Friday, September 29, 2006

A Time of War and a Time of Peace

They ate quietly. Nobody spoke because for once, it was silent. It was a miracle in itself that the family of three was all at the table together at all. Hope, being grounded for the umpteenth time sat glaring a hole alternately through the center of her untouched food and various family members seething because she couldn’t be out with Gloria. Now sixteen, she could drive, but Hope came home at 2:00 this morning, two hours after curfew, and was forced to surrender her keys for the weekend. She was still livid from being cooped up in the house all Saturday flipping between Laguna Beech and reruns of Golden Girls.
Justin was almost finished wolfing down his second steak; oblivious to the looks of disgust he occasionally received from Hope when he crammed so many fries into his mouth that he was very well close to gagging. Hope gagged for him. The baby of the family, Justin was born two months after Hope’s second birthday. He was a jock of sorts, aspiring to be a sports caster or a writer for Sports Illustrated©, but lacking the grades to be so. Justin had an air of laid-back underachievement about him. Smart enough to succeed when he applied himself, but almost never finding the motivation to do so.
Tim, the newest man in a seemingly endless line of stepfathers and boyfriends after Bill (Hope’s father) walked out, sat ignoring the half eaten medium steak and cold fries before him waiting politely for everyone to finish. This was his first visit to Molly’s house and his first time meeting the kids. Tim liked Molly and he wanted to make a good impression on the kids since their opinion was probably a big part in whether or not the three-week fling between him and Molly would continue.
Molly, single mother of two, still hurt from the night that she discovered Bill, her first husband, in their bed with another woman, sat looking at her two children. Hope had been Molly’s first child, born eight months after her and Bill’s honeymoon*. She smiled at that thought. Molly remembered that time, when the love that was shared between the couple seemed as if it would last forever; that a story would be written about their love that would become the most wonderful fairy tale ever told. But then again, the relationship of ten years had been just that, a little story that never was. Ironically, the divorce that ensued was the story most people would have read, it was a battle of epic proportions. Molly’s lawyer wanted a hefty amount of child support and half of Bill’s estate while Bill and his team of lawyers tried to get off with a five thousand dollar settlement. The suit went on for months. Molly had already secured custody of the kids and, though she could never prove it, Bill had hired people to harass her and the two children. Finally Bill gave up, Molly received the house and five hundred dollars a month in child support. Though she was still hurt, Molly knew that Hope and Justin needed a father figure. She had married and divorced twice and had numerous boyfriends in the six years that had passed since…
Molly couldn’t stand the silence anymore. “So kids, how was your Saturday?”
“If vath okay I gueth, Tham and me-”
“Finish chewing you pig”
“Shut up Hope, it’s not like you know what eating is like anyway.”
“Oh, you little bra-“
“Justin! That was rude. And Hope’s right, don’t talk with your mouth full.”
“Anyway,” said Justin scowling at Hope. “Sam and me went to the arcade and I beat the Area 51 high score! I killed 500 aliens without dying!” Justin leaned back in his chair with an air of smug satisfaction.
“Oh that’s a great use of time and money. I could think of a thousand other things to do besides wasting my money at an arcade on a dumb shooting game.” was Hope’s angry reply.
“What like wasting $200 on a pair of ripped up jeans that don’t even fit you, or puking in the bathroom after dinner, or staying out ‘till two AM doing your nails?”
“Mom, Justin is the one that tore up the siding in the back yard, not some guy vandalizing our house.”
“Well Hope and her friends are the ones that broke the ceramic goose on the mantle.”
“Justin sneaks out every Wednesday night to play craps down the street.”
“Hope takes Smirnoff Ice from the garage.”
“THAT’S ENOUGH!!” screamed Molly. “Both of you go to your rooms right now! You will both be hearing from me later!”
“What did I do?” protested Hope. “I’ve been stuck in the house all day!”
“Well that’s your fault now isn’t it?” replied Molly.
“I already told you! Gloria and I lost track of time.”
“Yeah, you two were having soooo much fun doing nails,” scoffed Justin. “I’ll bet that they lost track of time because they were too busy making out with their boyfriends.”
“So! Who wants a drink? I sure do!” said Tim rising from his seat.
“Upstairs. Now!” Molly said.
Reluctantly, with furious looks at each other and their mother, Justin and Hope sulked their way upstairs to their rooms, being confirmed seconds later by two slamming doors.
“I’m really sorry about all of this Tim. The kids fight from time to time and as they say, when it rains, it pours,” apologized Molly as she began to clear the table.
“Oh, that’s fine. I remember being that age. My brother and I always were fighting about something or other. And sometimes, it would get kind of nasty, but we still loved each other,” replied Tim as he followed Molly with more plates from the table.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Molly agreed. “I just don’t remember my fights with my brother being so cruel,” she added as she began loading the dishwasher.
“Well, every sibling pair has a different temperament. Some kids express their emotions different ways. Just watch, they’ll get this thing settled before you know it,” promised Tim as he closed the dishwasher and started it. “Now,” he added as he sidled up to Molly “if I remember correctly, there is a bottle of Merlot in my car. You want to pop it open?”
“Oh I don’t know Tim,” said Molly. “It was a long day at the office and now I’ve got two furious kids waiting for me in their rooms.”
“Are you sure?” asked Tim. “Nothing calms the nerves like a nice glass of wine with a friend.”
“You know,” replied Molly “I really would enjoy that, but- just not tonight. I’m really sorry Tim.”
“No, I understand. Maybe we can do this again sometime,” said Tim.
“Yeah, maybe. Thank you so much for understanding,” replied Molly.

Twenty minutes later, after Tim kissed her goodbye, Molly made her way upstairs to the rooms of her children, hoping beyond hope that she could find the right words to say.

*You can do the math on that one right?


Gloria Glo said...

Hey! Welcome back!

I can't imagine the long wait for comments made you feel less self-conscious about this...I think it's pretty good. Does it have a part 2?

Lianne said...

This is to notify you that you are a WINNER of a 2006 Blog God Award. Please visit the Blog God Award Site at 8:05 a.m. PDT Friday, October 6th to view your category and award. You may use the image attached to an email sent to you, or you may request an image from the Committee should you wish to post on ityour blog, because. After all, you are a WINNER and a BLOGGER and you want to tell the world.


The 2006 Blog God Award Committee

Screaming Buffalo said...

Wow, nobody is commenting. Where *are* you guys?

Radioactive Jam said...

Oops, sorry. Fell out of the check-the-buffalo routine!

I thought most of it flowed real well. After the two warriors went upstairs, the remaining bits seemed to run a little too fast. I mean, the dialog between Tim and Molly is fine, there just didn't seem to be "enough" of it to cover the amount of time that passed. Of course, it takes me a *long* time to load a dishwasher so probably it just sems overly short to me. And I don't mean to imply you should add a bunch more; maybe just account for some time with a reference to small talk, or even silence like, one of them - Molly or Tim - could be uncomfortable with lapses in conversation while the other one is fine. You could reveal some more about Molly through her thoughts. Though too much of *that* can work against you, too...

The escalation of Justin and Hope's verbal sparring and angry revelations seemed as real as anything I've heard around *our* place. :-P

Screaming Buffalo said...

I'm really sorry for this gap in posting again.

I have a good excuse though.

So the first time i got the internet, i went to check my email. i had lots of spam, so i was clearing it out. in my spam folder, there were a couple of things i wasn't sure about, so i opened them. to make a long story short, my computer got about five viruses and it's an adventure worthy of Bush going on the campaign trail in congress elections to get on the internet.

so i'll try and make it back some time soon...after the viruses go away

wendela said...

Hope the viruses are gone and you will return!