All-American

No idea where this one came from, just another unhappy child moving away to become who they are. I honestly believe you can’t quite make that transition into the person you are meant to be until you leave your childhood home. This is the story of Sam, who left home and became their own person.


She looked down at the pictures of the child dressed up as as the all American little boy, in blue jeans and a red flannel shirt, and it made her squirm. There was a smile on the child’s face, and it wasn’t from happiness, it was from relief that they were allowed to go home.

An entire summer trapped on Uncle Jeb’s farm, and there wasn’t a single moment of it that the kid didn’t hate. It was all about the act of “toughening” the boy up, as though at ten years old, the threshold for masculinity was not being met. That there was some thickness of skin that hadn’t been achieved, and the act of crying at the injustice of it all was taken as the proof that the entire exercise was required. That picture was the day that a countdown was made, and while college was always a long shot, it was a freedom that couldn’t be passed by.

Teachers marveled at the new found studious nature, never before had a student made such a change in a single summer, not without some sort of accident of tragedy occurring, but they knew of no such event. A single summer on a farm should not have been such a thing, but in this case it was everything, it was the last straw in a pile of sticks, and it was too much to bear.

High school came and went, and in the end, the grades were enough. There were better schools, closer schools, if education had been the aim, but it wasn’t. The goal was the city, the goal was somewhere big enough to disappear, the goal was being far enough away that this place would be a memory buried deep enough that no one would ever know that it was a place of origin in the story being told.

There were a lot of cities to chose from, and the one the now teenager chose was so liberal that someone like Uncle Jeb would shudder to step foot in it, and it was perfect. It was a place where dreams came true, and no one was forced to toughen up, or be a man. That was where Samuel started to be known as Sam, and graduated as Samantha.

Her parents never called her, followed up, even though she kept the old beat-up flip phone for 12 years, paying a phone bill long after she replaced it, just in case. She didn’t call them either, but it was the principle of the thing. Four years in sociology had taught her a lot about people, and she knew that unless she reached out with a wife and a son, or fulfilled the promise to take over the family farm, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with her. That was just the way some people were, and there was nothing she could do that would change that.

She became a social worker, and eventually, she did get that wife, and even the son, but she wouldn’t be taking on the farm. Even if she did show up with her new family, they wouldn’t understand this, her, as she was, it just wasn’t their way. She had made a good life for herself, and when the flip phone broke, she had the line rerouted to her phone, just in case.

Her son was 11 when she got the call. Her family of three spent five hours on a plane, and three hours in a rented SUV to get to the house her parents had called home. It should have been a few years further out, but car crashes happen, especially with drunk drivers and missed red lights.

So here she sat, still in her back suit, looking at the picture of a child, who looked so much like her own, and yet was so much sadder. She walked out the door, her wife and son following, and they got in the car, not stopping till they hit the airport. No one broke the silence until the return tickets were paid for, and it was her wife who asked.

“What about the house?”

“Sell it” She whispered, voice hoarse.

“But the things, the memori-” Her wife tried again.

“Sell it all. There isn’t one thing in that house, that I want to remember” She half yelled, and then wanted to cry. Her wife didn’t look angry, just sad. Helena pulled out her phone, and called a friend, who would get a hold of someone local and take care of it.

Samantha was going home, for good this time.

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