Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are gesture, immediate and treasure.

The shop is crowded, but they find a table with three chairs and sit, even though the boy is immediately more concerned about the window, what’s outside.
“Hey buddy, turn around and eat your bagel, OK?”
“But daddy, there’s a dog at my bike,” the boy says, turned in his chair, his small hands clutching its back. He has blond hair that’s obviously still being cut at home, blocked and slightly uneven. He wears a small leather fighter jacket, covered in flight insignia patches with a faux sheepskin collar. Over his eyes, chunky white-framed sunglasses with dark lenses.
The bike is his everything, his treasure. So new, the whitewall tires show no smudges. It’s silver, with black and purple stripes.
The training wheels are hard white plastic and are still showroom fresh.
“He’s sniffing it!”
“No, buddy, the woman is just tying him up so she can come in here. He won’t hurt it, I promise. Turn around and let’s eat.”
There’s a tired sadness in his eyes as he smiles at his son. His hair is the same straw-colored blond, but there’s the hint that he’s recently worn it high and tight, a Marine or Ranger clipper cut. He’s unshaven, wearing a gray hoodie under a jeans jacket. His hands unwrap the boy’s bagel, plain toasted with a schmear of cream cheese. The hands are calloused, cuticles chewed and scabbed over to the quick.
“What is this?” the boy asks.
“It’s a bagel, like a round sandwich, but for breakfast. See, watch.”
Wounded hands unwrap the parchment of his own bagel, sesame toasted with a healthy schmear of cream cheese. He stirs his coffee while chewing.
The boy slides up in his seat, a simple brushed metal folding chair that matches the brushed metal table, which is small and round and covered with the detritus of other’s bagel meals.
“It’s very messy,” the boy says, cream cheese on his fingers, the corner of his lips.
“Yeah, buddy, it can be, but watch me OK?”
The sesame bagel is deconstructed into four crescent moons.
“Mine, do mine,” the boy shouts.
Even undone, the boy picks at the bread, takes a taste, drops it on the paper and it falls cream cheese side down.
“Did you have breakfast already?”
“Kyle made pancakes,” the boy says, squirming in his chair to check on his bike. “And eggs.”
He's hurt. He moves a hand to his chest, a gesture that suggests he’s checking for the knife hole into his damaged heart. He raises his eyes to the ceiling, takes a deep breath.
And snaps his attention back to the boy.
“Hey, I’m learning how to cook,” the man says, corralling the boy’s bagel back onto the paper. “What should we have for dinner, I’m gonna cook it.”
“Steak? Really? Yeah, we can do steak. But get this, last week I cooked a turkey. I was thinking we could make turkey pot pie and you can help, OK, buddy? But we have to get to the grocery store for that. I wish grammy would hurry.”
The boy sneaks a backward glance at the bike, takes a bite of bagel, chews.
There’s an awkward silence between them. The man stares at the boy intensely, a tired smile breaks across his face. Another deep breath, a long, deep sigh. There is love in his eyes, but also a sorrow. He rubs his fingers across his lips, across his eyes, the bridge of his nose.
The shop is getting busy and someone asks if they can have the open chair at the table. He nods an OK.
“Looks like grammy doesn’t get to sit, buddy. That’s OK, we’ve got plenty to do. You know buddy,  I’m thinking we should put up Christmas lights in your room. And maybe we should set up your aquarium. What do you say, buddy?”
The boy is consumed with the bike, but turns and smiles.
“Kyle says I won’t need my wheels when I’m 6,” the boy says, touching a cream cheese smeared finger across his left hand, counting out to six.
Hands become fists on the table, there’s a moment of violence in them, but the man relaxes, splays his fingers across the cool aluminum tabletop.
“Hey, Bryce, hey buddy, look at me,” the man says in a near-whisper. “Look at me and tell me that mommy’s happy.”


Jae Rose said...

Oh god, this made my heart feel small..I wish he had given Bryce that bike..I only hope those wounded hands keep on trying..Jae

Isha Ethera said...


VL Sheridan said...

I'm not buying that last sentence; it comes out of no where. It seems heavy handed on the dad's part. The piece was excellant and really showed someone trying to connect with a person they loved up until that point.

Deborah said...

You paint such a vivid picture, just brilliant to read.

R.S. Bohn said...

That's a shot to the heart. I saw your comment on MJSolender's that (most) men feel that way when their kid is born, and I know that some men continue to feel that way as their kid grows up. We hear so much about deadbeat dads, and it breaks my heart when you know there are so many out there trying, you know? Just trying. It's tough.

Nice work. Everyone's getting me emotional today with their stuff...

Michael Solender said...

I'm with Rebbecca, nice sentiment here and punchy dialogue, so much out of a 3 word prompt. Nicely done

dummy girl said...

As usual, amazing description Thom. I love reading your stuff because it's like watching a movie as I read it.

I have to disagree with the comment above about the ending. To me, it's like he's mourning the fact he can't see his son growing up. He's getting a chance now - maybe only a weekend at a time - but still a chance. I envision he had to leave his family to serve his country, and when he got back, things just didn't work out for him and Bryce's mom. I don't think he's trying to be heavy handed, he just wants the best for the mother of his child and his son - and mourning what he doesn't have or justifying the choices he made.

Regardless, very well done Thom - this whole NYC thing seems to be working for you.

Quin Browne said...

One nice thing about living with another person you know that writes, is that you discuss each others work, work over things one or the other of you isn't clear on--you get the picture.

I had to pause when I read the last line--as a mother of five, some whom were very young when their dad left--I am attuned to the cadence of their voices as they age, of how they see the world.

I understand where Thom was going with this... I'd re-word the last line only; not remove it or change it otherwise.

It's how divorced parents talk to their children, to find out what is on... in my head, I can see the child saying, "Mom's happy! She had blueberry pancakes for breakfast!" and from there, the Dad enters that maze that is getting information from a child.

Nice piece, roomie.

pia said...

I liked the ending. While I can see Quinn's point about the mindless chatter this is a writing exercise.
I loved the writing as usual. While I enjoyed the piece immensely I thought it was a bit heavy handed with adjectives--I tended to get lost in them rather than focus on the story. But that could just be me--it was terrific

Jasmin said...

The story wrenched me, from beginning to end. Great grasp of characterization, details and nuance. Excellent!

RachelRenae said...

This filled me with sorrow. I have mixed feelings about the last line, tough, as usual, I was totally captivated by every word.

Jeni Mc said...

"I disagree with VL. He was trying to connect with someone he loves, through another love that happened to be at the table with him. this rips me, I know this guy, he's a piece of so many guys I know.

good piece Thom, youre always a good piece"

b said...

I read this story early this morning. Then it ran around in my brain all day. I wanted to be a fly on the wall to see the man and I wrote a story and I was the lady in the next booth! It was very fun.


G.K. Asante said...

You had my attention from beginning to end. Lovely characterization.

GK Asante

maglomaniac said...

I won't reiterate the fact that when you write you just show us everything(I just repeated:)
But yes i knew that there would be a punch,a bigger thing which came out very well in the last sentence.


Amity said...

AWwwsss...if it's from Thom, it must be good !!!

Kept me glued... :-)

shail said...

Made me feel sad. What a vivid picture you draw with your words.

gautami tripathy said...

Liked that ending...

electronically yours

Hal Johnson said...

You wrapped me up in that one, Thom. Damn sinuses.

faith said...

I like the adjectives, the ending. However, so not a fan of Kyle. :)

eyeography said...

Beautiful imagery :)

Deanna Schrayer said...

This is so beautifully written Thom. You really captured his pain well. Great work!

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story. You did a great job of characterization in this one.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Your writing gets better and better and this story was gorgeous; details like a painting; tears in my eyes from the pain he is feeling. The whole thing grabbed me, but that ending, summed everything up, tore out my heart.