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short story titled 'On The Move' critique please

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  • Metta
    ON THE MOVE Simon’s feet pounded on the floor as he burst into the kitchen, threw his bag onto the floor and came to a sudden stop. Tilly watched him as he
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 30, 2003

      ON THE MOVE

      Simon’s feet pounded on the floor as he burst into the kitchen, threw his bag onto the floor and came to a sudden stop.  Tilly watched him as he switched his horror stricken expression from the boxes on the kitchen table, to Dave and back to her.

      “What’s going on,” Simon asked.

      Tilly packed a couple more plates into the cardboard box.  Her voice trembled.  “We’re moving.”

      “It’s not fair,” Simon grumbled.  “Why can’t we stay this time?”

      Tilly’s voice quavered as she glanced sideways at Dave, then just as quickly looked away and went on with her packing. “Your father’s got another job.”

      Simon looked sharply at his father.  “You said we wouldn’t have to move again.

      Dave was slouched in the chair, drawing on a cigarette with one hand.  He had a can of Melbourne Bitter in the other.  His words drawled.  “It’s more money this time.  I’ll be able to buy you that skate board I’ve been promising you.”

      “Yeah,” Simon sneered, turning his back on his parents and grabbing a large bottle of orange juice from the fridge.

      Tilly watched him pour it as she thought about the two years Dave had been promising him that skate board.  She knew as well as Simon did that Dave would never keep that promise.

      Simon cast Tilly a pleading look.  “I’ve just made some new friends again and I don’t want to lose them.”

      Her voice was almost a whisper.  “I know.  But you could write to them.”

      “It’s not the same,”  Simon mumbled, grabbing a fist full of biscuits from a nearby box.

      Tilly watched his expression changing from dispair to anger.

      “When are we moving?”

      “We’re leaving Sunday morning.  Dave starts his new job on Monday.”

      Simon chomped into a biscuit as he stormed off to his room.

      “We’ll be having dinner soon,” Tilly called after him, but he didn’t answer.

      She expected his reaction to be more explosive as it always was when she had to tell him they were moving again.  He usually asked where they were going.  Tilly felt uneasy and wondered what he was thinking.

      Simon never talked to his parents about his feelings much.  They were always too tied up with their own problems. Whenever Simon tried to talk to Dave it was always the same.  “I haven’t got time.”

      Tilly finished dishing out the food then called, “Simon, your dinner is ready.”

      But there was no answer.

      She was annoyed and tapped on his door.  “Simon, come on, your dinner will get cold.  Hurry up.” But still there was no answer.  “I’m coming in,” she said slowly, pushing the door open and gasped.  Simon wasn’t in his room.  The window was open and she knew how he got out without them seeing him.  She raced back to the kitchen calling, “Simon’s gone.  He’s not in his room.”

      “He’s probably gone to visit one of his friends,” Dave drawled.

      “We haven’t been here long enough for him to make friends and besides, he knew dinner was soon.”

      Dave reached for another can of beer and pulled on the ring.  Beer spilt onto the mat Tilly loved when she first bought it, and onto his already soiled pants she’d taken from the line that morning and pressed.

      “What about those kids at school he mentioned.”

      “I don’t think he knows where they live.  Besides, it’s not like Simon to run off so close to dinner.  Chicken and roast potatoes is his favourite.“

      “Perhaps he forgot this time.”

      But Tilly knew that wasn’t true.

      Tilly glanced from the clock to Dave and asked,  “What do you think we should do?  He’s still not home and it’s been four and a half hours.”

      Dave was slouched back in his chair with his legs sprawled as he took a long swig  from his last can of beer.  His voice was gruff.  “He’ll be home when he’s ready.  I told you, he’s probably just gone to visit his friends or somewhere to cool off for a while.”

      “He always tells me if he’s going to a friend’s place.”

      Tilly glared at him with anger blazing in her eyes.  “You don’t care do you?”

      “Of course I do,” he spat  “Don’t worry about the boy.  I told you he’ll be back.”

      Tilly reached for the phone.

      “Who are you ringing?” he barked.

      “The Police.”

      Dave jumped from his chair and stormed across the room.

      “Where are you going?” Tilly’s voice quavered.

      “The pub.”  He slammed the door behind him.

      Tilly dialled 000.

      A voice at the other end of the phone answered, “Altona North Police Station, Constable Withers speaking, how can I help you?”

      “I want to report a missing child,” Tilly began in a shaky voice, trying to keep the tears back.

      The usual questions followed and she had to think hard.  What was he wearing when he left?  “We’ve only just moved into the area and Simon hasn’t had time to make many friends, but he has mentioned one name.  Spud.”

      “Probably a nick name.  Do you know his surname, or where he lives?”

      Tilly felt helpless and wished she’d found out more about Simon’s friends.

      Constable Withers repeated what Dave had already said.  “It’s only early yet, he’ll probably turn up.  Most kids do after they’ve had enough time to cool off after an argument.  Some stay with friends for a few days, but they usually turn up.”

      “But it’s not like Simon.  He’s never done anything like this before.”

      “If he isn’t home by morning, call in and we’ll write up a report.  We’ll let you know if we find him Mam,” Constable Withers promised and the phone went dead.

      Tilly slumped into a chair reliving the past few years in her mind.

      The hours passed slower than ever that night as she lay in her bed, red-eyed and staring at the celing in the semi darkness waiting for news of Simon and wishing they’d talked more.  She glanced at her clock.  It was 1 in the morning and Dave crashed into the house.  She heard him collapse onto the kitchen floor with a loud grunt and knew she wouldn’t have to pretend she was asleep now.

      Dave was sprawled across the kitchen floor when she rose the next morning, but she stepped over him and ignored him as she prepared her breakfast.

      Yesterday’s newspaper was still laying on the kitchen table.  She flicked through the pages and tore one of them out, folding in neatly and pushing it into her bag, then left her dishes in the sink.

      She crossed the floor of Simon’s room and  noticed his school books, pens, pencils and paper scattered over his bed.  His school bag was gone and a few clothes from the wardrobe.  She rummaged through his draws, but only a few socks and underpants were missing.

      As she was leaving, she reached for a small photo of Simon on the mantelpiece and slipped it into her bag.

      Dave stirred and tried to pull himself up onto the chair and slumped back onto the floor.  He looked as though he hadn’t slept for a week, his hair was unkempt and his face was unshaven.  The smell of beer and body odour was overpowering as Tilly spat the words at him like sparks of fire.  “Where were you last night.”

      “What’s it to you.  You don’t care.”  There was anger and hatred in his bloodshot eyes.

      Tilly mirrored his icy look of contempt as she turned to leave. “You’re right.  I don’t care.  Not any more,” she told him, surprising herself.  “I’m not going with you.  I’m going to stay here until Simon comes home.”

      His eyes bulged and his mouth gaped with shock.  “What are you going to do?”

      “Something I should have done a long time ago.” She shot him a sharp, penetrating look of contempt as she left him lying on the floor and closed the door behind her.

      Dave’s words were slurred but she didn’t look back.

      But Tilly didn’t care.  She felt pleased with herself.  For the first time, she’d stood up for herself and now she had a job to start the next week.  She’d arranged with the agent, she’d pay a little extra each week until she’d caught up with the rent they still owed.

      She phoned the police again but there was still no news of Simon and she wondered if she’d left everything too late.  She’d often heard reports of things like this happening to other families but she never thought it would happen to her.

      There was a news report that evening.  Another boy in the same area had gone missing the same day Simon disappeared.  He attended the same school.  There was no name mentioned.  Tilly’s mind raced.  The sudden shock jolted her her.  Then the phone rang and it was Constable Withers.

      “We have found your son.  Can you come down to the station right away?”

      “Yes, I’ll be there in half an hour,” she said and put the phone down.  She was glad she lived close by.

      Constable Whithers ushered Tilly into his room and told her to sit down.  Tilly glanced at the woman in the other chair and smiled.  “A truck driver, heading for Perth, picked your son up late last night.  He was hitchhiking with another boy we’ve identified as Spud, the boy you told us about earlier.  His real name is Peter and this is his mother.”

      Tilly turned back to the woman in the other chair again, this time shocked and noticed the worried look in her face.  “Hello.  I’m Tilly.”

      A slight relief passed over the other woman’s face as she smiled and replied, “My name’s Caroline.  Peter’s mentioned Simon a lot.  They’re good friends.”

      Constable Withers interrupted the short conversation.  “The truck driver who picked up the two boys believed them to be runaways and rang us from a petrol station.  The boys didn’t know.  He told them he would only be a minute while he paid for his petrol.  We’ve sent a car out to get them.  But what we want to know is why they ran away together.  Did either of the boys know anyone there?”

      “Yes,” Tilly began, her heart soaring.  “We used to live there, in Subiaco.  Simon had friends there.”

      Constable Withers turned to Caroline.  “Why do you think Peter ran off with Simon?”

      “I don’t know, but they were very good friends.  They’d only known each other a very short time, but Peter often told me he’d never had a friend like Simon.  I suppose, if Simon told Peter he was leaving, Peter might have gone with him because he didn’t want to lose him.  He’d always been an adventurous boy and wanted to travel, so he might have thought running away was exciting.  We’ll probably only find out when the boys get back.”

      Just then, the door opened and the two boys were ushered in by another policeman.  Everyone exchanged looks of surprise and worry as the two families were reunited.

      “Are you all able to get home all right now then,” Constable asked, rising from his seat and offering his hand to each of the women for a farewell shake.

      “Yes thank you,” Caroline said with a warm smile and turned to Tilly.  “My car is just outside.  Would you like a lift home, or are you all right for transport?”

      Tilly couldn’t be happier.  She had everything she needed, her son was home, she’d made a new friend and with her new job, she’d be able to buy Simon that skate board he’d waited so long for.  This Christmas would be a time to remember for all of them.

      Metta

      Copyright 2003



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    • Cynthia L. Heier
      I don t normally comment on prose, I connected with this story and then was disappointed in the rushed ending...somehow something is missing...as I don t write
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 1, 2003
        I don't normally comment on prose, I connected with this story and then was disappointed in the rushed ending...somehow something is missing...as I don't write prose, I can't tell you what it is...the connection between the two boys? communication between mother and son?
        hope this helps...
        hugs and slurps,
        cin and buckaroo
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Metta
        Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2003 9:23 PM
        Subject: [ticket2write] short story titled 'On The Move' critique please

        ON THE MOVE

        Simon’s feet pounded on the floor as he burst into the kitchen, threw his bag onto the floor and came to a sudden stop.  Tilly watched him as he switched his horror stricken expression from the boxes on the kitchen table, to Dave and back to her.

        “What’s going on,” Simon asked.

        Tilly packed a couple more plates into the cardboard box.  Her voice trembled.  “We’re moving.”

        “It’s not fair,” Simon grumbled.  “Why can’t we stay this time?”

        Tilly’s voice quavered as she glanced sideways at Dave, then just as quickly looked away and went on with her packing. “Your father’s got another job.”

        Simon looked sharply at his father.  “You said we wouldn’t have to move again.

        Dave was slouched in the chair, drawing on a cigarette with one hand.  He had a can of Melbourne Bitter in the other.  His words drawled.  “It’s more money this time.  I’ll be able to buy you that skate board I’ve been promising you.”

        “Yeah,” Simon sneered, turning his back on his parents and grabbing a large bottle of orange juice from the fridge.

        Tilly watched him pour it as she thought about the two years Dave had been promising him that skate board.  She knew as well as Simon did that Dave would never keep that promise.

        Simon cast Tilly a pleading look.  “I’ve just made some new friends again and I don’t want to lose them.”

        Her voice was almost a whisper.  “I know.  But you could write to them.”

        “It’s not the same,”  Simon mumbled, grabbing a fist full of biscuits from a nearby box.

        Tilly watched his expression changing from dispair to anger.

        “When are we moving?”

        “We’re leaving Sunday morning.  Dave starts his new job on Monday.”

        Simon chomped into a biscuit as he stormed off to his room.

        “We’ll be having dinner soon,” Tilly called after him, but he didn’t answer.

        She expected his reaction to be more explosive as it always was when she had to tell him they were moving again.  He usually asked where they were going.  Tilly felt uneasy and wondered what he was thinking.

        Simon never talked to his parents about his feelings much.  They were always too tied up with their own problems. Whenever Simon tried to talk to Dave it was always the same.  “I haven’t got time.”

        Tilly finished dishing out the food then called, “Simon, your dinner is ready.”

        But there was no answer.

        She was annoyed and tapped on his door.  “Simon, come on, your dinner will get cold.  Hurry up.” But still there was no answer.  “I’m coming in,” she said slowly, pushing the door open and gasped.  Simon wasn’t in his room.  The window was open and she knew how he got out without them seeing him.  She raced back to the kitchen calling, “Simon’s gone.  He’s not in his room.”

        “He’s probably gone to visit one of his friends,” Dave drawled.

        “We haven’t been here long enough for him to make friends and besides, he knew dinner was soon.”

        Dave reached for another can of beer and pulled on the ring.  Beer spilt onto the mat Tilly loved when she first bought it, and onto his already soiled pants she’d taken from the line that morning and pressed.

        “What about those kids at school he mentioned.”

        “I don’t think he knows where they live.  Besides, it’s not like Simon to run off so close to dinner.  Chicken and roast potatoes is his favourite.“

        “Perhaps he forgot this time.”

        But Tilly knew that wasn’t true.

        Tilly glanced from the clock to Dave and asked,  “What do you think we should do?  He’s still not home and it’s been four and a half hours.”

        Dave was slouched back in his chair with his legs sprawled as he took a long swig  from his last can of beer.  His voice was gruff.  “He’ll be home when he’s ready.  I told you, he’s probably just gone to visit his friends or somewhere to cool off for a while.”

        “He always tells me if he’s going to a friend’s place.”

        Tilly glared at him with anger blazing in her eyes.  “You don’t care do you?”

        “Of course I do,” he spat  “Don’t worry about the boy.  I told you he’ll be back.”

        Tilly reached for the phone.

        “Who are you ringing?” he barked.

        “The Police.”

        Dave jumped from his chair and stormed across the room.

        “Where are you going?” Tilly’s voice quavered.

        “The pub.”  He slammed the door behind him.

        Tilly dialled 000.

        A voice at the other end of the phone answered, “Altona North Police Station, Constable Withers speaking, how can I help you?”

        “I want to report a missing child,” Tilly began in a shaky voice, trying to keep the tears back.

        The usual questions followed and she had to think hard.  What was he wearing when he left?  “We’ve only just moved into the area and Simon hasn’t had time to make many friends, but he has mentioned one name.  Spud.”

        “Probably a nick name.  Do you know his surname, or where he lives?”

        Tilly felt helpless and wished she’d found out more about Simon’s friends.

        Constable Withers repeated what Dave had already said.  “It’s only early yet, he’ll probably turn up.  Most kids do after they’ve had enough time to cool off after an argument.  Some stay with friends for a few days, but they usually turn up.”

        “But it’s not like Simon.  He’s never done anything like this before.”

        “If he isn’t home by morning, call in and we’ll write up a report.  We’ll let you know if we find him Mam,” Constable Withers promised and the phone went dead.

        Tilly slumped into a chair reliving the past few years in her mind.

        The hours passed slower than ever that night as she lay in her bed, red-eyed and staring at the celing in the semi darkness waiting for news of Simon and wishing they’d talked more.  She glanced at her clock.  It was 1 in the morning and Dave crashed into the house.  She heard him collapse onto the kitchen floor with a loud grunt and knew she wouldn’t have to pretend she was asleep now.

        Dave was sprawled across the kitchen floor when she rose the next morning, but she stepped over him and ignored him as she prepared her breakfast.

        Yesterday’s newspaper was still laying on the kitchen table.  She flicked through the pages and tore one of them out, folding in neatly and pushing it into her bag, then left her dishes in the sink.

        She crossed the floor of Simon’s room and  noticed his school books, pens, pencils and paper scattered over his bed.  His school bag was gone and a few clothes from the wardrobe.  She rummaged through his draws, but only a few socks and underpants were missing.

        As she was leaving, she reached for a small photo of Simon on the mantelpiece and slipped it into her bag.

        Dave stirred and tried to pull himself up onto the chair and slumped back onto the floor.  He looked as though he hadn’t slept for a week, his hair was unkempt and his face was unshaven.  The smell of beer and body odour was overpowering as Tilly spat the words at him like sparks of fire.  “Where were you last night.”

        “What’s it to you.  You don’t care.”  There was anger and hatred in his bloodshot eyes.

        Tilly mirrored his icy look of contempt as she turned to leave. “You’re right.  I don’t care.  Not any more,” she told him, surprising herself.  “I’m not going with you.  I’m going to stay here until Simon comes home.”

        His eyes bulged and his mouth gaped with shock.  “What are you going to do?”

        “Something I should have done a long time ago.” She shot him a sharp, penetrating look of contempt as she left him lying on the floor and closed the door behind her.

        Dave’s words were slurred but she didn’t look back.

        But Tilly didn’t care.  She felt pleased with herself.  For the first time, she’d stood up for herself and now she had a job to start the next week.  She’d arranged with the agent, she’d pay a little extra each week until she’d caught up with the rent they still owed.

        She phoned the police again but there was still no news of Simon and she wondered if she’d left everything too late.  She’d often heard reports of things like this happening to other families but she never thought it would happen to her.

        There was a news report that evening.  Another boy in the same area had gone missing the same day Simon disappeared.  He attended the same school.  There was no name mentioned.  Tilly’s mind raced.  The sudden shock jolted her her.  Then the phone rang and it was Constable Withers.

        “We have found your son.  Can you come down to the station right away?”

        “Yes, I’ll be there in half an hour,” she said and put the phone down.  She was glad she lived close by.

        Constable Whithers ushered Tilly into his room and told her to sit down.  Tilly glanced at the woman in the other chair and smiled.  “A truck driver, heading for Perth, picked your son up late last night.  He was hitchhiking with another boy we’ve identified as Spud, the boy you told us about earlier.  His real name is Peter and this is his mother.”

        Tilly turned back to the woman in the other chair again, this time shocked and noticed the worried look in her face.  “Hello.  I’m Tilly.”

        A slight relief passed over the other woman’s face as she smiled and replied, “My name’s Caroline.  Peter’s mentioned Simon a lot.  They’re good friends.”

        Constable Withers interrupted the short conversation.  “The truck driver who picked up the two boys believed them to be runaways and rang us from a petrol station.  The boys didn’t know.  He told them he would only be a minute while he paid for his petrol.  We’ve sent a car out to get them.  But what we want to know is why they ran away together.  Did either of the boys know anyone there?”

        “Yes,” Tilly began, her heart soaring.  “We used to live there, in Subiaco.  Simon had friends there.”

        Constable Withers turned to Caroline.  “Why do you think Peter ran off with Simon?”

        “I don’t know, but they were very good friends.  They’d only known each other a very short time, but Peter often told me he’d never had a friend like Simon.  I suppose, if Simon told Peter he was leaving, Peter might have gone with him because he didn’t want to lose him.  He’d always been an adventurous boy and wanted to travel, so he might have thought running away was exciting.  We’ll probably only find out when the boys get back.”

        Just then, the door opened and the two boys were ushered in by another policeman.  Everyone exchanged looks of surprise and worry as the two families were reunited.

        “Are you all able to get home all right now then,” Constable asked, rising from his seat and offering his hand to each of the women for a farewell shake.

        “Yes thank you,” Caroline said with a warm smile and turned to Tilly.  “My car is just outside.  Would you like a lift home, or are you all right for transport?”

        Tilly couldn’t be happier.  She had everything she needed, her son was home, she’d made a new friend and with her new job, she’d be able to buy Simon that skate board he’d waited so long for.  This Christmas would be a time to remember for all of them.

        Metta

        Copyright 2003



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