Bad dad – Flash Fiction writing challenge


I decided to take the point of view of the child in this piece, for http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/06/16/19188/ flash fiction challenge. Again it’s slightly over 1000 words, but close enough.  Please comment below and let me know your thoughts.

***

David was thinking about something he’d learnt at school today. Eddiepuss or something, he couldn’t quite remember, but he knew the name was funny, he and his friends laughed about it until the teacher sent David into the hall. He continued to laugh though; she couldn’t stop him, hall or no hall, and it was a funny name after all.

Something about a boy who wanted to “sex” with his mum and kill his dad! David and his friends had adopted the name as a form of insult, laden with affection all day. That teacher Mrs Birch has always been weird; sex your mum and kill your dad, so stupid David thought. David’s dad told him once that teachers don’t know anything, David definitely agreed today.

David regarded his mum with quiet disdain the entire car journey here. She’s so boring and always making him go to bed before nine o’clock, which is so unfair; Mitchel gets to go to bed at ten and he’s three months younger than David!

David wishes his mum was gone and he could spend more time with his dad. That would be much better, David’s dad was always fun. He let David stay up till midnight once, they sat up and watched this film; it had these guys with guns and stuff. Oh and there was this girl, and she took her top off! It was amazing! Mitchel was so jealous, he said he wished he could have David’s dad, but he can’t because he’s David’s. David’s mum was so angry with David’s dad when he told her; she’s so boring. David’s dad said to keep it a secret from her next time and David planned to.

David and his mum got out of the car, she tried to hold his hand, but David wasn’t having any of that. David pulled his hand away roughly.

“Get off mum!” David glared at her, stomping forwards, keeping three steps ahead.

 ***

David was so excited; he couldn’t wait to see his dad. David’s mum never let him see his dad; totally unfair he thought. He sees his mum everyday, why can’t he see his dad everyday too? She’s so selfish.

David’s mum said his dad was like those men in the film with the guns. They were so cool though, but his mum made it sound like they were bad. She doesn’t know anything; she didn’t even watch the film! David’s dad listened when he told him stuff; one time he let David have some of his special drink too! It tasted yucky, but David’s dad told him it gives you special powers! So cool! David’s mum just said his dad was being silly and made him go to bed. David didn’t get to see his dad for ages after that. So unfair, David hates his mum. It’s okay though because, Mitchel said his dad has some of the special drink hidden under the stairs in his house, they’re planning to sneak it to school next week and try it out. That’ll teach his mum to be boring.

David was waiting for his mum impatiently, picking bits of paper off the notice board. She kept giving him angry looks; David hates it when she does that. Mitchel said he told his mum to shit off! David is so going to do that if his mum keeps looking at him that way. She walks over to David briskly, heels click clacking on the hard floor the colour of pale sick and took hold of David’s wrist firmly, pulling him after her towards the big blue doors. It hurt David’s wrist as her ruby red nails dug sharply into his skin; David’s dad told him to never let anyone hurt him no matter what.

“Shit off mum!” David barked, kicking her leg with a grunt of effort. David’s mum winced and looked furious, but loosened her grip on David’s wrist; there was a red mark on her leg where he’d kicked her. Serves her right thought David smugly.

David and his mum walked through the doors and David spotted his dad. David squirmed free of his mum’s firm grip, instantly sprinting over to his dad, feet slapping on the floor, people turned to look but David didn’t care.

“Dad!” David yelled excitedly, he saw his dad’s face light up; but someone grabbed him before he could give his dad a hug. His mum caught up to him, forcing him to sit in the blue plastic chair next to her. She never lets David hug him; David plans to kick her again when he gets the chance.

“Dad, you have to hear about this stupid thing Mrs Birch said today!” David babbled about it almost bouncing on the seat. His dad had such a wide smile on his face, but he looked sad as well, and had dark patches under his grey eyes. David’s smile faded away into a look of concern.

“What’s wrong dad? Are you sick?” David’s voice cracked a little.

David’s dad just smiled, but it only seemed to touch his lips. He reassured David he was fine, just been really busy on his new project and is tired. David’s dad always had new projects, but he never told David about them, he wanted to know so badly. One day he was going to have projects too, just like his dad.

David’s mum and dad talked for a while. David was picking at the edge of the table; some of the plastic was coming away. It was so boring when his mum and dad argued; David knew from experience this could take a while. David collected the bits of plastic he’d picked off the table and smiled to himself as he sneaked them into his mum’s pocket. This was a fun new game.

***

Before he knew it, it was time to go. It was never long enough though. David’s mum could have let him stay longer but she never did; so unfair. David felt his eyes watering but didn’t want his dad to see him cry so he kept wiping his eyes with his sleeve. David’s dad said crying was only for girls and he wasn’t a girl, he wanted to be a man like his dad.

David’s mum dragged him back towards the blue doors again, but he never took his eyes off his dad the whole way; he couldn’t help it, tears fell and David felt like he let his dad down by not being a man like him. It’s his mum’s fault, David thought, if he got to live with his dad he wouldn’t ever cry.

The blue doors clacked shut with a note of finality. David’s throat felt funny; like achy and choked or something. David stomped back to the car in front of his mum, he wasn’t going to let her see him cry that’s for sure.  David got into the car arms folded across his chest, glaring out the passenger window, his mum told him to put his seat belt on.

“No!” David spat, “Dad never made me wear one!”

David’s mum said he wasn’t here now, she was and that what she says goes.

“I hate you, I wish I lived with dad and you were in there!” Tears ran down David’s flushed cheeks, his mum didn’t say anything; she just pulled the seatbelt over him and slotted it in with a clunk. She had tears in her eyes too; David’s dad always said she was weak and stupid, crying all the time.

“When can we see dad again?” David asked voice trembling with hope.

David’s mum said they weren’t going to see him for a long time, that dad said it would be for the best. David didn’t believe her though, his dad told him once that mum lies about stuff and not to trust her.

David sat in sullen silence, as the car pulled out of the car park, staring out the window now speckled with rain; the sky saturated with grey clouds almost merging with the hulking grey building of the prison, everything was grey.

5 comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this story, it was interesting to see it told from a child’s point of view. Makes me wonder when, if ever, David will come to realise that his dad isn’t all he appears. I also found it interesting how your tale deviates a little from the ‘bad parenting’ vibe that I’ve felt in the rest of the stories; in this case, your protagonist isn’t aware of his dad’s misgivings, and idolises him rather than hates him, which makes for a unique feel.

    1. @Mr Urban Spaceman – Thank you. That’s what I was going for. I thought most people would depict a selfish, abusive father; giving him some sort of bad history to justify his behaviour. I feel the real negative effects are best seen through the eyes of someone unaware of the situation. When if ever indeed! I guess that story would come much later, maybe I’ll write follow up. I felt really bad for the mother as I was writing it myself as David is ignorant to the way he’s being effected we can see it through her eyes and she’s helpless to stop it. Also I wanted to add the twist of the father trying doing the right thing by stopping them from visiting, but because of his past actions and influence over his son David see’s it as his mother’s attempt to punish him.

      1. I thought it worked really well. The way you’ve almost demonised the mother in David’s eyes makes a sharp contrast for the audience; she becomes sympathetic because we know that she’s actually doing her best to raise her son under difficult circumstances, which gives the story an almost tragic feel to it. Thanks for the very unique perspective!

  2. Eddiepuss. Brilliant.

    Can I offer some constructive criticism? It reads choppy, which would work for the scene, but I can’t tell how old the kid is supposed to be. He sounds too young to be learning about Oedipus complex in school, (I could be wrong. I haven’t been in grade school in a long, long time) If/when you revisit this piece, you may want to spend a sentence or two on defining the kid’s age. You don’t have to come out and say “My name is David and I’m ten years old”, just make it a bit more clear.

    Like the other comments, I love the innocent devotion to the father. It comes across as organic, not forced, which I think is the most difficult thing to capture for an adult to write in to his child protagonist. At least, for me it’s challenging. Very, very well done.

    1. Yes I agree the the topic is not age appropriate, I see David as around 7 or 8; let’s put it down to the fact the teacher was explaining things she shouldn’t.

      Thank you for your feedback. I actually found it rather easy to inhabit the child’s blinkered, innocent thinking, which is odd considering my cynical and sceptical disposition.

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