke that lasted 20 minutes..when really the joke was making me listen for that long.

He carried around automated toy birds and couldn't get enough of nature and the world around him.

Through his bright green eyes, I've seen his kind soul.

I've seen his pain and joy.

His sadness and happiness.

In May, at his brother's graduation party, I noticed he retreated to the corner and didn't seem very sociable.

Something didn't seem right at all.

The little boy Matthew I knew so well was long gone.

The boy who made my world full of adventure.

The kid who made me feel like I had a real little brother.

Now he was diving headfirst into the adult world, but resisting.  

Yet one day in July, he came for a visit. He chirped away like the old times.

His eyes sparkled again and I thought his mouth might break from smiling.

Matthew couldn't get a word in between his twin brothers.

He was stung by a burning nettle plant and I was alarmed at how worried I became of him.

The way I turned into a mother for him.

As the youngest child myself, I recognized his pain each time he was interrupted or ignored. I made sure he knew I was listening to every word.

As children, all we want is to be adults.

and now as adults, we'd give anything to go back to being a child. We have to step into the storm whether we like it or not.

Life keeps racing by and we have no choice but to age.

As a child, we are invincible, our imaginations thrive.

Anything can happen and no one can burn us, or let us down.

As children, we do not know death or pain like we do as adults.

The world in our curious eyes is a world of endless possibilities and dreams.

The sky is the limit.

As I watched boyhood walk away in my rearview mirror, I found that experiencing the Matthew Effect was a blessing.

There was no reason to be sad. 

Goodbye and best of luck my little Matthew.

Thank you for the memories.

These roads ahead of you might be filled with terrible storms, stings, and trials, but they are what make you who you are. 

Life is never easy.  

Thank you for being the little brother I never had.

Now go grab the world!

It's all yours.

(The Matthew Effect: The phenomenon of watching a child age and grow into an adult.)


I can tell you, I love him each day

© 2018 Kathryn Smith

Author's Note

Kathryn Smith

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Kathryn, This piece was, in a word, breathtaking. The whole time I thought you were describing a real life little brother but you weaved a tale of the composite result of boy reaching adulthood. Stunning! Your descriptions were so on point and genuine I was actually dreading what I thought the ending would be...the day that Matthew passed away. You structured such a strong 'character' that I saw the progression to my imagined tragic ending. Just an incredible piece of writing! So well done. take care...dan

Posted 3 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Kathryn Smith

3 Years Ago

Thank you so much Dan!! :) It was hard for me to let a little boy go, but I eventually did. We all h.. read more


There are many words of wisdom here that are so observant about the way siblings interact & what it's like to be overshadowed by them sometimes. Your expressions are very free & thought-provoking & relatable. This "matthew effect" is a far-reaching analogy & well spun into your story.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Wow!!...stands for Words of Wonder...You are..a word spin your yarns of words into
An enchanting tale...more mystical than just a take the reader into a magical carpet ride of wonder...truly beautiful writing....Thank You...

Posted 1 Year Ago

I dig it. It definitely paints a picture. I also expected him to die at the end, and when he didn't it through me for a loop. I like loops.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Very nice to see such and endearing dedication. The piece flowed well. Your introduction of Matthew was drawing me to read on, and the good bye brought some gentle closure. Thanks.

Posted 1 Year Ago

This was a great piece. Wonderful descriptions, beautiful reflections. You did a great job of bringing your characters to life here. I would really like to see the artful introduction to be an explanation of the day that boy ran away - it was a bit of a jar going from artful prose to short story; however, it definitely has style.
Great work, and keep writing!

Posted 2 Years Ago

Well firstly, I would just like to say the line about it being easier four fighting dragons was brilliant. That line is right out of that part of the brain that never forgets the wonder of being a child and the adventure it brings.
And you describe so vividly those little thoughts and wonderings we have throughout our lives of all the "Mathew effects" that have touched our world. For such a relatively short piece, you fill this piece completely with memories of who we are and what we want to be, whilst looking back over our shoulder at who we once were. A very lovely write :)

Posted 2 Years Ago

Facing adult hood is no easy task, it can change a person but only for the better. I loved the story and the way it kept you hooked until its end.

Posted 2 Years Ago

That was really a heart - touching story..i liked it..This is one of your best writings and i agree with you that children want to be adults and adults want to be was really very nice..i liked it...keep on writing and thanks for sharing...

Posted 2 Years Ago

This is a wonderful piece of work that had me weaving in and out from one emotion to another. I. like dan, was preparing for a tragic ending.
The voyage through life is a mystical experience filled with joy, sadness, and an array of other experiences. It saddens me to think so much of mine is behind me now, but I'm glad to have been here.

Posted 2 Years Ago

This piece made me moved. What a flow...Damn good..

Posted 2 Years Ago

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45 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on August 9, 2015
Last Updated on July 16, 2018

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