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The Prodigal Son.

by laurafraser 

Posted: 19 April 2005
Word Count: 1025
Summary: Don't really like the first part. This has just trickled out of me though but gong to have serious tinkle later to bring out the darker side of it a little and loose the chatty aspect of it....?

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When I broke my fathers hand the other day, I remember how the sound struck me. Crack! Or was it a Snap! ? Whatever it was it definitely had an exclamation mark after it, like in the Batman comic books. (Or was it the television program that I used to watch?) Why did I break it? I broke it because I wanted to, I wanted to see what a broken hand looked and sounded like and anyway my father had often said that my happiness was the most important thing to him, so I don't see why this sentiment shouldn't encompass all things. And after all, I am the prodigal son, the one they thought that they would never see again. And then one day, a Monday, (Iíd thought it best that I surprise them at the beginning of the week, so as to give them a little joie de vivre for the next six days), I returned. Seeing that I am an only child, a rare black pearl in the McRoe household, one could be forgiven for imagining that my return would be met with more exclamation marks, tears and a torrent of joyous loving words. Youíd be wrong. Forgiven, but wrong. Mother simply turned her head slowly and actually just looked at me a second, or perhaps two, before she managed to get out of bed, shed a couple of tears, fall on the floor and then get up and trip over again. This of course awoke my father, who at first appeared irate, (though I should of remembered that he was not and had never been a morning person). Nevertheless, I remember a distinct feeling of being increasingly pissed off. I had always had rather grandiose images of my return. After all I had been away at least a day and a half and they really had had no idea at all of where the hell I had been, and what did I get? Some sodding mother who couldn't stand upright and an incoherent father mumbling nonsense in bed! In bed! That really got to me. Here I was the prodigal son, returned after a thirty-seven hour disappearance and my bloody parents had managed to go to sleep. Bloody inconsiderate if you ask me. (Knew I should have left it longer).

This all sounds so contrite doesnít it? Prodigal son returns after unexplained absence. Selfish, uncaring, irresponsible parents react in most unexpected, frankly rude way and well, the rest is made of true banalities. Come with me again to the moment I broke dear old dad's hand. He'd been standing with his back to me staring up at the roof, chuckling as he watched the neighbors cat slip into the open window that once slipped through would see him deposited onto the floor of my parents bedroom. Even after it had disappeared from view, he just stood there. Daydreaming perhaps. Who cares? So I ran at him, planning to surprise him and tackle him like we used to before I became the prodigal son. (Which was since this morning) and as I leapt, mid air, I suddenly had this thought that I wonder what it would be like if his hand broke. And as my chest landed on his slightly bent back and my palms pushed him to the floor, I felt him sort of smile. Or was it that I knew he would be? One of those inward smiles that he did when something touched him, or mother or I would do something that made him remember why he loved us. And we fell, feel towards the grass on our lawn, father and son, together, in mutual harmony. Headed for destruction. And as soon as I heard the noise I got off his back, (which was immediately) and I quickly stood up and looked at him. My guinea pig. I almost wanted to poke him, tell him to hurry up, to turn around and hold out his hand to me so that I could peer at this new thing that my eyes had never before seen - a new image to process and store along with all the others that they had collected. And all there was silence. A quiet. Like when you pull your duvet over you to protect you from the ghosts in your room and all your can hear is your heart, beating like a warriors drum and smashing around like a wild horse, rearing and bucking so that you become conscious of nothing else. And my father just lay there and I wondered what he was thinking. Perhaps he wished that he didn't have a son who was prodigal, perhaps he wished he just had a son. And so I bent down, my heels lifted off the floor and I placed my hand on the back of his shoulder and whispered, (I donít know why), sorry dad. Sorry. And I heard his breathing and knew that he knew. I knew and I saw what it would be like after. For always. And my hand stayed there, placed on his back. And I squeezed it, letting it rest there, knowing that these moments that were passing by, occurring and presenting themselves to my father and I were the most clear I had ever lived. And as my hand left my fathers shoulder and my heels went back to the earth and my legs straightened and then bent again as I began to walk out of the garden, that I had walked the other way through the previous morning. I felt like laughing. (Or crying? I'm never sure what it was and anyway the two are so closely linked.) Thatís why I hate that laughter, the one where you're stomach begins to ache and tears begin to drip down your face and still you laugh, laughing and wailing in perfect symbiosis. And you still. Can't. Stop. And when the gate of my garden shut and I turned and my feet began a walk that would take me here, I wasn't sure if those tears sliding down my cheeks were from laughter or a pain that had begun long ago.

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Comments by other Members

shandypockets at 11:55 on 22 April 2005  Report this post
Laura, I love the first part. The first nine words in themselves are irresistable, and the casual chatty tone is really ionteresting given the subject being talked about. I think it works really well.


laurafraser at 23:07 on 24 April 2005  Report this post
Thank-ypu Paul for commenting was thinking pile of bull for a bit there!

Happy Days,


Okkervil at 23:59 on 24 April 2005  Report this post
Gosh, this is brilliant! Really engaging, and then... weird, great the thought processes, the natural way the narrator speaks. Not so comfortable (as you alluded) with the first half as with the second- sometimes it's easy to go into pseudo-rant, but it reads like you're aware you're going into a rant, as opposed to being Real Mad. Definitely work on it, though can't give ye any concrete pointers, my Short Story Skills are shite enough as they are. And then the Hand Thing. Yeah, great first line. That's some hook, but nothing prepares the reader, even knowing well in advance the action that is coming, for the sudden change from slightly light-hearted, at any rate easy going, banter to the darkness of the mood when the father is on the ground. I liked how the action of hand-breakage isn't at all described- they're falling, and then he's getting up. Liked that. Liked a lot of it. Without being too sycophantic, 'cos I must have said this before: I like your writing. In this one, I loved the line 'I felt him sort of smile,' that you managed to capture such an awareness in a line. There were other lines I oiked, but I won't pick 'em all out. It was that one in particular, which of course made it all the sadder, at that moment in time it coulda gone either way. Man, I'm so glad I haven't alienated my dad yet. I'll wait a while.



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