Thursday, May 09, 2013

New Beginning 1003

The day my mother sat us down and told us Dad had gone to live with a new family, I thought it was one of those things adults say when they don't want to deal with the truth. Not 'Your dad's dead' but 'Your dad's gone to live in the country where he can have lots of room to run about.'

It was exactly like that when Sam died.

For days, we'd sit on the stairs after school, me and my little brother, him snuggled up to me with his thumb in his mouth, and one dog above us and one below, and Mum'd answer the door and tell everyone and anyone that she couldn't deal with the paper bill or a letter that needed to be signed for or a complaint about where the car was parked, because her husband had left her.

Funny how angry I'd get. Hadn't he left us, too? Me and my brother and even the dogs.

But whatever way you looked at it, Dad was gone, gone beyond recall, and whether you had a funeral or waved at aeroplanes flying overhead in case they were going to Australia, where there was lots of room to run about, didn't matter. Didn't matter because it didn't change anything.

* * *

Derek emerged naked from the tepee and ruffled Sam's neck before they launched off across the meadow to chase butterflies and roll in the grass. This was freedom like he'd never known: no bills, no letters to sign for, no worries about where to park the car. He wished he'd made this move years ago. Only one thing worried him, niggling at the back of his mind: What on Earth would Brenda have told the kids?

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: anon.



Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

I wished Mum had bought us one of those wireless radios on account of the stairs being hard as sin and the dreadful lags between callers at the door providing rather unreliable entertainment. Much like Dad, that old sod.

--Veronica Rundell

What changed things was that Yellow Cab. It pulled up in front of the house and Dad jumped out, leaping and yelling.

"I'm back!!!" he shouted, too excited to stand still. "Tell your mother the vet FIXED me!!".



I thought for the longest time Dad had gone to Australia, but when I got a postcard from Vegas inviting me to visit, I was ecstatic. It had been raining that day. When I looked outside, a double rainbow had cleared the rain.

Dad was a flexible cyborg, and seven feet tall. He was an American design, and liked hot dogs and Mexican Coke. We always knew he would join Cirque du Soleil, and run wild on the Strip with his half human friends.

Ralph, his cyborg dog, had stayed with us. There were a lot of hot dogs Dad had left in a freezer with "Ralph's Dogs" written on it in black marker.

I scribbled out "Ralph's Dogs" on the freezer and wrote "Vegas, Bitches". I was the only one he'd invited, and I didn't care.


It was exactly like when Goldie died.

The lies our parents tell us to make life's realities more palatable are just a placebo, delaying the pain. And when it hits, it hits that much harder. That's how it was when I finally discovered dad's leg sticking out of the toilet bowl.


Evil Editor said...

When you say: For days we'd sit on the stairs.... I assume you're talking about what you did after Sam died. I'd drop the Sam sentence.

It seems more normal for the kid to be angry at the dad for leaving than at mum for not including the kids and dogs among those the husband left when she's talking to a bill collector.

You can do without: Didn't matter because it didn't change anything. Doesn't matter whether it's there or not. Doesn't matter because it doesn't change anything. Ba dum ching.

IMHO said...

I like how the MC compares the news about his Dad to "Fluffy's gone to live on a farm." Dark humor, but it rings true.

Agree with EE about taking out the sentence re: Sam's death. It's confusing. Also, when followed by "one dog above and one dog below", at first I pictured one dog in heaven and one in the ground.

A. M. Perkins said...

I had the same reaction as EE with regards to the "For days we'd sit" paragraph - I thought you were talking about after Sam.

It's not until the very end of that paragraph that I saw, no, we're back to the dad again.

Unknown said...

I don't get the parts about Australia and having the room to run about. I thought Sam was a child, not a dog, given the sad tone here.

If it was my life and my dad had run out, I'd be pissed as hell at dad--not Mom, which is how this reads.

The third paragraph is dense. I had to read it many times to make sure I understood it, and yet, I still don't mostly because I can't figure out why two school kids would sit on stairs saying nothing, doing nothing, for days. Especially one who sucks a thumb--which I equate with perhaps 3-6 year olds. If dad leaving would paste my 4 y/o to the carpet for days on end I'm kicking hubby out tonight so I can have some freaking peace to write.

What I'm saying is: I don't buy the languor of these kids. Self isolation? Yes. Anger and acting out? Definitely. Sitting around like mice while Mom falls to emotional pieces, not so much. Kids are good at partitioning. They move on in their "new normal" pretty quick.

Where are we in the story? Is it all told in this flashback, or is the MC reflecting on this low point in relation to a new challenge now present?

The MC seems pretty savvy. I'd have him/her call out the lie in paragraph 1 and cut straight to paragraph 5. That middle stuff could go later, if at all.

none said...

Thanks, everyone :). Loving the continuations. Ah, butterflies.

Kelsey said...

I actually liked the bit about the MC being mad at Mom for something trivial--I read it as a coping mechanism. The MC's not ready to confront his anger at his dad for leaving and everything that means, so instead it's way easier to be mad at Mom, who's right there, for something that ultimately isn't all that important. Although, if this is what you were going for you could stand to make it more obvious.

I was also confused who Sam was.

Good luck!

Dave Fragments said...

I had to be away from my computer most of the day.

I agree with the others that Sam is confusing to the reader.

And I think you should focus on the abandonment issues. That's the biggest fear of most kids--being abandoned. "Not 'Your Dad's dead' but "Your Dad's gone to live in another country.'" THat's where I would stop because "another country" sounds ominous.

I'd change the way you use the thumb-sucking because it complicates the sentence and the thought. I know what you mean (his behavior reverted to an earlier age) but you need a few different words there.

I like the way the kid internalizes the Mother's troubles as if they were his/her own.

And I think that last paragraph loses an opportunity to dig deeper in to the kid's psyche. In the first paragraph you mention "another country" and in that paragraph you revisit it with "Australia"

Is that the father yelling at the mother "I need my space from you and the kids. You're suffocating me!" and the kids hearing his words. That's laying his problems off onto the Mother and the kids... Divorced kids do feel like it's their fault.

It's a good place to start.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Was Sam a playmate or a dog? I had to read this a few times to understand what was happening. I also imagined a floating dog above a porch, and a sleeping dog below a porch.

I understand that someone's dad has left, and everyone is sad/frustrated. I think you could get the point across with less words.

Perhaps the kids could lie on the sidewalk and draw in the dirt with sticks (to show us they're sad)? That's always depressing.