CW: Offensive language, reference to abuse.
I’m coming, alright. Jesus Christ, kid, quit standing by the car like that. Anyone’d think you can’t get away soon enough. The door's unlocked.
You don’t need to give me that look, boy. I’ll smoke in my own damn car if I want to. Wait until you’re away in that place, you’ll be boozing it up and smoking pot every weekend with all the other kids, guarantee it.
Here, put the address in my phone, would you? Make sure we don’t end up all the way in Invercargill. I never even been that far. Who’d want to, huh? Probably nothing but Penguins down there.
You remember that thing you liked when you first started school, the world on a ball, you know, what’s that thing?
Yeah, the Globe. Don’t say it like that. Just ‘cause you got some fucking scholarship you think you’re hot shit now, don’t you?
I remember as soon as you saw that thing you wanted to know what held us on, you said there must be something we couldn’t see keeping us from falling. Remember that? I knew then you were going to be something special. Not saying you wasn’t already, but man, I knew you were going to be smart as hell, be more than I ever was.
You couldn’t believe how big everything else was, how small we were down here compared to the rest of it. You kept pointing at other places and asking me what it was like there, as if I was going to know. But you thought I knew everything back then. Before you hit fifteen and realized you’d already gotten further in school than I did.
I got you all those documentaries and you’d watch them for hours and tell me all sorts of shit about the rainforest, or some volcano somewhere. You always did want to go someplace different, see what else was out there. Guess I never felt that way, felt like enough trying to keep what I had here together.
You’re more like your mother; she wanted to get away. No good came of that, did it? Not saying you’re like her in that way, son. She’s always been a goddamn disaster, I know you don’t like me saying it but you hardly know her, visiting her a couple times a year don’t let you know what she’s like. You’re eighteen, plenty old enough to understand that.
It wasn’t having you that made her that way though. Sometimes it can, I don’t know why, but having a kid can make some women lose their damn minds.
Post-natal depression, that’s right. Knew you would know it. You going to talk to me now, huh?
But she didn’t have that, she was just always wild. It’s why I liked her at first. Didn’t try and make me settle down like all the others did. We were a bad mix, I tell you.
We’d start drinking on the Friday after work and not quit until Sunday morning. Then those weekends started getting longer, you know. And we’d have to go to work on the Monday, so we’d hit a line of something to get us going, guess you’re old enough to hear about that too.
We found out she was pregnant on a Wednesday, I still remember because we were wondering why her hangover was lasting so long. Soon as she said she might be pregnant it was all I could think about.
We lived in this shitty little flat then, the one I showed you above the fish and chip shop, and I was walking up and down the lounge room chain smoking, imagining having a son. I always wanted you to be a boy.
She got fed up of me walking around, she was trying to watch TV, feeling sick as a dog. She said if I was going to keep marching around like that I might as well go all the way to the supermarket and get a pregnancy test for her, so that’s what I did.
I got down to the supermarket right as they were closing up, I asked them to wait a minute and ran in there, I was running up and down the aisles trying to find a pregnancy test. I don’t even know what I wanted, if I was hoping it was going to be true or not.
She did the thing, pissed on it or whatever, and then we both crammed in the bathroom smoking a cigarette and counting and watching for the line. It came up right away, dark, so we didn’t even have to wonder if it was right or not.
It was like some sign, that’s what I thought. I was twenty-four and I’d done nothing in my life, never had nothing. It was my sign something better was coming.
She straightened up, we both did. We wanted to do it right, only thing we didn’t quit was the smokes and coffee, had to have at least one vice. Needed something to get us up in the morning.
For a while I thought we were really going to make it, have all that shit I always dreamed about when I was just a kid growing up. I wasn’t going to let you be dragged up in foster care, that was the first thing I promised you.
If you’d grown up going to bed hungry at night, waking up hardly remembering which place you’re in now, going to school with no lunch and trying to think of a story for your bruises, bet you wouldn’t have been some golden boy then, huh? Not even you, you’d be busy fighting every day just to survive, just to get yourself out the gutter and try and give your own kid something better.
Your mother said she wanted it too, a better life, but she got bored of it once we had it. Sick of being home while I was working all day and going to the pub after, not like I turned into some saint either.
Just saying we knew what we wanted but we didn’t know how to get there. Shit, you really just going to sit there pissed off at me and not talking the whole way?
Got about five hours to go still so hope you don’t need to ask me to stop for the toilet, huh? Or to buy you lunch. Then you might decide I’m worth talking to.
Scholarship isn’t buying you lunch now, is it? Those rich bastards don’t understand what it’s like for people like us, they don’t think maybe you won’t even have the money to buy lunch.
I’m gonna buy you lunch though, kid. Not saying I won’t. All I’m saying is don’t forget where you come from.
Hey, find me the lighter, would you? Don’t make that face, just wind your window down. A bit of smoke's not going to kill you.
I’m not gonna buy a fucking vape. If you’re gonna talk don’t say something just to lecture me. You always did think you were better than me, didn’t you?
But you’re right, and don’t think I don’t know it too. Guess you wish you had some flash guy in a suit with clean hands to be your old man. Some mother that stuck around and stayed out of a bottle.
I even told Bobby that last night, told him you probably didn’t even want me turning up there embarrassing you in front of all your friends. I only stopped to buy some beers to take with me, that’s all, I was right on time, believe me.
But Bobby said he’d buy me a drink and I figured I needed something to take the edge off. It's the only reason I went in to the pub with him. Told him I was off to your leaving party, and then he said we should have a shot to celebrate and I told him I’d have one and then I had to be going.
That’s all it would have been except I ran into that asshole, Major, while I was there. I used to call him Major Dick when we were at school, I’ve probably told you that already. He used to try and give me money for lunch sometimes, always liked to show off that he was rich, well his old man was rich.
Can’t believe he ended up being your math teacher, life’s a damn trip. Anyway, he asked after you, asked how you were doing.
So, I told him I was dropping you off at university the next day and he started saying how smart you are, how well you’ve done. Acting like it was some big surprise my kid could turn out good.
Then he told me once you get out of here and get a taste of something else, you’d never want to come back.
I shouldn’t have hit him, but I just lost it, it’s like he was saying exactly what was going through my mind, that once you get away, you’re not ever coming back.
It’s just bad luck Dustin was coming in, seeing about a stolen car or something, I don't know, but he saw it happen. Grabbed hold of me and sat me down against the wall there, said he'd cuff me if I tried to leave. That’s another asshole I’ve known all my life, arrested me when I was only sixteen.
Anyway Major ended up telling him to let me go, said he didn't want to press charges because he knew I was just upset you were leaving. Should have hit him again. He was enjoying it, you know. It’s why he became a teacher if you ask me, likes having power over people.
He’s alright? What’s that mean? Just ‘cause he told you about that scholarship, sent off a few forms for you? That’s his job, to do that. He knew he was taking my own son away from me, doing that. You think about that?
But it’s alright son, I want you to do this. I'm proud of you, I really am. And I’m sorry I was late to your damn party, if it’s such a big deal to you. I’m just gonna miss you, that’s all.
No, you won’t, kid. You won’t come back.