NPR logo It's Not OK To Act This Way

It's Not OK To Act This Way

For Round 10 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, we asked you to send a story in the form of a voice mail message. Our winner was “Sorry for Your Loss.”

seedling. i

Hi Mom, it's me, I guess you're out. I'm trying to follow this recipe and I was hoping you would know what I could substitute for a half cup of butter. I figure probably oil or something but it would be nice to know from someone who has first hand experience. I tried the Internet but Google results can be really wide-ranging and I never know which advice to consider. I remember when I was fourteen and I Googled "How to French braid hair" and there were more than three million results.

I remember all the other girls on the soccer team had their moms tie their hair in a French braid so that it would look good in the team pictures after we won a game. I could only figure out how to regular braid my hair and no matter how tight I tied it, my hair always fell out. I'll have to send you a picture sometime from my freshman year in high school. It will be obvious which girl I am, huge round glasses, frizzy hair and thick eyebrows, forever in the back because I was always the tallest. I started getting taller than everyone else when I was in third grade. It was awful. I always wanted to call you so we could go "back to school" shopping but Dad said you didn't have a phone. We actually had two phones so I just figured we could always give you one if you came over.

Anyway, I was also calling to ask if you knew how best to arrange a flowerbed? I'm married now and thought it might be nice to have a flower garden in the front. I thought if you had time we could go to the nursery and pick out a few plants that work well together. Then afterwards we could run by that one place, the shop on the corner by the park, and eat lunch. I would probably just order a spinach salad and a coke. What would you order? They have great soups; do you like soup? Did you ever get to finish college? Dad said you dropped out because you got pregnant. I did too. I know I should hate you for leaving me but I don't. I did for a long time but now I understand. You were forced to choose between your dreams or me. You were so beautiful in the picture I have of you; Dad said you were twenty-one. What an age to be free. I don't blame you for running away and leaving me. I want to run away too. Even though you're not here and you never were I feel your genes in me. I hear the ocean call to me in my sleep, as it called you. I smell the scent of the wild the same way you did. I understand why I couldn't come with you; I have a daughter now too. I think I will leave soon, too. I can't stop thinking about the life I will be heading towards. I will stay up until dawn with strangers I call friends. I will see the world in sunlight and shadows. I will marry the earth and give birth to art. I will be recognized and appreciated. I will remember what I've learned from you. I will remember to never look back. When my daughter is older, I know she will understand. I know she will be okay. Just like I am.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.