Wednesday December 9th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: denial.

Max spent the day with Kat's mom and Natalie while Kat and I went up to Penticton for a midwife appointment. Probably the quickest one yet, thanks to us having hardly any questions. Heard the baby's heartbeat and were on our way.

We also took the opportunity to do a bit of shopping and to go out for lunch. Neither of us had much energy, thanks to Kat's lingering cold and my new minor cold, but it was still a nice outing.


Snow fell heavily that night, blanketing the ground around the house with a white so pure it could have been Earth's wedding dress. He stood at the living room window, an empty glass in his hand, and watched the drifts grow higher and higher.

When dawn broke all that had changed was that he had brought a chair to the window to sit in. The glass was still empty, his eyes were still focused on the snow. Sleep had not deprived him of a moment of the storm's progress.

Although it is entirely likely he was not aware that it was snowing at all.

His thoughts, you see, were far away. His focus, unwavering as it was, did not lay on the weather. Not how it might affect his day, nor his work, not even his car, which was by then barely visible in the driveway. No, his mind belonged to not a what, but a who.

And that who was a she.

And that she... was not coming back.

No matter how long he might wait.


Greg said...

Hehe, having done it all once before does reduce the number of questions :) Next time the midwife could be sat there saying she can't hear the heartbeat but she can hear a mariachi band and you'll be shrugging and assuring her it'll turn out fine.
While your story definitely treats the theme of denial I still feel a little cheated by it: you introduced the snow and made it seem important, and then it turns out it's just the backdrop. In seven paragraphs it gets nearly three, and all the longest ones – it feels really odd when that's just pushed aside. Perhaps this could go on your to-be-continued list so I can get some resolution? Pretty please? :)

The air was smoky in the café: the owner wasn't a recidivist who was ignoring the indoor-smoking ban, the pastry chef was just having an especially bad day and had managed to burn a tray of cinnamon buns and scorch her caramel while trying to save them. Charred, bitter notes filled the air and made the coffees and teas that had been served seem darker and more earthy.
Callista sat at a window-table. Opposite her was Frieda, who was wearing a black blouse unbuttoned lower than Callista felt was appropriate. But she'd been friends with Frieda since college and Frieda had always been more – daring, she decided – than Callista.
"What've you got this week?" asked Frieda. She sipped her coffee and made a moue with her lips.
"Denial," said Callista, trying hard not to sigh. She failed.
"Yours or theirs?" Frieda had set her cup down was tackling her raspberry torte with energy. Little flecks of red spattered the edges of her plate like a traffic accident.
"Theirs. Well, his I suppose. Mr. Harris still seems to think he can find a clever excuse not to pay my bill."
"Of course. I'll tell him paying bills will give him an orgasm; he'll be ecstatic for a couple of weeks and then back again to confront his neurosis about being happy."
Frieda made little noises of contentment as she swallowed the last of the cake, and set her fork down. It rattled slightly against the china. "It's a bit unethical though," she said. "Making him keen to pay his bills."
"Turning up planning on not paying is immoral," said Callista. "Six of one, half a dozen of the other. What would you do?"
"Probably worse," admitted Frieda after a moment's thought. "Well, I've got denial as well, oddly enough. I've got a blogger who's pretending that the comments on her blog are written by real people and is upset by the nasty things they say about her."
"Sounds like a classic transference," said Callista. "Doesn't it?"
"Oh no," said Frieda. "She's knows exactly what she's doing, she just wants me to listen and tell her what a wonderful person she is. Narcissistic personality disorder with a healthy dose of denial."
"How are you going to treat that then?"
"I've started commenting on her blog for her under an assumed name."

Kyle said...

I knew this day would come, eventually. Nothing I did could stop it, only delay it - or more aptly, fool myself into thinking such. There was nothing for it now but to own up to this.

Paul, my son, was gone, lost in the woods.

I sighed. My shoulders slumped, my head drooped. It was as if my body was turning into lead, gradually working its way down. It was hard to breathe, and my throat felt so tight that it hurt.

The manhunt had gone on for a week, and no amount of search dogs or choppers or hopeful, eager volunteers on foot could change what had been found.

One shredded, bloody shoe. A trail of broken branches, stained a sticky, dark red. Then nothing.

Paul hurt himself. He tripped on a rock, cut his shin. Lost his shoe in the fall. He's only eight; he probably just panicked and didn't notice the lost shoe until it was too late.

Barbara was a huddled mess in the corner of the rangers' cabin, sobbing so hard that she didn't even make a sound. My hands clenched tight enough to hurt. I would find him, where dozens of others had failed. Paul was my son, it was my job to find him! And bring him home safe.

The police and wilderness rangers urged me not to go - but were powerless to stop me. A pack of provisions, a quick-set tent, and a flare gun were all I needed. This wasn't a recreational trip anymore.

I set out into the woods at sundown, two weeks ago now. There were choppers flying around again a couple days ago. I hid under some heavy scrub brush - my job wasn't done yet. They haven't been back.

My food's gone and it's been hard to get ahold of anything from the wilderness around me.

I might die out here.

I'm sorry, Paul.

Marc said...

Greg - I might get back to this one eventually. But mostly I was using the snow as misdirection, though perhaps I overdid it a little.

I like the scene setting you do in the opening, particularly the detail about how the coffee is altered by the smoke. That's a nice touch.

Also enjoyed the back and forth between these two. This pair intrigues me and I would be happy to hear more from them!

Kyle - hello, and sorry for the delayed welcome to the blog! I've been terribly behind on comments but I'm working on correcting that now.

Oof, that packed a serious punch. Especially for me, having a son of my own (only three, but still) and another on the way. Excellent attention to detail and, as mentioned, it really packs an emotional wallop.

Great work and I hope to see more of your writing here on the blog soon :)