Submitted by Mariyam Ghafar to Contest #17 in response to: Write a story about a family dinner that includes someone unexpected showing up.... view prompt

They say we live in the moment, that the past is always gone, and each day is something new, a stepping stone into a future we dream of even in the cold. For James, that is snow, that is those wintry days of bluster and ice. He sees the Earth of yesterday covered as white as any new page and the toddler inside of him rises as if armed with a rainbow of crayons, eager to set that right.

Yet today, James is happy to simply walk in it, create a few footprints of his own . He watches them tumble, those feathered crystals, their chaotic flight to form a blanket that could not be more uniform , more orderly. Yet for some their destination is to come to his hand, to a light upon his loved fingers and let James’ warmth be their spring melt.

James had awkwardly faced his family members (jaw-dropped) faces the mother he had been slapped and beaten up by. The sister he had been picked on by. And lastly, the once loyal, caring dad he had been thrown out on by. Or at least he tried to imagine his dad as a replica of his friends dads.

Clearing his throat, James tried to make conversation and make it obvious that he wasn’t here for money, he was here for his family. The family that he had betrayed on, sitting out on the alleyways, hiding away from his family. Smoking, drinking, vaping, injecting...those were the words that scarred him for life.

Yet was that his fault? No. Who had to sit there as a baby wearing the same week old nappy, sit there in the bathtub, nearly drowning, because of the fights and collisions. As a child , he was forgotten about constantly and wait at school, parks, after school clubs for them. Nurturing and caring was not a word to be used in his dictionary, as that was not in favour for him. Then at the age of 14, there was that blade that relieved the pain...

James had to blink a few times to recollect himself from the memories flashing brightly in his dead eyes. Motionless, he had to answer the questions knowingly.

“,” He spluttered out the word.

The word “son” was a word that struggled to come out of the old man’s mouth.

“Where’ve you been all this time? Huh. Not bothered to see us, your mother, him.” She whispered shakily.

Noticeably, Jane and Janice, James sisters were not at the family table. James stared into the thickness of air wafting about their empty chairs.

“Didn’t you hear, Jane and Janice got married, to the loves of their lives. You didn’t did you?” Mother questioned.

“Huh?” His mind was set on what he was going to eat, oh the treats.

“Emily loved you, but you left. What for?”

James shrugged, not trying to show he was uninterested.

Suddenly dad’s booming voice shook the table, “When you sit at this table, you respect your mother and me, or get out of the house!”

Dad took out his inhaler as he started working the darn old thing. “You left, we never left you...”

Anger bubbled inside of James, he seethed. Poking his hand frustratingly, he wished the walls would just suck him in. He couldn’t keep it in, no. The words could form into a beast like in those movies. Yeah, that’d be great. Maybe take away his parents for once.

“You say I left you, you weren’t even with me my whole life. I left because I was fed up of you. Mum and you fighting and acted like outsiders, not parents. My sisters found the loves of their lives, I’m surprised. They hurt me.” James shouted. “This whole chaos started with me, then I end it.”

James grabbed his coat as he stormed out of the house. Tears pricked the edge of his eyes and threatened him with opening up his secrets, even the darkest. Crunching through the snow, he sat on the edge of a nearby bench and let it all flow out. “Why did I act like such and idiot? I didn't need to say all those nasty things!” James felt a warm hand pat his back as it spoke softly. A hug was the next step.

Its amazing how the warmth of a close persons hand can brighten up the future and build a staircase to victory.

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11 likes 2 comments

21:10 Dec 04, 2019

"He sees the Earth of yesterday covered as white as any new page and the toddler inside of him rises as if armed with a rainbow of crayons, eager to set that right." I LOVE that line! This is so sad, but so well expressed. The fact you had his sisters gone was a good touch, because in those situations it really does start with the parents, the children are an effect. I was a bit confused at the end whether that was a random person on the bench or someone had been with him the whole time, but that made me go back and look for clues either... read more


21:44 Dec 04, 2019

Thx! I’ll keep that in mind next time and also, it was the same character sitting on the bench because he ran out due to being upset. Anyway that’s my fault, it’s too confusing. Thank you so much for the nice comments 😊


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