30 Day Writing Challenge Day 6: Start your story with “He glanced at his watch impatiently…” Coming in just under the wire on this one yet again. Hope you like it!
In Love and Christ,
He glanced at his watch impatiently. He knew I would be late again; I’m always late. What he didn’t know was that I had been standin’ outside watching him for five minutes already. I wasn’t actually late at all, but who am I to shatter an expectation? So I stood outside and waited, watchin’ his eyes that are nothin’ like mine flittin’ to his watch every ten seconds. He gets that from his mother–the impatience thing.
By the time I finally walked in he was obviously pretty mad. I was ten minutes late, after all. His arms were crossed and his face was red. I almost smiled ’cause he looked so much like he used to look when he was little. But I didn’t. I reckon that would have just made him madder.
“You’re late,” he said.
“Really? I didn’t realize. Sorry ’bout that, Scout,” I lied.
“Thomas, Dad. My name is Thomas. You should know it; you picked it.”
I actually didn’t pick it. I never would have named him Thomas, but seein’ as Leah was the one who gave birth to him and all I didn’t have much choice. But I didn’t say that to him. I just shook my head and pulled out a cigarette.
“Dad! You can’t smoke in here. There are rules about this kind of thing, you know.”
“Oh,” I said, “Right.” I still hadn’t quite gotten used to it yet. We used to be able to smoke anywhere we wanted; now we’ve practically gotta find a back alley just to have a cigarette. That’s just one more difference between my world and the one Scout–Thomas–grew up in. No wonder we’ve never understood each other.
Thomas glanced at his watch again. “I’ve got a meeting in thirty minutes and I’ve got to leave in 15. What was it you wanted to see me about?”
“Well,” I said, leanin’ back in my chair, “I’ve got some hard news for you, son.”
He looked at me like nothin’ I could say would surprise him. “What is it?”
“Your mom and me have decided to get a divorce. Filed the papers this mornin’,” I told him real slow and gentle-like.
He rolled those eyes and sighed. Then he said, “I’ve known that for a while now, Dad. What did you expect? You were gone nine months out of the year and the other three you spent passed out in front of the TV. Of course she’d leave you.”
“I guess that’s the harder news, then,” I said without second-guessing myself, “She didn’t leave me, son. I left her,”
He just about stopped breathin’ then. “You did what?”
“I was never meant to stay in one place too long, Scout. You know that.”
He stared at me like I just shot a bullet right through him. With his teeth clenched together he said, “You know what? Just get out of here. I don’t want to see you anymore.”
I’ve never been one to argue so I just stood up and left. “Alright then. So long Scout.”
“My name is Thomas!” He yelled across the coffee shop. Everyone in there turned and looked at him except me. I just kept on walkin’.
For a while I stood outside and watched him through the window again. He only stayed another ten minutes. Just long enough to pull himself together before he went off to his fancy meetin’. I watched him as he combed his fingers through his hair and pulled out his cell phone to make a call–to Leah, I’m sure. He probably wanted to make sure she was alright. And she was. She’d never been happier than that mornin’ when I finally gave in and let her be free.
But I couldn’t tell him that. How do you explain to a grown man that everythin’ he ever thought he knew, he didn’t really know at all? That his mom, who’s always been perfect in his eyes, has been in love with someone besides her husband since the day they were married? How can you tell him why you won’t call him by his real name or why certain little habits just make you want to haul off and hit him? How do you explain countless nights spent on the road just because your heart broke all over again every time you looked at him? And how do you explain that even though you always knew he wasn’t yours, you always loved him anyway? How?
I didn’t know how. So I just did what he’s always known. I kept on walkin’.
Kharis Courtney ©2013