Journaling prompt – take a tidbit from the previous day and write a blurb about it in deep third POV.
When she returned home from walking the dogs, her wooden legs creaked and groaned. Moving across the kitchen floor required a fair amount of resistance to squeamishness. Panko bread crumbs lay underfoot; she knocked into the tray attempting to find counter space for the pork chops, onion, garlic, flour, brown rice, and various breading items. Once, she made pork chops without frying them, and they came out so dry that her son hadn’t been able to help himself from commenting. Most of the time, Robert was the most conscientious person in her life, seamlessly slipping between subjects with guarded emotion, but cooking, or rather, the product of her cooking was the one area he stuck to reckless honesty.
“Hi Mom. Wanna know a fact?”
Her smile spread without thought. From the time her son was in diapers, countless people told her to wait for it. Just wait, they said, you’ll be in for it when he becomes a teenager. It – a two letter word that caused so much consternation, and yet, defied clarity and had never so much as extended a finger for the reach other’s maintained it possessed. No such trouble had commenced, and now, two states North, neighbors, his doctors, and his teachers constantly reiterated how lucky his parents were to have such a even-tempered child. What is it that creates a good natured child?
She nodded her head. “Of course, little prince.”
A bit of hot silliness flashed through her at the endearment; nothing about him was little anymore. Though he still required her hugs several times a day, it was him who wrapped her up in his long, sturdy arms. She picked up the raw pieces of meat, still a bit cold for frying, and opened the warm tap, just to bring them to room temperature before coating them in flour, spices, dipping them in egg wash, and pressing them in panko crumbs. The rogue morsels on the floor embedded themselves into her big toes.
“Did you know that the Chinese Army is creating islands in the South Chinese Sea to increase its military presence in the region?”
She made a small thinking sound while drifting through the BBC news stories she had read in the last few days. “No, I had no idea. What’s the end goal? And what’s that playing on your stereo?”
He lifted a hand to her shoulder. “I don’t have a stereo, Mom. It’s on my computer. It’s WWII music, Chinese national marches. And it’s to increase their military presence, like I said. There’s a lot of disputed territory down there.”
An errant thought diverted her focus. “Do you and your friends talk about WWII?”
He crossed his arms and leaned against the counter. “Nah. Sometimes, they’re not into like I am.”
She had seen that expression on his Father’s face, the tightening in his brow and slightly pressed lips that illustrated his absolute confusion in regards to other children. She remembered this feeling, too, but he had decided to go on.
“I can sum up my middle school in five words. Adidas, Nike, Rap, Looking good, Being fit.”
Technically seven words, but she nodded. “It was much the same when I went to middle school. And you love rap.”
His hands smacked against his legs. “I love old school rap. The kids at my school like new rap. There’s no meaning to the words now.”
“I’m not sure about that.”
How life repeats itself; how many times had she tried to convince her Father that Led Zeppelin was a better band than The Beatles? Or when she clung to seventies Americana – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Heart, James Taylor – and he steadfastly refused to depart from the sixties? It seemed that, no matter where bridges were built, parents and children exist on different islands.
“Well, you’re right about one thing. There really hasn’t been anyone like Tupac since.”
He nodded and grumbled. “I hate that you listen to Nikki Minaj.”
“I’m quite aware. And you like being fit, yes?”
She turned to glance at him out of the corner of her eye. Though he grew thinner with every upward inch, weight remained a tacky issue. As such, he looked at the ground while he answered. “I guess. Not like the other guys. I’m just one of the smart kids that everyone ignores.”
A deep rush of tension rose in her gut, filling her stomach with cement. The notion that everyone ignored him was as frightening as it was hurtful – the proliferation of mass media has turned introversion into a suspicious activity, and unwillingly, that thought brought forth images of trench coats and children jumping out of third story windows.
A teaching moment was required, but how to frame it without lying was the problem. He waited, well acquainted with the time it took her to answer to such serious statements, and as she placed the breaded pork chops into the fryer, she turned and looked at him dead on. “Being intelligent is far more important than being popular. But it can be isolating. Try not to give up on other people.”
His eyes flashed towards the office, where she had spent much of the last six months drafting and redrafting her first novel, but he didn’t say anything about it. “I won’t. I’ve been talking to this Romanian girl in my homeroom.”
She laughed. “Another European, of course you have. You don’t like American girls, do you?”
He smiled and wandered away a few steps. “There are a lot of Eastern European girls at my school, and they’re more interesting than the ones who just want to be property.”
She listened with drawn brows as he stated his opinion. The Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian girls were quiet, they didn’t make him feel bad or laugh at him when he was unsure of an answer, and they liked to discuss history with him, that being the solidifying factor for his preference.
When the fryer dinged, she plated the food, but had to know. “What do you mean, girls that want to be property?”
He held his plate in his hand, fully intent on retreating to his Chinese national marches and his WWII strategy game. After smiling, he spoke with an air of someone providing an explanation to a child. “The girls who just want a boyfriend. They don’t care about each other, they just want…to look good. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for college.”
She broke into more laughter. “Thank the universe for small favors.”