Tuesday, May 03, 2011

New Beginning 853

The kitchen is thick with the smell of onions frying. My father pours a glass of wine, swirls it, sniffs it and swishes it around his mouth like he’s rinsing.

Finally, he gulps it and scribbles something in his note book. He pours more into his glass, fills it right up to the top this time. He tips his head back and the red liquid goes down as fast as he’d poured it from the bottle.

Wish I could drink like that. Another glass gets filled. He takes it with him to the stove, and tosses some strips of meat into the pan. His face starts to flush.

The front door opens, and I slide off the stool and run to my Mum. She dumps her brief-cases, one for each hand, and scoops me up for a kiss. She carries me to the kitchen, groaning about what a big girl I am.

Dad is refilling his glass, and lets Mum kiss his cheek. He passes her a small glass.

“I’ll get her ready for bed, but then I’ve got about four hours of work to do,” Mum sighs and takes a sip.

“Yes, Ms Senior Manager, Ma’am!”

Dad salutes like he’s a soldier.

“Don’t start, Nick,” Mum’s face scrunches.

But Dad says something about her jetting off to Singapore next week, and I know that he has started.

I sigh and adjust my diaper. I might only be two, but I know the beginnings of an argument when I see one.

Pouting, I reach for the bottle of wine. Mum and Dad are too busy glaring at each other to notice the long swig I take. They wouldn't care anyway. I'm a big girl now.


I belch and wipe the back of my pudgy little hand across my mouth. I might not be able to drink like Dad . . . yet . . . but I definitely have Mum beaten. She hasn't even taken a second sip yet!


Uh oh. "Hey, you two! I need to be changed."



Opening: JAS.....Continuation: Bran Flakes

12 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.

--anon.


He started a long time ago. Getting early retirement (fired) was when he started. He starts every day with his swishing rinsing stinking wine.

I don't want to be left alone with him when Mom goes to Singapore. We lost our cat on her last trip. Dad tossed Muffy into the frying pan after he stuffed HER thick with onions and man alive. I didn't know a cat could scream so loud or move so fast. I still can smell her at times. Must be the shallots. They linger. The cat hauled ass. I don't have that choice.

--anon.

Anonymous said...

“Yes, Ms Senior Manager, Ma’am!”

Dad salutes like he’s a soldier.


This rang false to me. I'd get this from 2nd and 3rd graders when I was a teacher (minus the Ms Senior Manager). A married couple would have a way of talking to each other, a language in which the complaints would be spoken. It wouldn't be the same language elementary kids mouth off in.

--AlaskaRavenclaw (blogger's messin' with me)

Evil Editor said...

Italicize "has" in the last sentence. (Possibly you did, and email changed it back).

It's all the child's reporting except for the sentence Wish I could drink like that. Depending on whether the kid is just an observer or is going to be making snarky comments throughout, I would either get rid of that sentence or toss in another example or two. For instance, at the end of paragraph 1 the kid could think, What a pretentious asshole. Or after the dad has drunk three glasses she could say Looks like it's gonna be another long night.

BuffySquirrel said...

I think you need to get rid of the comma in the 'don't start, Nick' sentence, as otherwise 'Mum's face scrunches' reads like a saidbookism.

I don't think we need telling Dad is pretentious as EE suggests. Nobody but a poser would pretend he could test the wine's bouquet or flavour in a kitchen stunk out by onions frying....

EE said...

We don't need telling that the father's pretentious; we need showing that the kid is smarter than the parents and will be making snarky remarks about them. If that's the case. If that's not the case, I suggest getting rid of I wish I could put away my alcohol like daddy does.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm not a big fan of that present tense. It distracts me and makes reading a story harder. But then, that's my problem and not the author's problem.

"Wish I could drink like that."
Gives me mucho heartburn (like a greasy taco). It's not a child's statement to my ears.

batgirl said...

Does 'wish I could drink like that' mean drink in a gulp rather than ladylike sips? Or wishing to drink alcohol?
I wasn't sure, so the observation was more distracting to me than it was indicative of character.

It may just be me, but I couldn't get a good handle on the narrator's age. Young enough to be picked up and carried, but the voice seems more 11-13ish. Of course, the kid could just be very bright and have a good vocabulary.

EE said...

I picture the kid as a female Stewie Griffin.

arhooley said...

"Swishes it around his mouth like he’s rinsing" is an awfully bland metaphor. To swish something around in your mouth is to rinse. Otherwise, I thought the descriptions were effective.

vkw said...

I've tried to think why this is not catching my interest. I think because it is in first person but removed.

We are reading all about what the narrator is seeing but nothing else. It's like the narrator is a camera.

The only thought we have is the MC wishing he could drink wine like his father and that thought sounds out of place.

Xenith said...

Present isn't working here. It feels like the narrator is recounting something that happened in other time and place, which is distancing. Like watching something through two windows.

Finally, he gulps it and scribbles something in his note book. He pours more into his glass, fills it right up to the top this time.

"right up to the top" doesn't fit. It's a bit more informal than the surrounding sentences. "right to the top" maybe.

He tips his head back and the red liquid goes down as fast as he’d poured it from the bottle.

And how fast was that?

Wish I could drink like that.

This sentence also doesn't match the tone of the surrounding sentences. If it's supposed to be a direct thought, this needs to be more obvious. If it's an attempt to avoid starting the sentence with "I", please don't.

His face starts to flush.

Is there's a point where a face obviously starts to flush? "is flushed" maybe?

The front door opens, and I slide off the stool and run to my Mum. She dumps her brief-cases, one for each hand, and scoops me up for a kiss. She carries me to the kitchen, groaning about what a big girl I am.

A problem with first person. The only pronouns up to this point as masculine so I assume male POV until told otherwise. (Bad reader, yes, but it happens.)

Dad is refilling his glass, and lets Mum kiss his cheek. He passes her a small glass.

“Yes, Ms Senior Manager, Ma’am!”

Dad salutes like he’s a soldier.

I'd put the action on the same line as the dialogue.

“Don’t start, Nick,” Mum’s face scrunches.

Scrunches?

No real sense of time and place (So far I'm assuming late 20th century, US surburban.) which enhances the dreamlike/reounting past events feel. More concrete details maybe? Emotional reactions?

batgirl said...

I'm with Xenith - more emotional reaction would be helpful. Is the narrator flinching before the oncoming quarrel, or looking forward to the entertainment? On dad's side or mom's? Wanting to be the good kid who'll make everyone happy, or the bad kid who distracts the adults from their anger at each other?