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Feb 06, 2021

Coming of Age Contemporary Sad

“Now.”

He would not disobey his father. Even if he was no longer a child, even if it clearly not his fault, he was willing to accept that he was going to have take responsibility.

“Yes, dad.”

*

The best thing about this time of the day was that the house was usually empty and quiet. His younger sister was with her friends at someone’s house (always late for dinner most days; she got permission for this when their mother saw how quickly the tears came); his mother was still at work (pick-up was around 4 pm; another hour to go and then she would fill the house with her cooking and favourite soap opera of the day). The house was free to him.

*

His father had done this before, but this time was different. It had nothing to do with teasing his sister, being out late, bad grades (not really a problem with his report cards), or not listening to someone older who pretended to be wiser. No this was different.

*

His hands were on the edge of the wooden kitchen table. He noticed how dirty his father’s fingernails were, even as he noted the thick gloves on the chair that he needed for work. He also noticed a stain on the table that was not covered by a placemat. It was something from a breakfast that he had not eaten. But he had washed all of the dishes and cleared that table when he got home. Why hadn’t he noticed…?

*

It was a simple issue with his parents. He was now nineteen and everyone was calling him a man. He had done well in school and his grades would guarantee that he would get into the university that he knew would make them proud (Sterling was a day’s trip away by car, and his mother promised to see him when he enrolled and lived on campus). They had let him borrow the other car for school and to see his friends on weekends. He had some part-time work that did not affect his grades (just tutoring others in math and science). He was an adult, they said. A very simple matter.

*

It was all about desire.

*

It was his father’s magazine. There was nothing special about the hiding place. It was not even that private (the hallway closet was where he found it, under some towels that he had put away for his mother; real smart move, dad). How silly did his father have to be to do that? Maybe it was an accident…

*

She was not that beautiful, not by any standard that a teenage boy with limited dating options could see. He had seen girls at the mall and the nearby running lanes who were much more attractive. But she was smiling. She was confident enough to have that photo taken outdoors on a sunny day in an open plain. And she was only a few years older than he (if the biography she supplied was correct). Where did girls like that come from, he thought. They were not in his neighbourhood, or school. Even the attractive ones did not seem to be that confident. What was it that she…?

*

“Are you even listening? Do you know what you’ve done now?”

*

What year was that one? 1981? 1982? 83? No, maybe earlier. He remembered how dog-eared some of the pages were and the dress of the girl on the front. He thought about it all now with his father yells and the hand coming down.

*

She liked gentlemen who hold the door open for strangers, strawberries, science-fiction movies and books (Asimov and Bradbury), and suntans. She disliked rude people, B.O., and junk food.

*

His father did not stop at the moment he expected it to end. All he had done this time was look at the pictures, nothing else. He had known that his father would be home soon and if he had heard the car in the driveway; if he had heard the front door open…

*

No, this was different. He was almost done being a teenager. He had saved enough money to move to an apartment with a friend (that would cover at least two months, right?) He kept being told that he was an adult now (hard to see it at times). No girlfriend that mattered; just friends and his education…

*

Education…this was an education. His father was an education. This was pain and you could learn from this.

*

He was a man now. He remembered old tears and his whimpering at these kinds of moments. And now…there was nothing there. No, he was no longer feeling it; no tears or whimpers or moans. No, he could no longer feel this. A real discovery.

*

If he remembered correctly, the next one would be the last one. The last blow. Then a speech and some time apart to think about what he did. He was already thinking about things as his father slammed the front door and started the car. There was something else that needed to be done.

*

Was this unusual?

*

He had not really heard the last words. His father’s face had been close and he had smelled the cologne dying on his beard. There was a warning and threat of more pain and his weekend was now gone (again, not really a problem)…

“Yes, dad.”

*

His father had left the room with the rolled up pages, straight down to the kitchen. He made another calculation.

*

He left the magazine in the kitchen. He did not bring it with him in the car. Now that made sense. He would not want to have it in the car and he would expect his son to return it where he found it.

*

“Clean up in here, too.”

“Yes, dad.”

*

He heard the car leave. Kevin needed pen and paper for his plan. As he went through his dad’s side of the bedroom, he thought about it. His mother had a routine when she came home and this would work.

*

This would work.

But, he would have to do this carefully.

*

His mother would be home and she would go right to the kitchen to get dinner ready. There were the pots and pans right under the counter. Yes, that was right. And his father, after checking up to see that his son had put things away, would be stuck in front of the TV waiting to eat.

*

This would work. 

It would be better with the letter.

*

“Mom,

Dad tried to hide this from me by putting it in the one place neither of us would look. I found it when he told me to clean up the house before you came home. I could not leave it in its hiding place without making sure that you knew about this, so I decided to leave it in the place where you would have to handle it. 

My apologies, but you needed to know. And I think that you both have a lot to talk about. 

I am done talking.”

*

In his room, Kevin locked the door and began to put things together in his suitcase. He knew that they would be home soon, but his noise-cancelling headphones would block out most of the noise, but he really wondered if he wanted to be around for this. He wanted to acknowledge this and take whatever came his way. Something was finished, and he was ready for it.

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1 comment

Daniel Hayes
07:20 Feb 19, 2021

Hi, I thought this was a good story. I enjoyed reading it.

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