Authority Figures by Sam Diaz


These types of movies bother her. You know, the soft teen ones that are really for adults. The ones with sad teenagers, pregnant teenagers, hurtful teenagers, designed to make parents with scales groaning in their chests shake their head and judge and sympathize and maybe be vicars of burning youth for 333 minutes (they always seem to run that long).


Watching the movie she sucks her thumb but doesn’t notice it until her brother comes in and teases her. It doesn’t matter, though, that he sees, because he knows she will kill him if he ever told anyone. Her brother says he’s leaving. He has a date. She rolls her eyes and considers switching thumbs, but the other is too salty.


He’s really going to the arcade, she bets. She imagines his pants sagging with the weight of a pocketful of coins and him shoving quarters into the machine and twitching a joystick around with a friend from school, trying to score the right shot because they both want to beat each other and be on top. She laughs to herself and feels better about it.


After he goes, Ben comes in and sits on the couch. She takes her thumb out her mouth (He wouldn’t tell anyone, but just to be sure). He is her mother’s fiancé. He burns CDs, she thinks, something with software. He is not her real father, so they don’t share anything—not the nose, hair, eyes, lips and even their ears are different (hers, small and curved; his, much longer, almost reaching the end of his sideburns).


Her legs are on the couch, tucked in front of her. They wait for the movie to be over. Her thumb is out of her mouth. It is slowly drying, pink and sore from the pressure.


Finally, the sad and hurtful teenager gets up and crawls to her room, crying, and the movie ends just as you begin to shake your head.

About the Author: Sam Diaz studies and writes at the University of Chicago.  His work has appeared in several publications, recently in the online journal: Fiction Fix. He has written and self-published a novel, but his mother bought the only copy and is unwilling to resell.  He may be contacted at: