A small gesture

A small gesture

A Story by LadySoDivine
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About a teenage boy, being shut out from his family and being replaced by his younger sibling. And also about his dear friend that pulls him out when he falls down.

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A small gesture

A small gesture can make a great difference in a persons life.

 


They allow you to have the happiness that you can’t really afford.

 


And they are given to you by those people that truly matter.

 

- 

 


“Ethan! Time for breakfast!’’

 

The called young man opened his eyes slowly at the sound of his mother’s voice coming from the other side of his closed bedroom door. He glanced at the clock on the small table beside his bed.

 

7.00 am.

 

The same time his parents woke him up every morning.

 

Although, he thought it was going to be different today.

 

He got out of bed and continued with his usual morning routine: take a shower, brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then go to the library if he didn't have any study sessions. He was already down the stairs and on his way to the kitchen when someone caught up to him.

 

“Ethan!’’

 

Sterling.


Sterling was his little, 14-year-old brother, who was born when Ethan was 4. Since his birth, Ethan was shunned out and pushed to the background in his house. He still had somewhat of a closeness with his mother, but his cold father cared not to even bother with his older son, unless it was talk about the future and his studies.

 

“Yes, little brother?’’ Ethan turned around with a warm smile to greet his younger sibling.

 

Sterling returned his smile with an excited grin. “Do you have to study today, big brother?’’

 

The older male already knew where this was going. If he said he did have to study, Sterling would be disappointed and probably sulk for the rest of the day. If he said he didn’t, his little brother would beg him to hang out with him. So, there was only one way out of a situation like this.

 

Try to find an excuse that won’t hurt his feelings.

 

“I’m still not sure. I’ll check after breakfast. If I have no other obligations, I’ll see if I can find time for you.’’ Ethan looked down and smiled at the little boy in front of him as he poked his forehead with his index finger. Sterling looked like he was about to cry from sheer joy at his brother’s statement.

 

“Thank you, Ethan!’’

 

This sort of kindness naturally earned him a bear hug from his younger brother. He returned it with a tap on Sterlings' head. He never really was someone who liked to hug.

 

“Let’s go eat before mother gets mad.’’ Ethan commented as he continued his path to the kitchen with an overly happy Sterling walking--or moreover, skipping--right beside him.

 

Ethan spared one last glance at his oblivious brother.

 

Looks like he forgot...

 

-

 

“Good morning, boys!’’ Marilyn greeted them the moment they entered the kitchen.


Marilyn was a beautiful woman, married to a dispassionate, sometimes cruel man. And with years that she spent with him, sadly, she picked up a few of his traits as well. But she was still able to remain loving towards her children. Most of the time.

 

“Morning, mother.’’ Ethan nodded his head at their mother as he turned to their father. “Father.’’

 

“Good morning, mom!’’ Sterling smiled at his mother excitedly. “Good morning, dad!’’

 

Fred was sitting in his chair by the table reading the morning newspaper (probably on the economy section, like always) and only gave them a grunt and a nod in recognition, his eyes never leaving the paper in his hands.

 

“Alright, kids. Eat up. Today’s a special day so I made special breakfast.’’

 

Ethan shot a look toward his mother. His eyes lit up in hope--

 

Fred nodded his head. “Yes. It’s Sterlings' last day of eighth grade. I heard your grades are remarkable. I’m proud of you.’’

 

--Although it died away as quickly as it came.

 

“Thank you, dad!’’ The young boy grinned at his fathers’ recognition. His eyes drifted to the other male in the room whos' recognition he also needed. “Big brother... We’re having our grades handed out to us on special laminated paper today after classes and Mr. Ian said we could bring a few of our family members. Will you be there?’’

 

The young males' eyes studied his little brother. Did none of them even bother to remember?

 

I guess I’m not as important to them as I let myself believe.

 

A weak smile...

 

“Of course, Sterling.’’

 

I guess I was wrong to assume they would even try to make this special.

 

...A hidden suffering...

 

“Thank you, Ethan!’’

 

I guess I should have expected this.

 

...An unseen pain...


“That’s so nice of you to be there for your brother, Ethan! All three of us will be there, sweetie, don't worry!’’

 

It’s not like they ever bothered to remember anything that excluded their precious Sterling.

 

...An unheard cry for help...

 

“You and dad will be there too, mom?’’ The little raven haired boy looked at his mother expectantly.

 

“We’ll be there Sterling.’’ Fred answered for his wife.

 

I guess they never really cared at all.

 

What sort of parents are they if they can’t even remember something like this?

 

If it was Sterling, of course, something like this never would have happened.

 

It’s impossible that they haven’t stopped for one second just to glance at the calendar.

 

Didn’t they see the date?

 

Or was it so unimportant to them that they forgot what it even meant?

 

It’s 9th June.

 

And I didn’t even get a lousy ’Happy Birthday’ from any of them.

 

And you call this a family.

 

...A hurting soul everyone seemed to forget about.

 


 

Ethan walked slowly over to the library. It turned out he was needed there for a studying session today after all. He wasn’t too thrilled about it, but if it meant getting out of the house, he was fine with it. When he turned around a corner, where he passed Sterlings' school, and not really paying attention to where he was going, he bumped into a figure almost halfway smaller than him.

 

“Ah! I'm really sorry, Ethan! I didn’t see you there!’’ A short brown haired little girl bowed her head down as she apologized for something that was clearly his fault as much as it was hers.

 

He smiled tiredly at his young friend. Sarah was a girl that went to class with Sterling. She was the same age as him and she often came to their house to play with Sterling when they were little. Fred, being the traditional (read: outdated) man that he was, his primary intention was to create a bond between the girl and his youngest son, so he could later on in their lives play match-maker’’ because that would go in his favor.


The fact that the smart, rather mature girl was more fond and closer to his elder son from the very start, was not part of his plan.

 

“Don’t apologize, Sarah. I wasn’t focusing on where I was going. I would have bumped into someone sooner or later. What are you doing here this early in the morning? Your classes don’t start for another half hour.’’

 

Sarah blushed, realizing she didn't really have a back-up reason for being here this early. Her little 11-year-old brain racked itself, trying to find an excuse, but in the end all she was able to mutter out were incoherent mumbles.

 

“Um... Well, you see, I... Um, that is... Um...’’ the little girl fumbled for words, but in the end, found none.

 

She would have continued on with her little mind torture if she didn’t hear her elder friends' masculine chuckle, the one she always heard from him when he found something amusing.

 

“What’s so funny?!’’ Sarah huffed, blushing even more as she looked up at him angrily.

 

“I’m sorry, Sarah,’’ he apologized honestly, still lightly smirking. “It’s just that... Even when I’m in the worst possible mood, you seem to find a way to cheer me up.’’

 

The girl was surprised she didn’t pass out.

 

“Re-really?’’ she was truly dumbfounded.

 

“Yes, really.’’ He smiled kindly at her. It was one of those rare smiles he had that he saved for the occasions when he was truly happy.

 

“Well, Sarah, I must be going now. I shouldn’t be late. Perhaps we’ll see each other later?’’ The teenage boy patted her on the head as he already started walking.

 

“Yes... Wait! Ethan!’’ The little girl suddenly remembered why she was near the school in the first place which made him turn towards her once again.

 

“Yes?’’

 

“Um...’’ She searched for words once again as she pulled the small rectangle shaped item wrapped in red wrapping paper with green ribbons on it. She blushed more than she ever had in her entire life and practically pushed the gift into his hands as she bowed her head, trying to hide her embarrassment from him.

 

Ethan was very surprised, to say the least.

 

He took the gift into his hands and for the first time... he didn’t know what to say.

 

He just stood there, looking back and forth between the item in his grasp and the red faced girl in front of him that looked as if she was about to cry from the humiliation.

 

Psh. Like she has anything to be embarrassed about.

 

Finally she looked up at him with that special gleam in her lime green eyes.

 

“Happy birthday, Ethan!’’ She smiled sweetly at him, trying to control her blush.

 

“I know it’s not much, and I’m really sorry if you don’t like it, but I’ve been racking my brain on what to get you for your birthday, because you already have everything, and you always say how gifts should be something useful but also something the person likes, and maybe you don’t really need it, but I just thought you’d like it, I mean I’m sure your parents and Sterling got you something much nicer, but it really is from the heart, Ethan, it really is! And also...’’ Sarah kept on ranting, barely even stopping to take a breath.

 

Part of him was listening to her, but right now most of his focus was on unwrapping his gift. He slowly took off the ribbons and pulled at the paper, careful not to not to rip it. For some reason, he wanted to keep the paper and felt like it would be disrespectful to tear it so jauntily. After he removed the last piece of the shiny green wrapper, he stared wide-eyed at the object in his hands.

 

He gripped it tightly as he, for some reason unknown to him, felt tears gather in his usually emotionless eyes.

 

He looked at the book and the small white piece of paper on top of it. The title read Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943

 

It’s the book I wanted.

 

Ethan recalled taking the same book, only much older with some torn pages from the public library, but he always had to return it before he could study it entirely. He was fascinated by wars, politics and the World War II specially. He thought that Hitler was a military genius, despite his wrong ways and inhumanity. He constantly thought of ways how to get the book for his permanent keeping, but the librarian refused to sell it or to extend his borrowing of the book. He could never finish it completely and take in the knowledge from it.

 

But the thing is... he never told her about it.

 

Not once did he mention to Sarah about his fascination with WWII and its battles. Specially not about this specific book.

 

And yet, that’s exactly what she bought him.

 

“Sarah...’’ The teenage boy finally spoke up.

 

This snapped the little girl back to reality and stopped her ranting. “Yes?’’ She looked at him with hoping eyes.

 

“Why this book?’’

 

Sarah stopped and blinked for a second, and then she gave him her most radiant smile.

 

“Because I thought you’d like it!’’

 

“But how"’’

 

“Ethan, I would really love to stay and chat with you here all day, but I need to go home, otherwise my mom will be super-mad.’’ She said simply, before turning to leave.

 

“Sarah!’’

 

“Yes?’’ she glanced back over her shoulder.

 

A small smile.


“Thank you.’’ Sarah has never seen such kindness in her friends’ eyes.

 

A giant grin.

 

“Any time, buddie!’’

 

And with that she ran towards her house.

 

Ethan stood there on the street corner for a few more minutes after she left, simply looking at the book. Then he realized he didn’t read the note she left on the cover. He quickly unfolded it and read her childish hand-writing.

 

Dearest Ethan,

 

Happy birthday!

 

I just wanted to give you something special, because you are a very special person.

 

I used to be afraid from all the mean kids picking on me in class. But after I met you, I wasn’t scared anymore! You taught me that I should stand up for myself because I am smart and strong and I have nothing to be embarrassed about. And you told me that if those cruel, jealous people continue picking on me, you will always be there when I can’t protect myself.

 

So, I just wanted to say...

 

Thank you.

 

Love, Sarah

 

He gripped the book tighter and tighter with each word, and by the end of it, he truly felt like crying.

 

I mustn’t. Strong men should never show their emotions.

 

He repeated the-way-of-life-of-his-father in his head several times before composing himself, putting the book carefully into his bag and walked straight forward into the library.

 


 

The mass of people in the yard of the school stood silently as they watched the children receive their awards.

 

Mothers looked lovingly and attentively, fathers glared pridefully and sternly, siblings watched with either envy or gleam in their eyes...

 

But big brothers weren’t very focused on their own siblings.

 

Ethan stood on his mothers’ left side, considering he usually refuses to stand next to Fred unless it’s absolutely necessary. He looked on, rather uninterested, through the crowd searching for Sterlings’ face. He found it easily, since they put the top students in the first row. This was also convenient considering that Sarah was also one of the top students. She was standing right next to Sterling.

 

Perfect.

 

This way he could keep an eye on both of them, without catching his dreaded fathers’ attention.

 

“Oh this is such a special day!’’ Marilyn clasped her hands together in joy. “I must remember this day! Ethan honey, what date is it today?’’

 

The male snapped back to his senses and remembered that his family still hasn’t remembered his birthday. Hopefully this will bring some senses back to them. If nothing, at least to his mother.

 

“It’s 9th June, mother.’’ He said cooly, with just a hint of displeasure in his monotone voice.

 

Marilyn didn’t realize it at once and simply continued to watch her younger son. But after a matter of seconds her eyes widened in horror, realizing what had happened.

 

“Ethan...’’

 

“Yes, mother?’’

 

“Is today...?’’

 

“Yes it is, mother.’’

 

Silence.


Awful, cursed, deafening silence.


All I wanted was a reaction.

 

The kind of silence that was worse than a scream right in your ear.


A simple congratulation of some sort. Not even a gift.

 

And there it was.


But, no. Not even that.

 

Nothing.


Nothing.

 

Marilyn averted her eyes away from her son and tried to have a conversation with her husband. Of course, during this whole 1 minute conversation, Fred didn’t even realize what they were speaking of. Ethan thought he didn’t even register them talking at all. Why would he? It had nothing to do with him.

 

God forbid you remember to show compassion to your older son, father. But I’m not your son anymore, am I? I’m just the one who was born first, right? The one who will do all the hard work while dearest Sterling only enjoys the after effects of my doings.

 

But that’s alright. It’s not the first time you people treat me as if you found me on the street and not gave birth to me.

 

I’m used to it.

 

His face was slowly going from monotone to enraged. His eyes were sharp and his teeth gritted.

 

And then he saw it.

 

She turned around.

 

She looked for someone.

 

She looked for him.

 

And she found him.

 

And she bestowed him one of those radiant smiles of hers’.

 

And that was all he needed.

 

I don’t care about you wretched people anymore.

 

I needed someone to care for me. To be proud of me.

 

To be there for me.

 

And I found that person.

 

So the rest of you are no longer important.

 

Because she’s the one that matters.


She’s my piece of happiness.

© 2013 LadySoDivine


Author's Note

LadySoDivine
A story of a strong bond between two people of different ages. They are both different and cast out from their environment in their own ways, and the only thing that they have and can truly rely on is - each other.

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Featured Review

A very good story. You are a very good writer. I like the way you set-up the friendship and the gift. I like the conversation with the mother. Sometime we need to find reasons to know happiness in better places. Thank you for sharing the excellent story.
Coyote

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

A very good story. You are a very good writer. I like the way you set-up the friendship and the gift. I like the conversation with the mother. Sometime we need to find reasons to know happiness in better places. Thank you for sharing the excellent story.
Coyote

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I think this is a really thoughtful piece, and I can imagine that you put a lot of work into it. Well done! It's really payed off. I like the thought process Ethan has in italics and the way that it is slightly disjointed - it really makes the different narrative voices stand out. My only comment would be that I think it's a little odd for Sarah to be 11. She's too mature for that age. You could still work with your message but maybe have her older, and therefore Ethan older too? That way I think it would work better, especially considering they talk very rigid/formally with each other (including within Ethan's family). Great work, I think it really has potential with just a few aspects looked at :D

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

LadySoDivine

7 Years Ago

Yes yes, I know, you're right, I thought of changing the ages too. It would be a bit better I guess... read more
Storm K.

7 Years Ago

I understand the reasons behind why Ethan talks like that with his Mum and Dad, but maybe he could b.. read more
LadySoDivine

7 Years Ago

Yes, actually he may not show it much, but he doesn't hate his little brother. He's there for him wh.. read more

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Added on April 2, 2013
Last Updated on April 2, 2013

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LadySoDivine
LadySoDivine

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Hi there. :) I'm an 18-year-old girl and I simply love to write. I made an account here to hear some objective opinions on my writing and to share my thoughts with fellow writers of the world. I am a.. more..

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