I read a post where The Write Practice introduced some prompts about Indepence Day. I decided on the second prompt: writing a scene where a character celebrates a holiday or occasion. I figured it would be a good idea to give some insight into Alex Powers, one of the central characters of my short story project.
I don’t do well with holidays, especially the Fourth of July. Dad says it’s just an excuse to be lazy. I find that contradicting as he stands in front of the charcoal grill he’s had for twenty years, roasting hot dogs, chicken, ribs. All the meaty stuff. A couple of his friends surround him, part of the crew from high school, I guess.
I sit on the patio, a cooler in hand. Tyson plays with the neighborhood kids. Brandy chats with Sean and his latest squeeze, some golden Egyptian girl he met online. I see neighbors across the street with their grills. It’s like a friendly neighborhood competition. Who can snag the most guests?
I remember the Fourth of July when I was ten. Dad and Mom were huddled around the grill she bought for him as an anniversary present. They were so lovey-dovey, kissing each other all the time. It kind of made me sick, but in a good day.
That evening, we drove to the park to watch fireworks. For some reason, they weren’t speaking. Dad didn’t have the radio playing. I didn’t think anything of it. I doubt Sean cared, either. When we arrived, we grabbed our lawn chairs and just held onto them. All the best spots were taken. That’s when I heard Mom and Dad speak. They were arguing about something. A lot of things, actually. I wondered what was going on, but Sean, being the slightly older brother, stopped me. He told me to not interrupt them. So I didn’t. Besides, the exploding fireworks muffled whatever conversations transpired.
When we got back, Mom got out the car. Dad stayed in and turned to us. Sean was asleep. I, surprisingly, wasn’t.
“Boys,” he said. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your mother and I have decided to separate for a while.”
I knew what that meant, what that would eventually mean. But it was the fact that Dad apologized first that threw me off. I had never known Dad to apologize for anything he’d ever said or done. That floored me more than anything else.
Dad doesn’t talk it much. I think it brings up bad memories, and that’s saying something about him.