So, Harrison hadn’t been able to write the most beautiful story during school. Big deal. There were too many distractions. But he was confident he could belt it out at home after dinner and before bedtime. Mrs. Carrington said he could do it so he had confidence it was inside him. Of course he couldn’t write it at school. Nothing good ever came out of school for him.
He endured the mocking from the other students as he walked home. But his mind was so focused on what his story was going to be he didn’t pay any attention to the taunts. Not even Clyde’s voice, who always seemed to rise above the din, when he called out “Do you want us to call you Harrison Carrington?” And then proceeded to call him that all the way until Harrison turned to walk up his street alone.
When Harrison arrived home, he went straight to his desk. He took out a piece of paper and laid it flat just like the one he did at school. Then he made sure he had a pencil ready. When all things were in order, he went downstairs and saw his mom fixing dinner.
“Hey Bub,” she always affectionally called him some form of Bubba, “how was school?”
“Good,” he replied and got a snack out of the cupboard.
“Hey, don’t ruin your appetite,” she said and took out the Twinkie he held in his hand and replaced it with an apple. “Do you have any homework?”
“A little,” he replied.
“Well, get on it. You know homework first before dinner.”
He nodded his head and went into the other room to do his math homework.
His dad came home late but that wasn’t unusual. That just meant Harrison had some time to watch a bit of a television show after he finished his homework.
When his dad did walk in, he could tell what kind of night it was going to be by the look on his dad’s face. His dad was a police officer and some days were a bit rough on him. On those nights, he would come in and give Harrison a big hug.
Today must have been a doozy because he not only hugged Harrison, he started crying and wouldn’t let Harrison go. Ever since Harrison could remember, his mom made him watch her favorite Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life. His dad’s hug that night reminded him of that scene when George Bailey hugged his son tightly while crying. Every time he watched that movie after that night he remembered that hug. That desperate clinging to hold onto something pure.
His mom started to ask about her husband’s day but when she saw the two of them she stopped and continued to put dinner on the table quietly.
In later years, Harrison realized his dad didn’t have the temperament to be a cop. He was a good man but too sensitive. At first, whenever he saw anything disturbing he would come home and hold his family a little closer. But Harrison was soon getting too big for that kind of outlet. As his son grew bigger and less responsive, , he reached for another outlet: the bottle.
In a very short amount of time from this night, Harrison’s dad escaped so often into the bottle that he became a distant father. It was as if he withdrew so that if anything bad did happen to his family, it wouldn’t affect him as much. Harrison always felt his dad was preparing for the worst. When in reality, the worst that happened was having an absentee father.
But that night at nine-years old, Harrison didn’t see any of that coming. All he felt was uncomfortable at powerful and tearful embrace of his father.
“Rough day?” Harrison’s mom asked.
His father nodded and released his son. He used his hands to wipe away tears. After a moment, he had his composure again. “It smells good in here, let’s eat.”
The three of them ate dinner while Harrison and his mom made small talk.
After dinner, Harrison went to his desk and stared at the paper. For fifteen minutes he sat at his desk but nothing came to him. He drew a heart and thought of his parents. There was never a doubt that his mom loved him. She was always there and explained things to him. In fact, he knew she would be in later to talk about his dad and would tell him what had happened earlier. He appreciated that.
He just assumed his dad loved him. That’s what dads do. Even though his dad and him didn’t spend much time together. His dad always told him he loved him.
Even at nine-years old, Harrison knew love was a beautiful thing. Somehow that would be what his most beautiful story would be about. Love.
After fifteen minutes though, he got bored and went downstairs to watch television with his folks until bedtime. He would write his story tomorrow.
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