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 2 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Kathryn Smith

2 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


This is beautiful. Riveting, even. My eyes was glued to my screen. It's captivating and endearing. You should feel very accomplished. Great work :)

Posted 2 Years Ago

I really enjoyed the journey thru this work! very nicely done. If it matters I found one typo if you decide to change it in this line: "As children all we went is to be adults.". Obviously not a big deal, just thought I'd point it out. All in all a very moving work.

Posted 2 Years Ago

That nice feelings, I appreciate so

Posted 2 Years Ago

Interesting. I honestly don't believe I had such a childhood. I don't even believe that I was allowed such a childhood. But I believe that I am partially to blame for that. Now, as a teenager, all I want to be is an adult. I want to learn. I want to become strong. I want to become responsible for once in my life. I want to face the world and I never want to look back, for looking back distracts you from what lies ahead and prevents you from being prepared for it. I want to live as who I am and who I will grow up to be. I do wish I had actually lived as a child of the American Dream, but that wish can never be granted, and I find it best that it stay that way. I am going to be an adult and I am going to enter into the future with confidence. Remaining in my youthful mindset will only trip me and cause me to fall. All I have now is whatever I have left and it is from that I will grow for myself a new life.

Posted 2 Years Ago

One word: WOW. This was amazing.

Posted 2 Years Ago

I am intrigued and confused. The feelings you have for this boy and the memories are very real, like he is your little brother growing up. But he isn' describe the emotional process of letting go of a child to let him become a man in exquisite detail.

Posted 2 Years Ago

Kathryn Smith

2 Years Ago

Thanks for the great review! His family are family friends of my family. My mother runs a daycare an.. read more
Philip Muls

2 Years Ago

i see...excellent vantage point.
Kathryn Smith

2 Years Ago

Thank you! :)
This was really quite beautiful. It captured perfectly the nostalgia of a childhood quickly rushing away into the distance, leaving a trail of memories bright as gems behind it. It made me reflect on all those little things I remember from my childhood, and that's quite a powerful effect to have. There were a few cliché's that brushed at me as I read through it, but cliché's are cliché's for a reason aren't they?

Posted 2 Years Ago

wow...what an emotional piece written beautifully. sincerely amazing

Posted 2 Years Ago

That was so beautiful it. had me in tears
this was well written and had me from beginning
to end you have extrem talent

Posted 2 Years Ago

Truly beautiful, but so deep and emotional. Quite a story for sure.
Written straight from your heart that is plain to see.
The way you describe Mathew is beautiful.
Wonderful piece.
Really enjoyed the read :)

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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