12.20.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by William Eggleston
Photo by William Eggleston

December 20, 2014: We were her boys.

5 Replies to “12.20.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. A man can go his whole life and never get it figured out. That’s what I’ve decided. Some guys get into drinking or drugging, chasing women or fast cars; building themselves up to something they’re not. Never looking in the mirror even once at their drunken face. Must have been where dad was at when he left us.

    Me and my brother Mitch had gotten used to his leaving for short hauls across the state and not coming back till then next day. He would be calling Ma telling her something about his truck couldn’t be unloaded till morning, or the roads were bad, or whatever. Ma would listen to him quiet like and hang up the phone. I could see her hold her head for a second like she was catching her breath.

    But the day this picture was taken dad told us he had to head out across country. It was going to be a long trip, he said. All the way to California, he said. Important load. Big deal that he got asked to drive it. So he took this Polaroid to remember the moment. Used the camera that Ma got at a garage sale.

    It was early morning and he wanted us to stand out on the road by the mailbox. Me and Mitch and Ma. He had his big rig all ready to roll with the exhaust stacks popping and the engine shaking the ground we stood on. That’s me with the big jacket. Dad gave it to me and said he wanted me to remember him with it. I guess he had a heart in there somewhere.

    He climbed up into the cab, waved good-bye, and that was it. He never came back. Never called or wrote. Nothing. As the days and nights passed we could hear Ma crying in her room. But she would always get us off to school in the morning with a smiling face, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. We got closer when we knew it was over. We held each other real tight. Ma said we were her boys. And there wasn’t nothing we wouldn’t do for her.

    It’s been years now looking back at this old photograph. I got a woman and kids of my own now, working hard at the shop to pay the bills. And sure, I get days when I would like to just chuck it all and walk out like dad. Like when the wife’s yelling about me helping out more, or the kids are tearing up the place or getting on my last nerve. Or when the boss is riding me and my check won’t cover the bills. Sure it would be easy to just jump in an eighteen-wheeler and drive off.

    But I could never do what he did to us. Never. At least that much I have figured out. Mitch would probably be on my case if I ever did anything that stupid. And Ma would never let me do to my family what he did to her. We are still close, and I’m still her boy, after all.

      1. Appreciate the encouragement from you, Philip, and now Lindsay. As you know this play is not really fun but certainly pleasurable. Finding that once the character is created I need to get out of the way. This particular photo told me their story before it was written, and still hooks me when I read it over. Scary stuff. Will keep at it, and thanks for the comments.

  2. Neatly rounded and full story. I like that the life of the narrator isn’t a happy-ever-after thing, that it’s just a slog as it is for the rest of us and it takes a special kind of staying power to not go, a power rooted in loss and ache. This is a great wee tale.

    1. Lindsay
      So gracious of you to read my postings and comment. I also am slogging along here in writing and trying new voices and formats. You are right in observing that I’m not a fan of happy-ever-after. I have a passion for the nature of the glue that helps us all keep going. Will keep at it. Thanks again.

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