Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day Three-Seventy-Four: How fun it is to be a father

We played tag today. A long, brutal game of tag.

Grayson prodded me out of sleep with his light touch and sunny disposition. He'd already prepared breakfast, a meal of cooked chicken eggs on toast. I remember packing the eggs; I don't remember packing the bread. I also don't know how he cooked either of them, as the fire was out when he handed me my plate.

"It's a beautiful day," he said, staring up at the treetops. "Look at all the white. It's my favourite colour."

I nibbled on the toast. It was well-browned, if a bit dry. "Robert once told me that white isn't a colour. It's a hue."

"It's not a hue. If it's anything other than a colour, it's a shade. Which Robert is this? The uncle or the librarian?"

"Librarian." I chortled, trying to ignore my kid's brains. He sounds smarter than I do most of the time. "Your uncle wouldn't know colours or hues or shades or whatever if they ganged up 'n bonked 'im on the head."

"You mean he wouldn't have known."

Crumbs down my shirt. "Huh?"

"You missed a word."

I thought about it. My stomach sank. "Oh. Yeah."

Gobbling down his eggs with grace and speed, Grayson hopped to his feet. "It's time for a game. Let's play tag. I'm it."

I sputtered on my toast, coughing up a big chunk of wet brown. Grayson took the opportunity to reach over and tap me on the head.

"There. Now you're it. Come catch me!" He danced off into the trees, laughing and skipping.

"Grayson!" I stumbled to my feet, pulling on my jacket and groping for my boots. I tripped trying to put one on and landed face-first in a fire pit full of ashes. "Pffffttt! Grayson! Wait, wait, it's dangerous!"

Too late. He was gone. I must admit that my first inclination was to slink back to Pubton and leave him here - but my fatherly instincts quashed that terrible thought, and I dashed into the forest to track him down.

The dash slowed to a jog.

The jog petered out to a walk.

The walk eventually became a crawl.

The crawl remained steady.

I must have searched the forest for Grayson for at least three hours. It wasn't so much a game of tag as it was hide-and-go-seek: there was no sign of the boy, save the first few footsteps he took out of our little camp. I suspect, having seen what he can do, that he flew up into the trees… but even when I looked up, all I saw was soft blankets of white, ragged branches, and the sky. 

For the first half hour I called for Grayson, imploring him to come out, to at least give me a chance to catch him. For the second half hour I gave up on verbal pleas and focused on scanning the tree line. When that proved unsuccessful, I spent the second hour walking, walking, walking, not sure what I was doing or where I was going. The third wasn't much different.

Except for the anger. Oh, there was anger.

It came naturally to me. I fear my son, but I'm also angry at him. He's jerking me around too much, knowing things he shouldn't know, saying things he can't be allowed to say. Asking if I like other women? Telling Pagan he might die? Reminding me of Robert's death, still so fresh and so raw that I want to scream? Where the hell does he get off, sayin' shit like that? When did Libby and I raise him to be such a little bastard? I can see her giving him a bad attitude, but me!?

I raged. I stormed. (Slowly.) Eventually, coming in a huge, lopsided circle, tempted many times by visions of myself strangling Grayson for running off, I returned to the camp. And there he was, sitting by a lit fire, you in his hands, diary. He was reading you.

"You've been through a lot," he said, motioning for me to join him. "This is fascinating."

I clenched my fists. Red blurred my vision. I wanted so dearly to stalk across the camp and cuff him one in the face. I didn't care if he was my son, he'd gone too far this time.

"Your hands must be cold."

Some of the tension breaking, I looked down. My mitts, my comfortable, warm, fuzzy mitts, made by my mother as a special Allofusmas present to me (she kept it a secret from everyone else), were on fire. The wool charred and flaked, and smoke rose from my fingertips.

I yelled, shaking what was left of them off of me. The ashes scattered, sizzling in the snow.

"THAT'S NOT FUNNY!" I yelled, back away from Grayson. "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?! IT'S NOT FUNNY, KID!"

Grayson beamed pleasantly, turning to the next page. "Who ever said I did it?"

He's asleep. I have you back, diary. If I have any say, he'll never touch you again. Who knows what he'd do.

I want to go home. And we will, tomorrow. Just one more night.


Dragomir the Pissed


  1. Dragomir the Pyromancer...has a nice ring to it!

  2. This is what happens when you don't beat your kids.

    Swearing at your parents? That's a paddlin. Not cleaning your room? That's a paddlin. Smiting the wicked? That's a paladin. Complaining about paddlins? Ooh you better believe that's a paddlin.

    1. I think I need to work 'The Paddlin' Paladins' into the story as some kind of sports team.