The Man at My Father's Desk

Submitted into Contest #44 in response to: Write a story that starts with someone returning from a trip.... view prompt



The man sat at my father's desk, feet kicked up and a cigarette dangling dangling from his mouth. He wore a cowboy hat that flopped over half of his face, revealing only a long, crooked nose and what was left of a freshly shaved beard. The feet that were carelessly plopped onto the desk wore big, bulky cowboy boots, the kind that clinked when you walked.

I dropped my suitcase onto the floor none too lightly, and the man sat up suddenly, blinking rapidly. His cowboy hat fell to the floor, and his cigarette landed on his lap, which he quickly scooped up and threw into the trash. His feet fell to the floor with a thunk, and his boots let out a small clink. There he sat for a moment, looking bewildered and trying to figure out what had made such a loud noise. I almost laughed. Almost.

There was a complete stranger sitting in my beloved father's chair, looking like he owned the place. But he didn't.

"Who are you?" I demanded, jutting my hip out to the side and tapping my foot on the floor; I had to let this guy know who was the boss.

"Oh!" The man looked around, saw me, and relaxed. "You must be Camryn. Yer mom told me all about ya," he replied, slowly settling back into the chair. He quickly flashed a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it, breathing out a small puff of smoke right at me. I waved it away, coughing slightly.

"Want a cig?" he asked, holding one out to me. He had a heavy southern accent, which was uncommon here in Delaware. His voice was a little bit raspy, probably from smoking all of the time.

"No, thank you." On the outside, I was calm, cool, and collected. On the inside, I was ranting. I'm 15 years old! I'm smart enough to know not to take cigarettes, and I plan to keep my body as healthy as possible.

He shrugged. "Suit yourself."

"Who did you say you were?" I retaliated, circling back to my first and most important question.

"I didn't. The name's Mark." He lazily held out a hand, and I reluctantly took it. It was rough, like a carpenter's hand after a long day's work.

"Where were ya, anyway? Yer mom never said." A cigarette was barely staying inside his mouth, and for a second, I thought it would fall right to the floor. But Mark made the slightest move of his mouth, and it was right back in.

"I was visiting my father in Florida. You know, because of the divorce? I stay there for the summer...wait, how do you know my mom?"

Mark chuckled. "Yeah, I know about the divorce. I wouldn't be datin' yer mom if I didn't know."

I nearly fainted of shock. "Datin' yer mom?" A whole plane ride with my mom and not a single word about dating anybody. I had to find her, and quickly.

"Well, Mark, it was nice meeting you. I'm sure I'll see you around again." I flashed a small wave, but it didn't matter; Mark had already regained his position in the chair and retrieved his cowboy hat from the floor, which now covered his entire face.

"See ya," he rumbled, barely audible through the hat. I gathered my suitcase and ran up the stairs, two at a time. Light pooled into my room, and I felt a surge of happiness, even if I felt confused, angry, and surprised.

I had been in my room for no longer than 2 minutes when I heard a soft knock on my door.

"Come in," I said quietly. The door slowly creaked open, and when it got wide enough, I could see my mom leaning on the frame of the doorway, a small smile upon her face.

"Hey," she started.


"Did you meet Mark?" she asked tentatively, guilt creeping onto her flawless face.

"You could say that. He offered me a cig," I responded, not looking up from my drawing I had been working before I left.

"Oh, my. I told him to stop smoking, but I guess I'll have to talk to him again." She rolled her eyes and a smile tugged at her lips. "Men, am I right?"

I knew she was trying to cheer me up, but I didn't want to give in that easy, so I just shrugged.

"I suppose."

She slowly slipped into the room and slid onto the bed, reaching out for my hand.

"Honey...I need to tell you something. You probably won't like it."

"It's okay. Shoot."

"It's just that...I've been dating Mark for 3 years now."

My head moved faster than any part of me ever had in my life. It snapped up so quick that I didn't even know I did it. The statement took a moment to sink in, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Her slipping away after I was in bed. Coming downstairs for breakfast to see her passed out, drunk, on the chair. I had always thought she was kind of depressed after the divorce, but it was actually the complete opposite of that. I should have known something was going on. I should have been smarter. That's when my emotions took over.

"3 years?!" I yelled, dramatically throwing my arms in the air. "3 years, and not a single word?!"

"I-I'm sorry. I didn't know if you were ready because of the divorce."

"What the hell, Mom!"

"Cam, you have to understand. We really do love each other," she pleaded.

"Yeah, well, that's what you said about Dad, and look how that turned out!"

My mother was silent, and tears began to slide down her cheeks. She shook her head. "I had hoped you would be happy for me. I guess it was too much to ask for."

"But what about the whole 'until death do you part'? Huh? Cause Dad definitely isn't dead, and you clearly aren't!" I was out of control. I knew I needed to be alone and shield myself from everyone else, but I kept on going.

"And now I suppose you and Mark are getting married now, too!" It had been sarcastic, but by the look on my mother's face, I knew I had hit the bullseye. My jaw dropped, and my mother nodded.

"In October."

"How long? How long have you been engaged?" I whispered.

"A couple months now. He proposed in June."

I leaned against the wall by my bed, and this time it was my turn to let tears silently glide down my cheeks. My life was fine (except for my parents' divorce, of course), and now some random guy that I had never met before today was going to be my stepfather? Nothing was worse than this.

", Cam?"

"What?" It was more of a retort than a reply, but she deserved it.

"You're going to be a big sister, too."

June 01, 2020 19:18

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K.C. Dunford
03:40 Jun 11, 2020

Very cool story! I like your style so wanted to let you know about a free writing contest that I am hosting now until the end of June. The winning story will be published by High Dive Publishing and both first and second place will receive some amazing prizes. Visit if you’re interested! I hope you will submit! I’d love to see more of your work.


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18:18 Jun 08, 2020

Yikes, that mom and the new step-dad are something else. Engaging story. Great writing. I'd be grateful if you'd read my story, The Pariah of Battlefield Elementary and give your opinion.


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Zea Bowman
19:21 Jun 01, 2020

Before the deadline closes, does anyone have any suggestions on what to do after that? I feel like this story was a little bit short and didn't make a lot of sense. I will give credit to your idea if I take it and add more to the story :)


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