46 comments

Submitted on 08/02/2020

Categories: Drama

Tough love, a parent’s perfect excuse to be an asshole. It sucks the life and soul right out of an innocent child to have a parent who doesn’t seem to love or care, but after years of repetition of meaningless conversations, it becomes nothing more than an irritating buzz.


The days were counting down; most of his belongings were in boxes. His books were packed up, and his closet was becoming ever more empty. The sun shined through the blinds, giving Aiden a rude wakeup call. He struggled to get up from his bed, knocking down his class schedule and awaking his cat, Muffin, in a not so nice fashion.


The day was planned, picked up by Lily to get Muffins medicine for the plane ride, meet up at the park to hang out with friends, and then go have dinner with Lily’s family. The longer he is out, the longer he is away from here. Anywhere was better than this depressing hellhole he called home, well his home for only a week longer.


After Aiden trotted down the stairs, he didn’t bother to look for his father. It was more than likely he was seated in his ripped recliner passed out after a night of drinking alone because it was ‘too gay’ to make friends at his age. There is a fine line between introverted and pathetic, and Aiden witnessed him cross that line years ago.


A couple of minutes into his bowl of cereal, Aiden watched his father stumble into the kitchen, still wearing his pizza-stained clothes from yesterday. He didn’t say good morning, but that was something Aiden had learned to expect, so he didn’t bother putting down his magazine. Greeting his own child was apparently too intimate.


“I’m making coffee,” he commented, pulling out his shitty instant coffee and creamer that was quite close to the date. “You want some?”


“I don’t like coffee,” Aiden told him for the second time this week, to which he didn’t respond. They fell back into their silence, or Aiden wanted them to fall back into silence.


“When do you and Lev leave?” The word ‘Lev’ stung like venom, Aiden’s grip on his spoon tightening as his once neutral expression turned to a frown. If anyone could press Aiden’s buttons, it was for sure his father.


“Lily and I are flying out next Monday,” It had been five years, and he still couldn’t bother to say his girlfriend’s name right.


“You got enough money to pay your own rent?” His father pried forward, asking questions he should have been asking months ago.


“Lily’s father owns an apartment building there, he is letting us stay rent-free while we are in school,” Aiden answered his father’s questions like a second thought while keeping his focus on the magazine. The apartment was coming with furniture, but Aiden was hoping to get Muffin a new cat tree and couldn’t decide which model she would like most.


“How long are you planning on staying there?” 


“I don’t know yet,” Aiden lied, peering over at his phone to see a text saying that Lily was coming in two hours, along with a heart emoji. Aiden sent one back, a brief smile finding its way again onto his lips.


“Are you planning on coming back for Christmas break?” 


“Yes, Lily’s parents already invited us to come to their Christmas family reunion and bought us the tickets.” Aiden felt so lucky to have a girlfriend with a loving and wealthy family.


“You’re not even planning on coming here?” His father started to raise his voice, Aiden put down his magazine to face him, the wrinkles in his expression playing into his terrible breath. “You would rather spend your time with that snobby white trash family?”


“That “white trash family” has shown me more acceptance and appreciation than you have in the last eighteen years.” He slammed his hands down on the table, causing Aiden to rise from his seat to stand his ground. This was not the road he wanted to go down this morning, but he was more than ready to go guns blazing.


“I am your father; I will not stand for this disrespect!” He shouted, trying to look tall and menacing, but his disgusting appearance made him look less like a threat and more like a sad joke.


“For your information, respect is earned, and you haven’t done a single thing to earn my respect.”


 Aiden retaliated in a stern but calm voice. At the same time, he was furious, but he refused to stoop down to the same level as his father by using his voice to incite fear. That’s why his mother left, but no way in hell would that be a reason for Lily to leave. She always said he was nothing like his father, and Aiden intended to keep it that way.


“Don’t you throw that bullshit at me! I have put food on the table for you, bought you clothes to wear and pay for the roof over your head. I do all this for you, and you dare say I haven’t earned respect!” Aiden could feel drops of spit hitting his face, the smell of beer and coffee mixing together.


“You really want me to praise you for doing the absolute bare minimum when it comes to raising a child? It is literally your job as a parent to feed, clothe, and house me.” Aiden grabbed his half-eaten bowl of cereal and went to wash it, wanting to hurry up his painful interaction with his father.


“You're such an immature, selfish brat!” For a split second, Aiden wanted nothing more than to shatter his bowl but instead opted to take a deep breath before drying his bowl.


“Maybe I am selfish for wanting to be loved and cared for, but I am the child here. I should be able to make mistakes and build my own life without being belittled by my own father.” Aiden put away his plate and grabbed his phone and bag before heading out of the door.


His father’s loud voice follows him, but it turned to nothing more than an irritating buzz. It was still too early for Lily to come to get him, but maybe he could bike there and surprise her. He could stop by the park and pick her a bouquet of flowers, Aiden knew Lily loved getting flowers.


Aiden decided for that to be his plan. He grabbed his bike from the side of the house and left. Despite what he left behind, he had better things to look forward to.

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46 comments

Amany Eland
18:31 Aug 06, 2020

This was so well written Lynn! I love the sweet thoughts Aiden had about Lily, and how he made an effort to stay calm. Overall, a really great job. I recently wrote a story for this prompt and would be grateful if you could leave your views on it. Thank you and keep writing!

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Lynn Penny
20:46 Aug 06, 2020

Thank you! I would love to read your work

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Amany Eland
20:50 Aug 06, 2020

😊

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D. Jaymz
00:14 Aug 03, 2020

A forceful story. I enjoyed it. The characters were 'rounded' and the dialogue distinctive. Well done. I believe for the sentence, 'That’s was his mother left, but no way in hell would that be the reason Lily left.' you meant, 'That’s why his mother left, but no way in hell would that be the reason Lily left.' or something similar.

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Lynn Penny
02:51 Aug 03, 2020

Glad you liked it! Totally missed that during my editing, thank you for letting me know!

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D. Jaymz
04:09 Aug 03, 2020

Glad I could help. It is an excellent story.

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Lily Kingston
00:47 Sep 25, 2020

First off, this hook: “ Tough love, a parent’s perfect excuse to be an asshole. ” —> fantastic, too true, and well put. Honestly I love it and it drew me in from the start! Second off, you do such a a good job conveying Aiden’s (rightfully earned) anger at his father. I’m so happy he’s getting a second chance at having a nice family with his girlfriend’s family! Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Lynn Penny
15:25 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you! This one was one of my favourite to write so I’m glad it was enjoyed.

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Metaxia Tzimouli
10:03 Aug 20, 2020

I am not going to lie. Reading this made me annoyed and sad at what some parents can do to their children. Good read though.

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Lynn Penny
13:42 Aug 20, 2020

It sucks but it’s a reality that some people don’t understand and we all should be more aware of it. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

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P. Jean
21:55 Aug 18, 2020

I thought the story would be about tough love as your opening sentence inferred but it turned out to be about no love. No detail about how that happened in the eighteen years. Sad story. Well written. Interesting that the son could not or would not be baited into an argument.

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Lynn Penny
00:23 Aug 19, 2020

Thank you for the wonderful review. I was hoping to showcase how most parents attempt to use tough love just turn into a loveless relationship.

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P. Jean
00:30 Aug 19, 2020

You are welcome, I enjoyed it!

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Iam Danger
16:06 Aug 14, 2020

I felt like I lived that moment, thanks for writing

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Lynn Penny
17:40 Aug 14, 2020

I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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Brittany Gillen
17:04 Aug 13, 2020

Lynn - Thank you for sharing your story. The characters were very believable and Aiden was endearing. I agree with many others who said that the thing which makes Aiden most sympathetic is his self-control. This was an excellent response to the prompt. Great job!

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Lynn Penny
17:17 Aug 13, 2020

Thank you! I’m glad my character became sympathetic, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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Sjan Evardsson
13:14 Aug 13, 2020

Well written! The father calling Lily's family "trash" made me think "pot, meet kettle." I heard the same sort of rants from my step-father, disparaging others to make himself feel more important. Keep writing and stay safe!

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Lynn Penny
13:43 Aug 13, 2020

Thanks you! I’ve heard various insults similar from my family as well. You keep safe a well!

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Bill Willoughby
00:17 Aug 13, 2020

Excellent story. I immediately bonded with the main character. But in my case it was my mother who abused me, my father just ignored me. The only suggestion I would make would be in the sentence, "His father’s loud voice follows him..." It probably would read better with followed instead of follows. The rest of the story seems basically to be written in the past tense although the action was occuring in the oresent.

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Lynn Penny
01:16 Aug 13, 2020

I feel sorry for you, relating with the abusive mother. I hope things get better for you. Thanks for the notice! I’m terrible with my past and present tense.

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18:28 Aug 09, 2020

I really liked your story Lynn. If felt so real, the way the dialogue and descriptions were presented. Very well-written. I like how the character stood up for himself. I also like the added character of Lily to represent a new life going forward. I became so into the story I wanted to read more! I will read another story from you. I like family conflict stories, and wrote one around that theme for my story 'Waiting for Words Unsaid.' I would love for you to read it (only if you wouldn't mind and have time :-)😁) for your feedback! Thank...

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Lynn Penny
19:09 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm very glad that you like it. I would love to read your work :)

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Doubra Akika
21:40 Aug 08, 2020

This is so beautifully written, Lynn! I loved the beginning so much. The dialogues were amazing and the whole theme on alcoholism felt so real! It's sad that some children have to live with this growing up but, it's great that some can find a way to escape from it. Loved every bit of this. If it's not too much stress, I would really like if you could check out my recent story and leave feedback. Have a lovely day!

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Lynn Penny
22:53 Aug 08, 2020

Thanks so much! I'd love to give some feedback.

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Sue Marsh
15:48 Aug 06, 2020

I enjoyed the story, it has a forceful approach to living with alcoholism. Well done. Sue

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Deborah Angevin
11:21 Aug 06, 2020

Great story as always, Lynn! The dialogues were great, too! Would you mind reading my recent story out, "(Pink)y Promise"? Thank you :D

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Lynn Penny
15:23 Aug 06, 2020

Thanks, I'd love to read your work!

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Emily K
21:24 Aug 05, 2020

I really liked the direction you chose to take with this prompt, and I enjoyed the plot. There are a few grammatical errors in terms of punctuation and correct tenses but it doesn't take away too much from the story. Good job!

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Lynn Penny
21:30 Aug 05, 2020

Thank you so much! Editing has never been my strong suite, but I'm glad to know I'm getting better.

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Kristin Neubauer
15:28 Aug 05, 2020

I loved the opening paragraph - and the whole story lived up to the high expectations you set with the opening. The entire scene between Aiden and his dad was very vibrant and forceful, as someone else said in their comments. I don't know if you've considered this as part of a larger story/novel, but it sounds like there may be a lot of pain for some reason on the part of Aiden's father - making him the miserable man he is. Could be an interesting element for something longer one day if it moves you.

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Lynn Penny
18:04 Aug 05, 2020

Ooooh, I love that idea. Totally going to throw this on the back burner for a future book. Thanks so much for the comment! :)

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Charles Stucker
00:11 Aug 04, 2020

Typo, " he had better things to look forward too." The last word is to, not too. Again with the strong opening. I'm still trying to decide what could strengthen the ending. Perhaps just a slight rewording- in the last paragraph move "Aiden decided for that to be his plan. He grabbed his bike from the side of the house and left." back to the previous paragraph where they belong. Then reword that last sentence to avoid passive, "Despite what he left behind, he looked forward to better things." I'm still not sure what he IS leaving behind. ...

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Lynn Penny
02:03 Aug 04, 2020

Hello again! Thanks again for the analysis, I’m gonna go through my saved version and mess around with the dialogue. I chose the title “who is the child” as a commentary on how parents can act like children, a more personal experience on my end. He is leaving behind a toxic relationship, it took forever for me to leave that relationship, but like Aiden it really only took walking out the door.

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Charles Stucker
03:11 Aug 04, 2020

My experience growing up was completely different. I had a circle of friends who joked that I balanced things because EVERY one of them had one bad parent and one good except poor X who had two horrible parents. My parents were good people and good parents. So, while I was incredibly lucky, I have no emotional understanding of being a child with an abusive parent. Different expectations. It's good that you got past it.

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Lynn Penny
04:45 Aug 04, 2020

Thank you, it’s nice you had such a lovely family. I’m glad I was able to move past :)

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Thom Brodkin
22:20 Aug 03, 2020

I kept expecting a twist at the end before I finally realized that the twist was there wasn’t a twist. Great read.

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Lynn Penny
01:32 Aug 04, 2020

Thank you, I’m glad I was able to nail my no twist ending. I really wanted to focus on the reality of having a childish parent.

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Thom Brodkin
01:36 Aug 04, 2020

I bought into it. I felt as I read it and that’s what writing is all about.

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Ellen Boyd
13:03 Aug 03, 2020

Great story! You really fleshed out the father well, which is difficult to do in such a short piece. I empathize with Aiden. Really good job!

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Lynn Penny
15:30 Aug 03, 2020

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed!

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Rhondalise Mitza
03:34 Aug 03, 2020

Great story, Lynn! I was caught right away by the first line.

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Lynn Penny
15:31 Aug 03, 2020

Thanks!

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01:51 Aug 03, 2020

Great job! I would be interested in seeing you do an empathetic take on the father in a future story. It is hard to round characters out that much in 1-3 thousand words, but I thing writing him from a different perspective that does not negate Aiden's experience or perspective would be interesting and good practice. Lemme know if you ever do.

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Lynn Penny
02:53 Aug 03, 2020

That is a great idea! I’ll see if it fits any future prompts :)

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