I'm feeling a little different today. It's the last day of work before the long Christmas vacation... So, I'm pretty stoked. Just waiting for students to turn in their final papers... Not stoked about that!
But the holidays are often times we reflect on family, and sometimes, loved ones we have lost. That's why I'm posting the short fictional work below called "Into The Fire." It's a piece I wrote in the summer as an exercise. The challenge was to use the concept of "30" in the story and limit the work to 300 words. So, this is what I wrote.
Now, it's a departure from the fantasy fiction I have been writing for the Mall Demons books. If you're used to that, this will be a surprise. This is more about the relationship between fathers and sons. Let me know what you think:
By Pedro Ramirez III
This was it. Love Street, where I almost died 30 years ago.
The tears welled. I placed the truck in park.
"Dad, why we stopping?" My son craned over the dashboard. "I don't see the hospital."
I was about his age when it happened. Can't help thinking my son wouldn't be sitting here if they'd left me on the kitchen floor. They wouldn't let him inside the house. He pushed, pulled, powered through them to get to me. I thought he could do anything.
"We're almost there, mijo." Fewer words to control the tears.
"Where are we?" my son asked.
"Daddy used to live here," I told him.
"Where?" He scanned the street.
The neighborhood had changed. The corner store was boarded up. An auto repair shop was occupying another corner lot. A third corner lost was vacant with sun-scorched, yellow grass. It had been vacant back then, too.
"I don't see a house."
"It used to be there." I pointed across him out the passenger window to two squatty, city lots lined by curb cuts and three tired trees.
"There's nothing there," my son said.
"Grandpa's and grandma's house used to be there," I explained, "before it burned down."
"It caught fire?! Were you inside?"
"Yes, mijo. I was." The tears were welling again. "Grandpa carried me out."
"Were you scared?" he asked.
"Yes…Yes, I am."
A tear fell. I wiped before my son saw.
"C'mon, let's go get grandpa," I said.
I took the truck out of park, inching it three long blocks to the hospital. It felt like 30 blocks, 30 years away.
"Grandpa is gonna live with us?"
The rest of them want to leave him. Too heavy a burden. But, I'll be damned if they'll keep me from taking him out.