the writing life

Short Story Saturday: The boy in the red shirt

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Every Thursday, the boy in the red shirt was there at the subway station.  He would sit with his back against the wall, his skateboard clutched protectively at his side.  He was probably no more than thirteen. 
Every Thursday.

That was the only day I saw him there.  Never Wednesday, never Monday.  Each crowd of people exiting the sub were intercepted and scanned by his bright green eyes.
Finally one day I sat down opposite him on a bench.  "What are you doing here?"
He blinked and gave me a look that seemed to ask, 'Isn't it obvious?'
When I still looked puzzled, he sighed.  "I'm waiting."

And that was all I got out of him.  The next Thursday, I sat down beside him again with a sandwich for him and one for me.  We said nothing the entire time, which was just fine as far as either of us were concerned.  I might make a comment about a funny shaped hat, or the way that lady laughed, and he would smile and nod.  But then he would go back to watching everything with his green eyes.
So it went, until a month from that first Thursday he finally talked. 
"I'm waiting for my mom."

Five words, but they opened a flood.  "Four months ago, she started to cough.  We thought she just had a cold, but it got worse.  Fast.  Then she had to go to the hospital."
His fingers traced a pattern on his worn skateboard. 
"She hated it there, mum did.  We used to go skateboard before she got sick."
He stopped talking for a few minutes, and I almost got up and left.  But he wasn't done.  "And then one day-" The boy looked at the sub that had just pulled in, his eyes glazed and unseeing.
"She told me that we'd go skateboarding on Thursday.  She said the doctors were all a bunch of grandpas, and no matter what they said she'd take a sub and meet me at the station."

His voice caught.  "But they won't let me see her anymore.  A whole month, and she hasn't come to skateboard.  We don't see her in the hospital at all." His words came faster.  "They say she's gone, but don't tell me where.  Dad and sissy cry all the time, but I know she'll get better."
There was a fierceness in his voice.  "She promised."
There was a small tremble in his last word, and with that I knew that this boy was slowly dying inside.  He knew the truth but was holding out with a stubbornness that made my heart ache. 
"She'll come." He put his hands in his pockets.  "The day is still young."

Then the boy stood up, his skateboard under one arm, and with green eyes set ahead, he walked out of the station.  But I knew he'd be back.  Every Thursday the boy in the red shirt would be there, waiting.  Waiting for someone who would never come. 

You Might Also Like


  1. Woah, I really liked this. Made me want to cry.

    1. Hey thank you! And thanks for commenting!!! You're on the forum, right? Pardon my terrible memory...;)

  2. *sniffles* Oh my goodness...*wipes eyes* That was...intense. In the most wonderful way ever. It mad me wanna crawl into a corner and cry.

    This was beautifully written. I loved it. <3


    1. Awww thank you!!! You are so sweet:) :) And thanks for commenting!

  3. Working through the sadness of this. You really got the emotion across, Chloe! I think that's a sign of a talented writer!

    1. Thanks, Bethany;) This was one of those times where I saw the picture and all of a sudden words were pouring onto the page too fast for me to write them down!!!! ;)

  4. Oh man, this is so sad. I know you know that, but I just thought I'd let you know the melody you're pulling on my heart strings! This is such a unique way to process grief ... great story material and you wrote beautifully!

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment Mary Frances!!!!!!! <3 you guys are so encouraging!

  5. I loved this. I liked how it showed how even that idea of just being there, was okay. The main character didn't really have to say anything, s/he just showed that s/he cared, and eventually he opened up. The last couple sentences were really powerful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. YES! That was another point I kind of wanted to get across. :) no problem. thanks for commenting!

  6. This is beautiful. I've read a lot of short stories, but just reading this made me choke up. It's been a while since I've been affected by a piece of writing like this. Thanks.


Hey! Person commenting! Yes, you. Wanna know something?

You're kinda awesome.