General Flash Fiction posted April 26, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
A teenage boy is confused

What's Wrong with our Boy?

by jpduck

“Charlie, we need to talk.”
Charlie put his pen down and turned away from his desk. “What’s on your mind, Sarah?”
“It’s our boy. He’s changed so much in the last few months. He’s moody and monosyllabic. In fact, we hardly ever see him. As soon as he comes home from work, he rushes up to his room and shuts himself away from us. There must be something wrong.”

"But surely, isn’t that just normal teenage behaviour?”
“I could believe that if he was fourteen or fifteen. But, come on, Charlie; he’s eighteen. He’s finished school and got a good job. He’s closer to being a grown man than a teenager. In fact, when he was fourteen and fifteen there was no trace of what he’s showing now.”
“Hm, I suppose you’re right. He was a lovely lad when he was fifteen.”
“He’s still a lovely lad. But I think he’s a very unhappy one.”
“OK, so what do you think we should do?”
“I think we should have a serious chat with him — both of us.”
“Could you come downstairs, please? Your dad and I would like to have a chat with you.”

“Because … we … hardly ever see you these days. We’d like to get to know you again.”
He got up and slouched across the room. They went downstairs together.
“What’s eating you?” Charlie asked. He was a great believer in the direct approach to life.
"You always look so miserable; your dad and I are worried about you.”
“I’m not miserable. OK? Problem solved. Can I go back to my room now?”
“No!” Sarah was almost shouting. “What’s so wrong with talking to your mum and dad?”
“Nothing, I suppose.” He looked at them as if they were a couple of clowns dancing on a flowerbed – a ‘whatever next?’ look. “But I’ve got better things to do upstairs.” He strode out and went back to his room.
“That went well, then, didn’t it?”
“Oh, shut up, Charlie! This is serious.”
“I’m sorry, Lovely. You’re right; it’s worrying.”
“When I went up to his room he slammed down the lid of his laptop as I opened the door. He obviously didn’t want me to see what he was doing.”
Charlie laughed. “I expect he was looking at a porn site. Nothing wrong with that. Perfectly normal for a lad his age, I would have said.”
“I do wish you would take this seriously.”
An hour later, their boy clomped down the stairs. He came into the sitting room carrying his large suitcase and his computer case slung over his shoulder.
“I’m going to stay with Ollie for a few days until I can find a bed-sit somewhere to rent.”
With that he walked to the front door and left.
“Do you think he might be having girl trouble?” Charlie asked.
“I’ve no idea. I don’t even know if he’s got a girlfriend. How would I? He never talks to us.”
“Perhaps she’s dumped him.” Charlie looked mournful. “Poor boy.”
“Aaaah! I’ve just thought. He might be on drugs. Oh, Charlie, we must help him.”
“But, how can we? We don’t even know where he is.”
“No, and I don’t think he’s going to let us have an address, you know. Oh what can we do?”
One morning, three weeks later, the letter box in the front door made its usual clatter as the post was delivered. Charlie picked it up and riffled through the envelopes.
“Junk … Junk … Junk … Hullo, what’s this?”
He walked through into the kitchen. “Sarah, love. We’ve got something from abroad.”
“It’s been delivered to the wrong address, I expect.”
Charlie looked again at the envelope. “No, it’s addressed to Sarah & Charlie Jahangiri." He slit the envelope with a knife from the kitchen table. He withdrew a single sheet of paper, folded once. He read the two sentences in the centre of the page, and collapsed on a chair, his face a pallid grey. "It's from our boy."
Sarah grabbed the paper and stared at it in disbelief.
I am in Syria, a proud fighter for ISIL, the defender of the only true Islam. I will be no further trouble to you.


Flash Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

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