Failure to Thrive

This was written a while back for the Reedsy.com prompt “Write about someone who keeps picking up different hobbies but never manages to stick with them.” It was a bit of a darker take on someone have problems with executive function, and maybe depression depending on how you look at it.


She stood in the middle of the store staring longingly at the brightly colored package.  She wanted to try it, it was a simple thing, such an incredibly simple thing. Made for children really, but she wanted it anyways. It was a beginner’s kit of sculpting clay. She turned and hurried from the store, sad in a way she couldn’t explain. She wasn’t good with clay; she had tried many times before and it never quite turned out the way she wanted it to.

When she arrived home she entered, and looked at the bins of crafting supplies filling her storage room, her face heating as shame flushed through her body. She had made the right decision, she didn’t need a new hobby, she had enough that she had picked up a never finished. 

She sighed, looking at the baskets of laundry piled by the end of the bed, she really needed to do that. She headed for the kitchen, hungry, but opened and closed the refrigerator door without taking anything. Cooking was a lot, and it was too much right now, maybe later when she was hungrier it wouldn’t be so hard. 

She wandered to the living room listless, past the sewing machine she had gotten to make a costume that had never gotten made. She was sewing last year, shortly after the painting, but before the home-made Christmas ornaments. At least she finished some of the ornaments before she moved on. 

She wasn’t tired. She had only been up a few hours, had breakfast, taken that quick shopping trip, but now it was like all the motivation for the day was gone. She ended up laying on the couch, staring at the ceiling. She reached out and grabbed the remote, flicking on the tv. She pressed enter on whatever she was watching before, not caring what was playing, not even really enjoying what was being played, but she knew she couldn’t just stare at the ceiling.

She didn’t know how long she laid there, until her eyes finally focused on the project barely started on the table. Apparently the key to crochet was to learn making a simple square, but she never made it past a few rows. It was like every time she picked it up she was starting from scratch, her clumsy fingers not knowing how to hold the hook and the yarn without dropping one of the two.

It took two episodes but she managed to get herself sitting, half way through the next one she finally reached out and pressed pause. She picked up the crochet hooks, and turned on a YouTube tutorial for what felt like the 37th time. It was embarrassing, at this point, how many times she had tried to do this. She had tried to pick up this hobby before, but when she told people about it she didn’t get encouragement, or accountability, there were jeers of laughter and bets of how long she would keep it up this time.

They didn’t understand, never understood how hard it was for her. Not just to do this, but to do anything. Some days even her favorite things were out of reach. She just couldn’t start. She knew if she could start, she could do it, but even knowing that she couldn’t make herself get up and move.

Today she could try and crochet. For 15 minutes, that’s what she told herself. She had set the timer, and told herself she would try for 15 minutes, and then she could be done. Some days it even worked. Some days she was able to go those 15 minutes. Some days 15 minutes became 30. 

The trouble was she knew what would come. The days where even the idea of just 15 minutes was too much. And that when she missed the first day it would be easier to miss the next, and the project would gather dust. The sight of it untouched would finally drive her to hide it away in a box to escape its haunting presence. Or she would jam it there before family came to visit, not wanting to reveal she was starting something new. Not being able to handle the pressure of having to deliver a badly formed square to face ridicule from people expected far too much of her most days.

She even knew what box it would go in, the one with the scarf, ¾ finished, but never to be completed. She had the yarn, but the coat that it matched had been long since retired, and it seemed pointless now to finish it. She couldn’t get rid of it either though, and free up the loom. It felt too much like giving up.

Her fingers failed her again, as she missed the loop and unravelled part of her square by accident. She sighed, pressing pause on the video as she tried to make sense of what she had done, and went back to the beginning. Three more attempts were made before the timer went off and this time she was relieved. 

She thought of the dishes in the sink, the sheets that needed to be changed, the dusting that needed to be done, and she laid back down. It was too much right now. She flicked the TV back on and resumed the show, mindlessly watching another pointless medical drama, not quite following the plot, but knowing when she went to work tomorrow, it would be easier to explain she binge watched an entire season of a show, than to admit she spent almost her entire day unable to get off the couch because she just couldn’t start anything.

She wouldn’t admit her failure to thrive, that she was beaten by a hook and some yarn. That she longed to create, but couldn’t get up, couldn’t go through those boxes and find something. That she had wanted to clean her apartment, and try sculpting clay, and walk in one day with new mittens and say “Oh these, just whipped them up this weekend.” 

Wouldn’t admit that the reason she wouldn’t take video calls wasn’t that she was in pajamas, but that she had a pile of boxes she couldn’t get the will to unpack since her latest move in the background and didn’t want to hear about them, yet again. That she didn’t want to let anyone know that her apartment was such a mess, she was beginning to fear she would get bugs.

She had managed to get her clothes cleaned, and a lunch assembled, and while she was 15 minutes late because she couldn’t get out of bed, she made it. She was at work, a smile plastered on her face, lying about how much she enjoyed “just relaxing” this weekend. If only anyone knew how much she longed for actual relaxation. She played the part, and she played it well. And maybe, just maybe, if she still wanted it next weekend she would stop by and pick up that package of clay. She would deserve it, after a whole week of this. And as long as no one else knew, what was one more failed hobby.

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