Like I promised… here is an extremely rough draft of the first part of my new story. Feel free to tear it apart and fix things: grammar, logic, etc. Or, if you have any suggestions for the direction of the story, feel free to comment. Unlike at a concert, the more feedback (on my story), the better (ha sound engineer joke). Here is a link if you would like to make comments on the document itself: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VjFAofQUO3GbcHpUOXBeE3FrTAsTv7oDZXNgNxrUS9M/edit?usp=sharing
There are Stars in the Southern Sky
I don’t remember any unsatisfactory events that took place while I was in grade school. However, the time during high school, when my father had disappeared, made up for what I was missing. I bounced around from family member to family member, each not willing to take me in for more than three weeks. I eventually got a job and saved up enough money to live on my own–a big achievement for me. My family wasn’t wealthy. We barely made enough to be able to save even a dime, so we were never really taught how to save. We were taught how to work hard. I learned that from my father. He always said that you are only a real man if you are a hardworking man. I wonder if that’s why he disappeared. Maybe he felt like he was letting me, the only thing he had left, down.
My father had kind, gentle eyes that paired perfectly with his smile. His dingy-white, crisscrossed teeth parted the lips of those around him. He was the kind of guy that you always wanted to be around; never once did he did he talk down about another human being. At least when he was around me.
He was a mechanic; it didn’t pay well, but he made the most of it. He was the only person supporting our family at the time. I hardly ever saw him during the day. He always left me in charge of looking after my brother because I didn’t have a mother. I don’t remember what happened to her. She was hardly ever there for us–her family. I only remember what she looks like from a picture: Her light blonde hair was draped over my day old skin; her smile was big and genuine. My father sat next to her with a smile, too. However, his eyes were saying the opposite.
My father told me that she was cheating on him; she had an affair with some other guy and just picked up and left months after I was born. He said the divorce was finalized in record quick time. Everyone around us at the time seemed to buy into that story. I mean, my father was a nice guy, but only because he told a fib or two here and there. I still don’t understand how a mother can leave her own blood-her own children-for something seemingly more important. Maybe she didn’t have a choice. After awhile, my younger brother disappeared too. I don’t know where he ended up. Maybe he ended up in the same place as my mother.
Every once in awhile, people would go up to my father, pointing to an article in our local newspaper, “Oh, you’re so strong.” I thought to myself that yeah, he can lift heavy things. It was weird to see so many strangers come up to him and say this, especially with looks of pity on their faces. I mean, my mother had been gone practically all of my life and my brother left five years after. People didn’t start coming up to him until years after that. Was I missing something?
One memory that hangs around my mind everyday is how my father, my brother, and I used to go stargazing every single night. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing, or hailing; we were out there. My father would drive my brother and I out to the county’s cornfield in his prized 1977 teal-blue flatbed Ford–the same one I drive now. He would open the back and spread out one of mother’s afghans over the bed of the truck. He told me that she crocheted that blanket every single day, starting the day she found out she was pregnant with me. She worked on it for nine whole months. I still carry this blanket with me in my truck. Every night we would get lost in the stars. Each twinkle of the bright white, innocent stars made it seem like they were waving. While my brother and I were distracted by the beauty of the sky, and the sweet, subtle songs of the crickets, my father was writing things in his journal. Sometimes he drew charts and sometimes he wrote lists. Other times, he drew pushpins on several different maps. He did this for I don’t know how long. I wonder where he left his notebook.
A beam of sunlight made its way through my curtain. The fabric gripped tightly to the rings that hung loosely on the splintered curtain rod. I sat up slowly, thinking that the slower I move, the less my head would be pounding. After a quick glance around the room, I found my good friends, Jack Daniels, Jimmy Beam, and Mr. Weiser, still sitting on the table, sad and empty–a reflection of my night, well, life. The other room housed a record player, where a broken record was still spinning from last night. It was one of my father’s favorite records: The Animals. “House of the Rising Sun” was the track it was stuck on. Over and over, it repeated, “to wear that ball and chain.” The record was my father’s; his name is written on the sleeve. He also kept a half of a sheet of paper tucked into the lyric sleeve that he marked tallies on. The sheet was titled “Times Listened To.” Every time he listened to this record, he drew a tiny line, two centimeters long, in a dark red ink. He did this for all of his records, however, all of the other sheets were in pencil. This sheet in particular had one hundred fifty six tallies marked down, all in groups of thirteens. That was more than any of his other favorite records combined.