The International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes
Jude C. Perera
He heard his tiny heart breaking into a million pieces; his mouth sagged around the edges. He was struggling courageously against the shameless tears, but his heart was already compromised. The tears exploited the weakness and smashed out in torrents, they drenched Bill’s chest as he hugged his little boy tightly against him.
He never meant to slap him, he would have rather died, but Ryan had forced his hand this time. He had a surplus of patience normally; Ryan had done the impossible and used it all up. His own tears were now trickling down towards the boy’s head.
Bill, MA in early child hood learning; was a strong advocate against the physical punishment of kids, while his wife Wendy clung to the opposing view with absolute commitment. And she backed it up with sincere application of the principle; he secretly admired the delicate equilibrium she brought to their child’s upbringing. He wore the mantle of the favourite parent with feeble confidence.
The little ten year old had stopped shaking, he felt his father’s mute apology and had decided instantly to forgive him. But he was now enjoying the hug more than anything, these days his parents were obsessing over something, he did not know what, and hugs were in short supply. But he wanted answers and craned his hurt face fully towards his father; Bill did his best to brush his wet cheeks dry, as subtly as he could, before the boy spotted them.
‘I was just playing Daddy, I was bored, Tony’s gone to visit his grandparents in Queensland, and you told me to play in the garden’
The boy spilled his restored heart out in one burst of accusation and self-pity. Bill scavenged for words for the first time in a long while. The question was simple, but he knew that simplifying the answer would be hard. And he hated to say, “because I told you not to”, he was too qualified for that.
‘How many times has daddy told you not to play in the new trench at the back, would you mind telling me?’
He asked, gently stroking his son’s hair, and eating up his professional pride all the while. He was referring to his little masterpiece near the back fence He felt comfort return as the boy looked up again, this time with resigned understanding.
Bill hated manual labour of any kind; in his books this justified any price he paid for hired hands. Wendy had done her best to convert him, but he had perfected the habit of passive resistance with annoying diligence. The trench was an exception, it demanded personal attention, it was a work-in-progress bunker really. And it had his son’s welfare firmly cemented in; he still couldn’t explain it to his son. But now he had got into a position of some resilience, which assisted him to forgive himself. Ryan had pulled back the tarpaulin that covered the bunker to shoot at his boredom with a friendly bow and arrow, and the flash Millpark rain had flooded it, even before the concrete had fully set. His crime threatened to renew Bill’s indignation, but this time he was firmly on top. He gave Ryan’s hair a final pull and both parted in peace. He made a mental note to pitch his tarpaulin firmly next time and silently pledged not to hit his son again. Maturity needed time, he sighed with its wisdom. A ten year old would never have enough of it, to fully appreciate the end of the Mayan calendar and the imminent nuclear strike it promised once it ended, he walked towards the trench with determination.
The trench finally looked like the bunker it was meant to be, the sun had returned and maintained status and Bill had finished re-concreting. His son had returned to the scene of his crimes with a forgetful mind and an unrepentant heart, several times, but had failed to make an impression of any kind. The heavy trap door and the thick walls, both propped up by concealed steel broke the boy’s will and as his father suspected; his enthusiasm for the distraction.
Bill acknowledged his wife’s unspoken admiration with great humility, and brought his project to a close with an artist’s flourish, with two fresh coatings of camouflage green. He even took Ryan on a grand tour across its entire length of ten meters, and was even moved by the boy’s adulation. But he caved into the boy’s exasperating persistence.
‘Just before Christmas this year, some bad people will fire terrible missiles into where people live and try to destroy the world, we can only be safe in the bunker, ok’?
‘But Grandpa said people are already killing our world, is he wrong’? Ryan had merely started his cross-examination.
‘Well, Grandpa got it wrong this time’
Bill savaged his father-in-law with relish, exhaling steam as he did. Perhaps maturity was not a function of time after all, he sighed again.
‘What about, Tony, will they be all right’?
Bill noted his son’s concern, but sidestepped with compassion. ‘Well, there will be very few people left in this world, we will be among them’
‘But what about all the shops and malls Dad’? Ryan carried on, now with a ring of concern.
‘There won’t be any left’ Bill was desperate to see the end.
‘But then where will we buy food from, won’t we starve anyhow.’ His father escorted him out in a painful grip.
There were three weeks of dimly illuminated darkness, as chaos rained around them. They sang carols, exchanged gifts and hugs and even decorated a miniature Christmas tree. Then, with an expensive gas mask making him gag, Ryan stepped out with his parents into a new world; totally unchanged. There were some minor exceptions, like the new fence their new neighbors had made to move fractionally. He knew there would be war when his mother eventually took it up, and wondered if this was what his father had promised.
Ryan howled, his sobs racking his mother’s chest.
‘What’s wrong with you, surely there was no need to slap him.’ Wendy yelled, her stare lancing through Bill’s sheet of shocked disbelief.
‘He was stripping the paint off with his stupid arrows, and this was not the first time’
Bill fired back on impotent decibels. And his hands were itching for another hit.
Wendy was unmoved.
‘C’mon grow up will you, we both know that they got the calendar wrong, we still have two more years, so plenty of time to repaint the thing’
Bill glared back stupidly.
© Jude Perera November 2012
Jude's other fiction publishing credits include; (Hackwriters) My Mom, My Niece, The Honest Politician
Terry sighed and looked away. It was a long sigh; there was bitterness in it. His tax dollar was funding some of those lazy bums. The injustice bit into him. There were too many to count on the beach, late morning, and mid week, getting their sun fix.
The Other Son
Jude C Perera
‘I am going Mother, Good Night’
She barely heard him; picking up whispers was a luxury at her age. She looked swiftly but he beat her to it. Those blue sparklers were tucked well away from her adoring gaze.
+ It's a Glorious Day - Fiction 365, Redemption and I Don't Love My Dolls Anymore - The Fringe Magazine.
His Travel narratives have been featured on the international online travel magazine Travelmag,
Touchdown In Colombo (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=4681)
Monuments and Sarees – A Tour of North India (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=5721)
Too Close To Elephants in a Sri Lankan Forest (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=6256)