This is actually the start of a short story(possibly novella) I’ve been working on. I think the first scene would stand on its own as a flash piece. The longer piece is written in 1st person, but I decided to rewrite the beginning in 3rd for today’s piece. Definitely think I like 1st person better for this one, though.
He shoved the last bundle of clothes into the saddlebag before closing the flap and didn’t bother to look up. She was still standing in the doorway. He could feel her eyes on him. Knowing what he’d see in her eyes, he couldn’t bring himself to look on it.
“Trace,” she called out, and his shoulders stiffened. “You don’t have to do this.”
He didn’t say anything to that, just making sure everything else was ready. She knew exactly why he had to leave.
His head jerked up, and he finally looked at her. Another day, the anxiety he saw in her eyes, the fading bruise on her cheek, the way she hung back, would have made him want to comfort her. Not today.
“Don’t call him that. Don’t you ever dare call him that again, Mom.”
“He raised you,” she insisted. Her gaze darted away from him, out toward the road, before coming back.
“He humiliated me. He hit me. He-”
“He took care of you.”
He had to check the ground to make sure she hadn’t actually spit the words at his feet.
“He did his best to destroy me. And you, too. That man is not my father.”
“How do you know yours is any better?” she asked.
And there was the truth he had learned at fifteen. The truth she refused to ever talk about again. The truth, that when he spoke it, cause his stepfather’s treatment of him to become worse.
“He couldn’t be much worse.”
“You don’t know that, Trace. You can’t say that when you don’t know him.”
“And whose fault is that, Mom?” he asked. “Who made it so I never knew him?”
“You don’t understand,” she said, wrapping her arms around herself. “He scared me.”
“And he doesn’t?” He gestured toward the road, where his stepfather could be coming from any time. He reached for the helmet on the back of his bike but only held onto it for a moment. “You don’t have to stay either, Mom.”
She didn’t respond that that, which was no surprise to him. Instead, she said, “If your father’d had wings, he would have flown right into the sun. Where would that have left us?”
“Maybe with a man who could actually love us,” he shouted. “I obviously won’t change your mind. I’m outta here.”
He pulled the helmet over his head and started to strap it on. “Trace, wait.” She walked over to him.
“Why should I?”
Her lip started to tremble, and he regretted his harsh words. Neither of them would change the others’ mind, though. She stepped up to him, setting her hands on his shoulders. Not an easy task, as his shoulders were nearly at her eye level.
“Don’t fly too high,” she told him. “I don’t want to see you burnt. I did what I thought best. I’m sorry that you don’t see it the same way.”
“I don’t see how this could be best, Mom. He hurt you, too.” He had to try again. “You know I have room on the back of the bike. You can come with me.”
She hesitated a moment before shaking her head. “I told you I’m never getting on one of those things again.”
He couldn’t remember his mother ever even talking about riding a motorcycle. What did she mean again? His stepfather certainly didn’t approve of them. He was lucky the man hadn’t done something to wreck his when he wasn’t looking.
“You’d rather stay here with him than trust me to take you on the bike?” he asked her. “I’d keep you safe.”
Only a slightly longer hesitation before she said, “He’s my husband, Trace. I have to stay.”
When she started on the ‘he’s my husband’ path, there was no arguing with her. He turned away and swung a leg over the bike so he was straddling it. Only then did he turn back to her. “I’ll call you when I can, Mom.”
She gave a short nod, her arms still wrapped tight around her body. “Just take care of my son,” she said.
He flipped the visor on my helmet down, twisted the throttle, and then he was gone.