The Understanding

the understandingHe didn’t have to say anything to wake me. I had already taken to not sleeping. He paced the length of the bed. He’d left twenty dollars for emergencies in his top dresser drawer. He had to go. I had to understand.

I’ll be back on Sunday or Monday, or soon.

You’ll be back soon, I repeated. You have to go now.

I was twelve, his firstborn, the eldest of four. I shivered under the quilt. I could understand — but I was dumb, wide-eyed, knowing only that mothers and fathers leave even though they say they don’t want to go.


Caroline Bock is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novels Before My Eyes (St. Martin’s Press, 2014) and Lie (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). More at


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6 Responses to “The Understanding”

  1. Love it! Great job!

  2. Fantastic; home run!

  3. Mohini says:

    Lovely lovely piece Caroline!

  4. Liza says:

    Wow, you pulled me RIGHT in with that and had me thinking all sorts of things! Wonderful!

  5. Kristen says:

    The best way I know I’m reading a good 100 word story is when I lose track entirely of the limitation of words. That was absolutely the case here. There was no sense of stinginess or abbreviated thought. A very well-expressed piece!

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