Micro-Story: Family

For something different, a small story. (I can understand that I’ve made a few questionable choices in how I have written this).


It was a chilly morning but the crisp weather was warm compared to the glaciers which moved slowly through her veins. She had made her emotions a block of ice, impenetrable and unyielding. Though she loved him, truly she did, she still had to leave. After 53 years of marriage it had just become too much. You could push a heavy load for only so long, and she had pushed it far beyond her capability. It was not defeat but the end of a heroic effort that could not be continued. He didn’t appreciate the struggle and hurt it was causing her. An injury sustained during the Vietnam War had robbed them of the children. Even still, they’d never been able to enjoy the freedom of independence that no children should bring. She could feel her husband’s eyes following her as he walked to the end of the driveway, saying nothing. They’d both said all they had to say and neither of them had been able to compromise. She knew he was hurting inside, beneath the stoic facade and she fought to maintain the same facade. She would not break down and relent. Not this time. She was finally thinking of herself, of escape. She focused on her movements, not her emotions, and carried her suitcase the final metres to the car idling on the road.

Her older brother stood on the other side of the car feeling awkward. He didn’t know where to look, much less what to do. There were no tears between his sisters and her husband; that made it almost worse. He couldn’t fault either of them and didn’t want to choose a side. He liked his brother-in-law, and though they’d lived a difficult life his brother-in-law had always cared for his sister well. When his sister called last night asking for a ride and a place to stay he had to help. She was going to ‘find her own place’ at the age of 70. The situation seemed so odd, so sad. Why was there a lump in his throat? He wished he was anywhere but here, participating in this sad event. He took the suitcase from his sister and heaved it into the boot. His sister, moved quickly to sit in the passenger side of the car. He looked at his brother-in-law with pursed lips and gave a sad wave goodbye. Surely they would still see each other, although it seemed likely it would be far less now.

“Goodbye,” her husband called. She pretended not to have heard him. He watched her sit in the car without so much as a look in his direction, her gaze now fixated out the windscreen. He wanted to go to her and beg but knew she wouldn’t listen. Communication between the two of them had been severed and the cost to re-establish it was one he couldn’t pay. He wanted to give her one last kiss or one last hug. He couldn’t bear it if she responded to the affection like a stone, like so many times in recent months. He had always worried, at the back of his mind, about how he might cope if she died before him. The grief would be too much. Never had he considered she might leave of her own volition before death came. He wondered if there had been anything more he could have said to make her stay. It was unlikely – they’d both talked so much over several years – and yet, he wished he found the words that made a difference. The difficulties of life had masked the beauty of their love in her eyes. The obligation was too heavy and it had never torn at his heart and soul so viciously as it did as his brother-in-law climbed into the car.

“Where is Aunty going?” his 45-year-old brother asked cheerfully from behind the safety of the fence. He smiled brightly with simple delight, “Are we still going to see the ducks today?”

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Happy Father’s Day

(I’m aware I’m a daily early; tomorrow will be busy).

I am not a father, but I do have one. For my entire life – to this day (and undoubtedly beyond) my father has been a blessing to me. Though not perfect, my father has been a positive role model in my life. He has taught me a strong work ethic and the importance of responsibility and integrity. He has been an example that I’d want to emulate and has done everything within his power to set me up for success.

My wife also has a father, and without a doubt her father is in-part responsible for the life that she’s led, and the amazing woman that she has become. I have also been accepted into her family. So, I am doubly-thankful to my “second dad”.

It doesn’t take much (for most people) to have a child, but it certainly takes an enormous and constant decision of the will, to be a good parent.

Dedicated fathering should always be celebrated and honoured.

2015 Report Card

Making goals for the coming year is relatively easy, achieving them is somewhat harder. But before we launch into the new year with hopes and expectations we’d do well to look at the past year. What we need is a little crazy eyes – one eye looking forward and one eye looking back. (Of course with only one eye looking back, your perspective would be wrong… but don’t read too much into the title – I mostly wanted an excuse to use the below photo…)

Crazy Eyes
From the very funny movie, Mr Deeds

How did I go at achieving last year’s goals? What things can I celebrate and what should serve as cautions for the future?

Mistakes will happen while we’re still breathing. There is normally a cost with mistakes, but there can also be benefits.

A mistake is made worse if we fail to learn from it; otherwise we can call it an unpleasant learning experience.

WritingA

While I did complete my goal of a first draft of Vengeance Will Come I did so about five or six months after when I had hoped.  Is the timeline a failure in itself? I don’t think so. My original target was over-ambitious;  I failed to consider the weaknesses in my plot which would require additional time to remedy. The story is now a far better product for the extra investment. (Like so many things in life quality is worth waiting for).

I had similar problems with other writing projects and timelines. I am however proud of the amount of effort and time that I have put into writing this year. No one can legitimately say that I haven’t been disciplined.

So from this I learn:

  • Try to identify plot flaws before they become a problem; it will cost less time to fix the earlier they are found. ‘Measure twice, cut once’ is an adage worth living by.
  • Set writing deadlines (aka milestones). When deadlines blow out, reschedule them. Be aware of external commitments and factor them in (e.g. assume very little writing will occur around Christmas, despite what you may think). The more deadlines set, the more accurate estimates will become.
  • Technique discipline. Try to write through an entire first draft without going back to rewrite sections. This will save a lot of time.

BloggingB

My blog is my platform for talking to other authors and hopefully in time engaging with readers. I’ve done OK but I need to be more consistent in posting and put more thought into targeting.

If all you are interested in is writing, this is the end of the blog post.

If you are curious in personal matters, please continue…


 

HealthB

Health is a very important thing for all living beings. Dead ones: not so much. Make health a priority.

I haven’t cared for my health as much as I had hoped for at the beginning of the year. Writing by its very nature can mean long hours sitting, which is exactly what I do at work…not a healthy lifestyle. My one saving grace that has saved me from a ‘C’ is that I did finally undertake some tests which I had been avoiding for years (and which came out all good).

  • Discipline with taking time to being active. Accept that this means sometimes exercise over writing, but it will keep me living (and writing) for longer. Don’t let weather be an excuse.
  • Master food. It’s called restraint, and I should have a double helping of that!

FamilyB plus

I am blessed to have an amazing wife and an amazing marriage to go along with it.

If I look at my wider family there is still work that I need to do. I don’t always act the way that I wish I would. If it takes a village to raise a child, I think I am sometimes absent… I’d like to be a better Uncle and a better brother.

FaithB plus

There have been some highlights and some not-so-great points. Again, I feel that I didn’t take full advantage of the possibilities of the year. There were some great times, but how much better could it have been? Was there too much of me, and not enough of Jesus?