Tag Archives: Parenthood

HOME MOVIES by Adam Gianforcaro

The clicking of the Super 8 film,
grainy on screen.
My mother pregnant and then a mother
for the first time.
My brother splashed naked
in an inflatable pool on their tiny city porch
off of Simpson Street.
My dad said he has class then:
low class. 1982 and smiling.

ADAM GIANFORCARO is the Social Media Director of Philadelphia Stories literary magazine and has been published or been accepted for publication in 50-Word Stories, Battered Suitcase and The Stray Branch.

KNOWING ALWAYS COMES TOO LATE by Michael Radon

It was a bright sunny day, the day of Roxanne’s burial. From across the road I could hear children laughing, playing even. Just another slight I’d take the Creator to task for when I got a chance. The sight of that box going in that dirt hole was enough to wear me down. Knowing something is a lot different than seeing something, and the sight of that killed a big part of me.

I used to fawn over her and tell her how perfect she was, which certainly was not true. Every time she broke my heart without batting an eye, or made me cross with rage by some comment crafted just so to pierce right through my resolve, it was like I was plucking those flower petals to get to “she loves me not,” and when I got there I packed my things and left. I know that wasn’t the gentlemanly thing to do, especially considering that meant leaving her to keep raising Melinda on her own, but know that flower metaphor had an awful lot of petals.

Word came to me through one of her old friends, who I kept in touch with through the odd holiday letter. I’d ask about her, and Melinda, and didn’t feel like such a monster then, and for my diligence, I’d get some kind of report about Roxanne as a footnote. I guess the sickness came fast, because it had only been five months since the last letter, and there wasn’t any news of it in there.

She told me Roxanne had passed and I had to stop reading for the night. She asked me to attend the services, said it was the honorable thing to do by her, and to hell with what anybody might say to me. She assured me that it wasn’t a ploy to take Melinda on, she’d gone to stay with Roxanne’s mother, and even if I wanted to make an effort to get her from there, I doubt the respectful Mrs. Stevens would have even let me on the property without calling for my head. I spent a long time thinking about what to do with that. I wrote back and said I wouldn’t be able to make it, but I arranged to send some flowers for the thought.

That only made me feel worse.

Tried drinking it away, tried to forget it and just move on. Death just happens. No sense in making a fuss over it. But that made me feel more the asshole. Finally, I resolved to go in secret, pay my respects, and leave town again. That would just be a chapter in my life I’d finally have to turn my back on completely, and live out my days treating that history like a war – significant, but better not dwelt on daily. I owed her a lot more than an apology, but that was all I could focus on without blubbering.

It got me to thinking that I hoped that when you die, you get to take in the knowledge of everything. Everything people thought about you, and think about you, and what all transpires. You get to take it all in like a sudden eureka and process it without any of the fuss of having to be alive to deal with it. The thought of that gave me a little peace, that maybe she knew I was sorry for giving up and leaving.

All was said and done very quietly and somberly. I saw her friends, her family, I saw Mrs. Stevens crying, and I know she didn’t see me or she would have stopped to give me an earful at best. I lingered around in the shade of an oak tree a good ways off from Roxanne’s grave in the hopes that maybe I could get a few moments alone with her to put it all to rest. I sat against the tree, lit a cigarette, and smoked it in sighs.

It was getting dark, and the last few cicadas of the season were stubbornly begging for more summer. There wasn’t much wind, and if the kids hadn’t gone home already, I wouldn’t have heard them playing over the tires kicking up gravel as all the cars were leaving. A few more minutes and I’d say my goodbyes.

“Annie told me you weren’t coming.”

Surprised, I turned my head quick and saw Melinda, her face looking a lot more composed and strong than mine. I guess after everything she’d been through, her mother dying was just another drop in the bucket for her. Then I noticed she was holding a sleeping toddler in her arms.

“Shit, Melinda. I’m a grand dad?”

“No, just a father of two.”

I flicked the cigarette away to the side. “Can’t say that provides me any more peace of mind.”

“You piece of shit.” Melinda whispered. “So what, you sneak in through the window to get your kicks with mom and not have to see me?” She looked ready to hit me.

“Don’t go makin’ it dramatic, Melinda. Show some respect for your mother.”

“Respect? Did you respect her by walking out and leaving her to raise me by herself? Did you respect her when you got her pregnant again without even being a big enough part of her life to know between now and then? Tell me, dad, when exactly did you respect any of us?”

“What do you want me to do? Take you both in, take care of you? ‘Be a dad?’”

“No.” Her voice started to shake. “Never.” She clenched her open fist and looked right in my eyes. “I just want you to go away.”

I stood up, brushing the dirt off the back of my pants and looking for the right thing to say, the fatherly thing to tell my daughter, but the words didn’t come and I don’t think she wanted to hear them. “Okay.” I took a last look at my young son and then walked away.

Melinda stood still. Didn’t run after me, didn’t want the last word, just wanted to make sure I was gone for good. I try not to entertain thoughts of her ever forgiving me, because that day may never come. I think about it a lot, though, the same way I saw Roxanne clearly when she fought with me; that’s the way I like to imagine Melinda as the years go by. Independent, fierce, her mother’s daughter.

Maybe when my card is pulled, I’ll know if she really hates me as much as she said.

MICHAEL RADON‘s lifelong obsession with digital media makes him an ideal addition to your local pub trivia team. His latest project is growing a beard in an attempt to make people believe him when he says he writes for a living. His irrelevant observations are recorded daily through his blog and twitter.

DAD by Gretchen Hintze

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Did you see that?”

“Did I see what?”

“The thing that was on the side of the road.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Oh.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“We are headed to California right?”

“Right.”

“I won’t get to go back to Florida again, will I?”

“No. California will be nice. There is a lot less humidity.”

“Ok.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Will you play a game with me?”

“Sure, what kind of game?”

“Can we play I Spy?”

“Whatever you want.”

“Do you want to start or should I start?”

“You can start.”

“Ok. I spy with my little eye something blue.”

“That car?”

“No.”

“That sign?”

“No.”

“My briefcase”

“No.”

“Can I get a hint?”

“It is outside the car.”

“There is nothing outside besides desert and the occasional cactus.”

“It is outside.”

“I give up.”

“The sky.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Do you have parents?”

“Well, my father died five years ago, but my mom is around.”

“Does she live in California?”

“Yes she does. She actually lives in L.A., about a ten minute drive from my house, our house.”

“Will I get to meet her?”

“Yeah. I don’t know exactly when. She is on vacation in Aspen right now.”

“What does she look like?”

“She is rather short; you’ll tower over her in a couple of years. Her hair is curly and blonde. It should be gray, but that woman visits the salon every week. She sometimes wears glasses, but that is only when she is at home with no company. She couldn’t see a deer in the bathtub, but that doesn’t matter when her girlfriends come over for Daiquiris. ‘I will not be put out to pasture like a 300 pound flight attendant. I am going to strangle my youth into obedience until Beelzebub himself wiggles my fingers loose.’ I get to hear that phrase every time I talk to her about going to the doctor or taking it easy.

“Ok.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Where are we?”

“Somewhere in Texas.”

“That is a George Strait song.”

“You like country music?”

“Yeah, what kind of music do you like?”

“I like Jazz mostly.”

“When are we going to get there?”

“Tomorrow night.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“What is your house like?”

“It isn’t exactly a house. It is sort of like a condo. There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Floor to ceiling windows. There is a media room and my office. On the ground floor there is a gym, restaurant, and pool. They will send up room service 24 hours. It is one of Bobby Flay’s restaurants.

“Ok.”

“Does that make sense?”

“Is a condo an apartment?”

“Yes.”

“Ok.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Didn’t you just go a half hour ago?”

“Yes.”

“How can you have to go to the bathroom so soon again?”

“I drank the two liter of Squirt.”

“You drank that whole thing!”

“Yes.”

“We have a few miles before another gas station so you better hold it.”

“Ok.”

***

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Never mind.”

***

“I think you will like your new school.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. It’s private. There is an Olympic size swimming pool, a fencing club, the teachers all have graduate degrees. I met with your teacher and he seems to be very nice. He seems as though he really knows how to handle a third grade classroom.”

“Will I have to wear a uniform?”

“Yes.”

“I never had to wear a uniform before.”

“It won’t be that bad. You won’t have to pick out clothes to wear each morning.”

“Mom picked out my clothes.”

GRETCHEN HINTZE is creative writing student at Concordia University and has had work previously published by Foliate Oak and Clutching at Straws.

COMIC by Stan Yan

STAN YAN grew up in Denver, Colorado and went to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he got his bachelor’s degree in accounting. Due to the lack of sex-for-recruiting for accounting students, Yan’s life took the tragic turn into sales for the securities industry, where he wallowed in ethical poverty on-and-off for thirteen years. He’s given up on financial security by taking up freelance cartooning full time since 2005. He’s a member of the Squid Works Comics Cooperative. His credits include creating The Wang, illustrating SubCulture, writing and coloring REVVVelations. He also teaches Graphic Storytelling at the Community College of Aurora and comic and cartooning Summer Camps, workshops, and enrichment programs, so protect your kids!