Rubicon

I’m moving out.” The boy said quietly, looking at no one in particular.

The dinner table was usually a quiet place. His parents were as often as not engaged in silent combat and the kids would rush to finish eating and then get busy with the dishes before the storm broke.

Now, almost everything stopped. His oldest sister looked at him across the table, her cheeks flushing and her mouth dropping open. They were close and she knew about his plans, but suddenly the moment was here. His younger sister missed these opening tremors and picked at her pork chop.

He turned his head to the sound of a fork clattering on china. His mother was staring at him, her eyes wide and her mouth working in silence. “Where will you go?” she finally asked, looking from him to his father and back.

“I’ve found a place downtown,” he told her, nervously adding additional details, “An attic apartment. The ceilings are a little low but I like it, and its not too far from work.”

His eyes slid from hers to the other end of the table. His father speared a carrot and without looking up from his plate asked, “When?” as if this wasn’t the most significant event in his son’s life. As if he’d said he was going to the movies.

“Saturday. Archie will pick me up,” Letting him know that he was independent now and didn’t need anything from him.

Life with his father had almost made him shrink from this confrontation but he’d been fantasizing about this moment for months. He had turned eighteen just the week before. He was a man now and eager to be gone. He had planned the conversation carefully, confidently anticipating each response and he sat trembling in anticipation, arguments and recriminations at the ready.

His father put his fork down and studied him for a few moments and the boy imagined that he was considering options. This was definitely not what had been planned but no man-of-the-house reaction would work here. My-way-or-the-highway was staring his old man in the face.

Later that night, with time to think and in his bed in his parent’s house for the last time, he would be shocked at the indifference he’d heard in his father’s voice. It would linger in his memory.

“Well, be out by six. We have company coming and we don’t want to be disturbed.” ©

___________

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6 thoughts on “Rubicon

  1. The indifference was sharp like a razor. The boys throat was cut by it and he did not know till later how deep it went. A grown man wrote this piece. Well done Sir.

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  2. This feels real. You can cut the tension with a fork. I think you can drop the first sentence altogether and start with – The dinner table was usually a quiet place. – so that the reader immediately has a sense of lace. OR, in screenwriting we teach that often rather than starting a scene at the beginning, drop the reader right into the middle of the action as if they’d just just been made privy to something that has been going on for a while – in this case you could also start with – “I’ve found a place downtown,” – many possibilities, whatever the choices, the writer has the power to set the tone & mood – a slow unfolding or a shocking crash … it’s all good.

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  3. You could keep the now-grown man’s reflection about the lingering memory by using it to introduce the father’s comment and leave off the rest of that final paragraph. It would make a nice foil to the my-way-or-the-highway section. [Just thinking out loud here.]

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  4. I can feel this one. “Almost everything stopped” is a great line. That entire paragraph is strong. I think I might have ended on the father’s last words and let my readers chew on the comment instead of digesting it for them. For what it’s worth.

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