Today's fest is hosted by the Alliterative Allomorph and our fun, fun theme is internal conflict!
This piece is from my second book in progress, so it's basically a cleaned-up rough draft. (In revision, I need to thin out some figures of speech, or so my CPs say.)
I don't think this needs much explanation; it's the second scene in the first chapter. My MC is 17-yo Dani, an arty New Yorker who lost her British dad in a car crash two years prior; her widowed mother is an MFA student. Poppa is her maternal grandfather, Theo, her boyfriend.
My hands start shaking so bad I can barely hold the paper scrap where I scrawled the hospital’s number. For all I know, Poppa will be dead in minutes if they don’t operate. But without Mum’s approval, they legally can’t.
I cannot believe my mother would leave Theo and me alone in the condo. She’s usually checking on us every ten minutes like clockwork, bugging us with incessant questions or roping Theo into chores like opening jars or pulling things off high shelves. She seems to have this bizarre fear that Theo and I are going to rip each other’s clothes off at any moment and make me the next teen pregnancy statistic. Yeah, right. That’s as likely as my being drafted as a linebacker for the Giants.
Mum can’t have gone far—probably just to the little market on Columbus to pick up dinner ingredients. Surely she’ll be back any minute. I should call the front desk, ask the guard if he saw her go out. Theo could hold down the fort while I look for her.
Gosh, I can just picture her standing in line at Rico’s, looking for all the world like a bohemian free spirit in her snug t-shirt, paint-spattered jeans, strappy sandals, gobs of gypsy jewelry, hair in long, loose layers. She’ll glance up from her basket of Thai basil and coconut milk, see my face and just know. Know that I’m about to hurl a bomb at her. Know that trouble’s found her yet again, like it always does.
How can I tell her? How? Especially after what happened to Dad.
I just wish I could make this all go away. In days we’re headed to Paris to spend golden mornings on the banks of the Seine, painting side-by-side on matching easels. The hot afternoons we’ll while away in the Louvre, communing with the masters. We’ll finally meet some of my mother’s long-lost French relatives. We’ll wear goofy hats and stuff ourselves with pastries and sleep well for a change. We’ll have time to just hang out, have fun, really talk. Create and dream. Pray and meditate. Rest. Finally heal. Six months we’ve been planning this, down to the daily café stops, a different one each day.
I see the hospital number in my hand again, and my mouth goes as dry as a day-old croissant. Poppa could have massive bleeding on the brain right now. I know exactly what that means—pressure building like floodwaters behind a levee, flattening everything. Cells, synapses, ganglion crushed, dying, dead.
My grand Paris dream starts to pull away, a face in a taxi window. Off toward Midtown. Off to find a more worthy recipient. Then a homeless drug addict steps in front of my metaphorical taxi and it stops. The coked-up guy stands there, fists on hips, chin jutted out, dark eyes flashing, as if daring the driver to flatten him in his frayed cords and Nietzsche T-shirt. He winks at me and scratches his head, which is suddenly bald. In a blink, the stoner philosopher I only vaguely remember transforms into the flannel-shirted craftsman I’ve come to love: Mum’s little brother, my uncle formerly known as DJ.
Of course. If there’s anyone who can make the Poppa problem disappear, it’s the prodigal son.
I carry the phone to my bedroom, hit #4 on speed dial.