a part of us

By theBAC

At six forty-five Brett finally gave in and got out of bed. Today he had the day off and could finally try and get some sleep, but his body was set to the unlucky schedule of getting up everyday at five thirty. The last hour and a half were a struggle to attain. Usually Brett would stretch a bit, then walk downstairs to start his coffee, and quickly jump in the shower. The timing of his showers was normally rather good and he would finish and dry off as the coffee started to pour. Today, however, he broke this routine. He figured he would lounge around and maybe take a bath around noon. Now Brett was an unfortunate soul known as a “mouth-breather”, he can not comfortably sleep breathing only through his nose, therefore he sleeps with his mouth open. The major downside to this being that he always awakens with a dry, dust-filled mouth. And nothing cures this better, or so Brett believes, than a cool Mountain Dew from the fridge. So on his way he went. Brett walked towards his bedroom door, passing his sleeping wife and into the hallway and towards the stairs.
He never made it to the kitchen.

A low illumination was coming from his nine year old son’s room. Brandon was his name. Brett lightly taps on his son’s door and slowly begins to open it, “Brandon,” in a hushed tone, “are you awake buddy?” Looking into his room Brett sees his son sitting at his desk reading. Brandon turns around and looks worriedly at his father, his eyes sagging and confused. Seeing this look on his son’s face Brett automatically knew something was wrong. “What’s wrong, pardner?” Brett asked only seconds before seeing what it was his son was reading. In Brandon’s hands was a small black book entitled ‘til the streetlights came on. A book written fifteen years before Brandon was born, a collection of poetry and prose which his father self-published and was the author of.
“Daddy,” Still looking at his father, on the verge of tears, “are you okay?”
“Yes, of course,” Brett tells his son as he crosses over to sit upon his son’s bed. “Where did you find that?”
“It was in your study. Are you mad that I have it?”
“No, no, of course not, it’s okay - but...” Brett looks at his son and smiles sweetly at him. “Those things I wrote are part of my past and they don’t matter now. I’m not mad that you are interested in my life and what I’ve done, I am rather proud of that, except that the things in that book perhaps aren’t the best things for you to be reading right now.”
“Why not?” Brandon asked his father.
Brett stared at his son, so proud that he is interested in books and knowledge, plus very touched that his son chose, out of the hundreds of books in his study, a book that he wrote. Twenty-four years ago when Brett was writing and editing his book for publication he did in fact stop and think about this time. What he would say if he was ever questioned by his kids about it? What could he say? How could he tell them about the pain their father felt, about the pain that will come to them someday? The pain of living.
“You see Bran, there comes a time in your life when everything seems to be so confusing and strange that you get lost and that’s where I was when I wrote those poems. There are so many things in the world that you don’t know about because you have yet to experience them. And when you start to do so you feel so small and out of place, because you feel like you have been sheltered for all of your life. Which, in a way, you have. Just like all kids have, and it is the parents fault. It was my parents fault that I felt the way I did. But I don’t regret that fact.”
“Why would it be your parents fault?” asked Brandon, not truly understanding.
“Kids are raised to believe that their parents know everything and that their parents will never tell them wrong, and for the most part, that is true. However, parents don’t always tell there kids about everything that happens.”
“Why wouldn’t they?”
“To protect their child. It is done from a honest place, but in the long run it just makes everything worse. You see when you start to change, puberty and all of that,” Brett sees his son blushing with embarrassment, “you will start to become more independent than ever before. You won’t want my help even if you really need it. You will begin to resent things I did for you years ago, and you will hate me for not telling you about all of the pain that this world will cause.”
“Pain?” Brandon asks, his lower lip quivering. “What kind of pain?”
Brett sighs deeply and loudly. He knew this day would come when his son would ask questions that Brett himself, was not yet ready to answer. “The pain of being alone in this world. Your mother and I love you and we’ll do all we can for you, but when it is boiled down to the essentials, we will not always be there for you, no matter how hard we try. But that is both good and bad. The more we help you the more we can prevent you from growing. It’s like a tourniquet, it helps prevent the flow of blood and can help sustain life, but if it is left on too long that part of the body will slowly die. Do you understand that analogy?”
“An analogy is when you use something in relation to another to help the person understand. Do you see?” Brandon nods his head.
“You and mommy want to help me, but not too much, ‘cause I will not grow.”
“But why would you write all of those bad things and naughty language?”
“I was angry, I was mad and I was lost. Everything in my life at that time felt so fake and useless. My parents taught me about living and about love and everything, but they never told me that it is not always sunshine and rainbows, there are cloudy days and rain too. My parents, like me, went through what I went through, and they felt in order to raise me well they had to keep away all of the knowledge of the bad things in life. So when those bad things began to happen I did not know how to handle them myself. And I was never comfortable enough with my parents to ask them questions, unlike you. Do you remember a few years ago when we sat down and I talked with you for a long time? Remember?”
“Yeah I remember, Dad. Why?”
“What did I tell you about questions?”
Brandon thinks back real hard, “If I am old enough to ask them I am old enough to know the answers.”
“Precisely.” Brett takes a moment and looks his son over, waiting for him to ask a question. Nothing is asked. “Brandon? Do you have anything you would like to ask me?”
Looking up at his father, still very emotional and confused, “Dad,” a tear slowly falling down his cheek, “will everything always be okay?”
Brett’s heart begins to pump harder and his throat tightens, as his eyes water. What should he say? Tell his son the truth and end his childhood? Or lie to his son and eventually have Brandon feel the way towards him, that he felt towards his own parents?
“Brandon,” tears streaming down his cheeks, “I won’t lie to you. It will not always be okay. At times you will hurt, physically and emotionally, you will feel alone and you will hate yourself and others and wish things would be totally different.” Wiping the tears from his son’s eyes, and then from his own. “But that is no reason -- no reason at all, to ever give up. Someday you will start to see the darkness and hatred that flows through this world like blood in yours and my veins. You will want to retreat from everything and everyone but that will only make it worse. In this world people hurt each other, step on one another and kill, for trivial things like money and fame. Neither of which are truly real. There are many real things in this world though and it is those that make life worth living.”
“Like what?”
“Friendship, trust, respect, loyalty... girls,” Brett and Brandon both giggle a bit, “...family.” Brett and Brandon connect eyes and smile, tears still slowly falling. “And above all love.”
Brandon grabs his father around the shoulders and hugs him harder than he ever has before. “I love you dad.” The words almost completely inaudible because of Brandon crying so hard he is choking. Brett hears him perfectly.
“I love you too son.” Brett squeezing his son and feeling the most beautiful thing in this world and knowing that he has finally grown out of the pain that he felt for years, and now feels more content to help his son through his own fight. “Your mother loves you too and I hope you know that we will always be there to answer any questions you have.”
“I love momma, too. I love you both so much, dad. I never want you to leave me, and I promise I will never hate you.”
Brett could still feel the constriction in his own chest and in his son’s, his son’s tears soaking through his shirt and moistening his shoulder.
“You are no longer a child Brandon. You are now gradually becoming a man. This will be a hard thing to cope with, and some day you may in fact say that you hate me. It is all part of growing up. But we both know, whether or not that we ever say it to each other again, we love one another and nothing is ever gonna change that.”
“I feel what you mean about the world, dad. I am so happy now, I know that no matter what ever occurs, that we will have this moment until the day we are both gone.” They hug tighter and can feel each other’s heart beating at the same rhythm. After a few moments Brandon slowly retreats from his father. Brett feels his son pull away.
“What’s wrong?” Brett asks.
“I wish momma were here.” Brandon says as he wipes a tear from his father’s eye.
“I am” Christin says standing in the doorway, hear eyes drenched in tears, “I always have been.” She runs across the room and grabs her two loves in this world and they all hug and for once they are totally free and happy as a family. Their love and passion for another was stronger in this single moment than it has since the day Brandon was born. Brett and Christin knew their child was special and they felt they did a good job bringing him up. Brandon knew his parents loved him more than anything. Not that he ever questioned it, but it was nice to have a reminder now and then.
The three sat there, hugging, and crying all morning, the sun rose and a new day began. And a new day began. A new day began. It was true, Brandon’s childhood ended this day and ahead of him lay more battles to fight, and inevitably win.
This never again happened with his parents. They told each other they loved each other all the time and Brandon always felt it. Yet they never were as close as they were then. And this never once saddened Brandon. For he knew that no matter what he comes across in his life he can always revisit that moment in his heart.

That night as the sun set, Brandon sat in his room and wrote his first poem. “A Part Of Us.” He was not scared anymore. He was never scared again. He loved his parents and they loved him. What else could he ask for? Why should he fear anything when he had the most important thing in the world?


Unauthorized Copying Is Prohibited. Ask the author first.
Copyright 2001 Brett Alan Coker
Published on Tuesday, July 26, 2005.     Filed under: "Short Story"
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  • Adam On Sunday, June 8, 2008, Adam (250)By person wrote:

    This is such an amazing thing to write down. To share with us and to keep so you can always remember what you feel and what you felt at that time. You wrote so much here, you told your son, and you told all of us what life has coming for us. To any one that reads this all the way through they will know that there is more then now to life. This was so nice to read - Love, not hate. Hugs, not stabbings. Families, not loneliness. Support, not letting society raise your kids. This work really hit me hard it is so personal to you, but I think most people that read it will feel every bit of it - I know I did! Scholar

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