November usually finds me traveling, for some reason. Once when I was living back west I came out to Toronto and another time Montreal. Last year my computer took a dive a couple days into the month. This year all the turbulaton seems to be behind me. No excuses and nothing holding me back. Now....I just need a good idea. :)
In my last post I had written about my, then, current leads on stories. Out of those I pick...none. In usual fashion what bubbles to the top is what's on top on the day your looking at the top, to put it not so succinct.
I plan on breaking it into chapters/short stories. Mostly because the first few bits are scenes from a character being born into his future life.
I plan on trying to post the days work on here, read if you dare, I'm sure the writing will be fast and flustered and, sometimes, convoluted. But, I think, it will help me to keep on track.
Here's day one -
This will be good, Danny’s father thought. Roy was walking his son up the side of a mountain towards a small lake, featuring a small sandy beach with a fire pit. Over the years, the family had been back to this location, over and over. This, though, was the first time it was just father and son.
It was late in the year for a camping trip but nature was running its course and Roy didn’t think he had another month to wait. Already he could see the hair on his boy’s arms and legs, thicker than usual. His son was moody and irritable. Surely this would be the cycle to break the innocence.
“This seems harder than usual.” Danny laughed, from behind him. “I’m winded and I’m not sure why.”
“Altitude change?” It was a weak offering. He should be telling the boy the truth, your body’s changing. Instead, Roy put the talk off till later. “Also, it’s colder than normal. Usually we’re climbing this thing in July.”
Perspective was a strange thing, Roy pondered. Years ago, when his own dad was on the verge of telling him the same news he would soon be imparting upon his own son, he could remember the time of innocence that he almost seemed to be swimming in. The world was thick with it, as if you couldn’t see your hand before your face. Many times, Roy had gone over this conversation in his head. How, when, why, where what, the five W’s ran though his head on repeat until he thought the answer was clear. Now, on this hillside, with his son, huffing and puffing, behind him, the clear answer had gotten murky, somehow. It could wait. No, it couldn’t. Roy hadn’t even packed the tent, for the overnight expedition. His way of guaranteeing that ‘the talk’ was going to happen. The truth, he knew, was that it ‘had’ to happen. Certain events were about to transpire that would irrevocably alter the perception and physicality of his sons life and he owed Danny the truth about what these impending fortunes meant in his life. To place himself in those shoes he wondered how he would have handled things should his father have not told him anything.
Confusion. Fear. Hate. He stopped. If those were the first three things he could think of then there was no turning back, at all.
Someone had once told Roy, “We’re all dealt our own hand of cards and we can only do with them what we can. Sometimes the villain in the story is just the hero with bad decision making skills.” Did he want to be the hero or the guy who couldn’t figure things out?
“Dad?” The small voice, from behind him.
He stopped. “Yes, son.”
“It’s just…I’ve been wondering why we’re doing this alone?”
“Why the rest of the family isn’t here?”
“I guess, this time, it’s just between us guys.”
“Allie and Mom are doing something else?”
Funny how, sometimes, when you make a plan, you don’t plan for the flipside. “Nope, just us, this time. I think, one day, they’ll do something, on their own. This way, we won’t be jealous. Right?” He smiled as if things were settled and the conversation could move on to other subjects.
“I guess.” The son took the cue and returning the favor, began hiking again.
Once at the top, the lake, steaming, laid out before them, Roy was left to his wits.
“I always like how the lake is warm.” Danny said, taking off a shoe and dipping his foot in the water. “Can I?”
“Of course.” Roy replied, thinking that someday they should actually check the water, upon arrival, in case the volcanic fissure or whatever it was, that kept the lake steaming, had opened enough to turn his kid into stewed meat instead of the prodigy he, now, was.
Danny slipped into the misty water and submerged his head.
The lack of screaming and flayed skin told Roy everything was okay. He turned to the rocks that made up part of their table. The board they had laid on top, a few months previous, was gone. It’s wasn’t until then that the idea the maybe others used this spot as well. “This is our land.” He muttered, to nobody. A quick survey of the surrounding located the board. It was currently propped up beside a boulder, or erratic as they were called in glacier country, and possibly had been used as a diving board. He took his shoes off and before walking over to get the diving board slash picnic table noticed that the hair on his feet was already long and healthy. “Danny!” He cried.
A head peaked out of the water.
“C’mon up here, Danny. Help me with this.”
It took a couple moments for Danny to give up the comfort of the thermal heated lake. Roy, meanwhile, kept his gaze on the board at hand. It’s now, it has to be now, he thought, over and over.
Danny walked up beside him. Roy, unable to look Danny in the eyes, glanced at his feet and saw the same thing, the long hair, the pronounced lengthening of the foot and a slight darkening to the skin. How he could not notice, Roy asked himself, he wasn’t sure. Could it be that, at Danny’s age, a changing body was the normal thing and so, in fact, there was nothing to notice? Roy wasn’t sure but he could only speak as a parent and the last few months there had been some pretty wild swings in Danny’s development. A sudden change in musculature. Hair developing and receding at fairly rapid rates. All things, one would think one would notice. Unless that ‘one’ was a young boy going through puberty.
Again, Roy was brought back to his own experience. Nothing seemed unusual, beforehand. Perhaps the other half of the equation was the fact that nobody in his family seemed shock by the, dramatically, wild swings of development. It hadn’t been until his father sat him down, next to the same spot they now found themselves, that Roy found out the truth and learned what was what. But, what was what? He wondered. It wasn’t like he found out he had a deadly disease or anything. Life went on, after the fact. It was just…changed, ever so much.
“Danny.” He began, still looking at the long piece of wood. “Our lives are strange.”
“I know, it sounds weird. I remember when my dad brought me out here, thirty years ago, to tell me the same thing. This place…” he looked around. “it looked, pretty much, the same.” He took a few steps toward the plank of wood. “Help me with this first.”
They each took an end and walked it over to the two boulders that held it up. Once set Roy took his folding chair from the side of his back pack and Danny did the same. They sat across from each other. Roy could tell Danny was over his head, he was acting like an adult in the same way characters in horror movies acted, like it was uncomfortable and unnatural.
“I…” Roy began.
“Can we eat? I’m starving.” Danny interrupted.
“In a second. There’s a lot we have to go over and…” he looked at the sky “…not a lot of time to go over it.” Regrets about the late start that morning and wasting all that silent time heading up the hill. “You know how you’re bodies been changing?”
“Oh, God, dad, if you brought me up here to have the puberty talk, I’m over it. Remember when you had to sign that waiver for my health course? They’ve done this for you already.”
Roy tried to stifle some of the humour. “I wish they had Danny. This is hard.” Reaching across the board he took Danny’s hand in his own. “I think a lot of kids out there have a secret with that they were born into a ‘different’ family. That what they thought was just going to be a regular life, might not be. They make movies out of it, books. All sorts of things come out of that, one, simple, idea.” He looked up at the darkening sky. “When I was a kid I had a vision of Luke Skywalker walking into my bedroom at night. Don’t laugh.” Roy could see his son’s embarrassment. “He would sit on the edge of my bed and tell me we were secretly related. I guess it’s the same as a girl wishing she came from a royal family, or something. That she’s really a princess.”
“I’m not a princess, am I?” Danny had a serious look upon his face. Roy recognized it, at once, and knew Danny wasn’t playing, he truly was worried that he might be told that, indeed, he was royal.
“It’s not that simple, buddy.” He began but then had to intervene after Danny’s face took on an ashen hue. “You’re not a princess.” He answered quickly, after seeing how the lack of a quick rebuttal alarmed his son. “But you’re not just the run of the mill kid either and that’s a good thing. I was your age when my father brought me up here and I was going through the same thing you’ve been going through.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we’ve bought you three changes of clothing in three months, for one thing. Your body is changing and even with that health course you must know, on some level, that you’re not changing at the same rate that your buddies at school are changing. Don’t you?”
“I know that Coach Persons makes us all shower and that I’m….” Danny stopped.
“Different? Hairier? More muscular? Bigger?”
“Yeah.” Danny was looking at the worn wooden top of the makeshift table. “Coach just said that I was arriving ahead of schedule and that the other guys would catch up soon.”
“Your coach is partially right. Some of that is natural. Some of it isn’t.” He paused. “I love you, buddy, and I want you to know that we’re all here for you and will always be. I’m just going to pull the band aide off, like my father did, when we had this talk. You’re a werewolf. Yes, they’re real and no, it’s not curable.” He recognized that his son’s face had a less alarmed look than when he’d been worried about being a princess.
“I thought so.” Danny said.
Air was taken from Roy’s lungs. “What?”
“I thought so.” Danny repeated. “I was running through the wood the other night, in my dream, but I didn’t have two legs, I had four, and I could smell everything.”
“This was a couple night ago?”
“It’s been an ongoing dream. Like watching a tv show repeat or something.”
“Do you have any other dreams, like that?”
“Do you have any other dreams, like that?”
“No, just the one. We’re on a hillside and there’s a mine or cave. A light’s flickering inside, like a lantern or something, and a man’s standing at the opening. He’s looking up at me and then there’s a lot of rustling from the bushes, all around, and then we’re running.”
“Who’s we?” Roy wondered aloud.
“I don’t know, I just know there’s four of us.”
"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
Allan K. Chalmers