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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Emotional · #634900
Song title contest entry. What you gotta do you gotta do.
The rusty chevrolet bumped over the rutted road bouncing me around in the tattered back seat. It seemed like it would take forever to get to Granddad's house. I wouldn't have come along if mom hadn't insisted.

"Are we nearly there?" I asked. Another minute of this backseat agitation would be another minute too long.

"No one asked you to speak," retorted my father. He was in another of his glum moods and I realized I had said too much already.

Mom huddled in her corner of the car trying to disappear into the crack between the door and the front seat. No use in trying to gain her support today. I returned to bouncing and trying to stare out the side window as if nothing mattered really.

We finally got to the dirt road that wound its way to granddad's rustic cottage. At least that's what mom called it. I called it a beaten down old shack out in no-mans-land.

Granddad must have known we were coming because there he was, standing out side in his dirty overalls with a big toothless grin on his face.
What little hair he had, stood up at all angles and fluttered around in the breeze.

"Dad!" shouted my father as he bounced out of the car to grab my granddad in a friendly embrace. Amazing how his mood could change so suddenly when he saw his own father.

My mother slipped quietly around the front of the old chev. I could tell she wasn't all that enthused to be back at 'the shack'. The last time we had been here was a disaster with both granddad and dad in a drunken stupor. It was the Christmas that Grandma got run over by a reindeer.

Seemed that granddad had gotten over his loss pretty fast and dad too, but I loved 'Grammy'. She was the only nice thing about the place. Made it worthwhile to make the bumpy trip out to visit.

"Come on out here, Lorrence. Let me get a look at you." Granddad's voice broke my reverie. "My how you've grown."

I think they pay granddads to say that. At least he said that every time I visited whether I had grown or not. At 15, I don't think I had gained an inch for the past year.

He grabbed me in a bear hug and I cringed at the smell of old cigar smoke and stale wine. I stared down at his shoes. They were the same Christmas shoes he had gotten from us 5 years ago. By now they had blended into the 'rustic' motif of the place, baptised by wine and who knows what else. These were the same shoes that he had kicked me with the last time we were here. I could almost feel the impact again and tightened my buttocks.

Once inside the shack, I settled down in the far corner by the wood heater hoping to disappear as the two men poured a couple of drinks and hunkered down into the lumpy excuse for a couch. Mom busied herself at the stove fixing a pot of coffee just for something to do. I felt so sorry for her. Why she had married my dad I would never know.

I pulled out a paperback book I had brought along and tried to bury myself into another world. Purple People Eater was not my favorite book but it would do.

As the afternoon wore on, the men got louder and started giving my mother a hard time. The usual I thought. Pretty soon they would reduce her to tears and she would lock herself in the old chevie for the night. Then I would be the next victim while dad and granddad laughed at my discomfort.

This time would be different. No longer would I just sit by and let it happen. I must time this just right I thought or I'll be beaten to a blithering mess again. Mother was already starting to get teary eyed by the insults dad flung at her and I could see that I would be all by myself in this plan. She would be of little help.

"Gotta get some fire wood," I said as I jumped up from my cosy corner and strode for the door. I was hoping no one would pay much attention to me.

As luck had it no one did. Dad and granddad were just putting the finishing touches on my mom.

I got out the door and took a deep breath. The night air was pleasant for a summer evening and I could see the car sitting dark against the aspens half lit by the full moon rising coldly over head. In just a few moments I was sitting in the driver's seat. I felt for the ignition and to my relief the keys jingled against my fingers. Father always left them there at granddad's; otherwise he would lose them in his drunken condition.

Suddenly a flash of light hit the corner of my eye. The shack's door had opened and some one was coming my way. I laid down across the passenger's seat, hoping no one would see me. My heart began to race. The back door to the car opened and the car rocked as somebody slid heavily into the back seat. Then the sobbing began. I heaved a sigh of relief. It was mom.

With one motion I sat up and started the ignition. At first the car didn't start and I tried once more. I could hear mom gasp. But before she could say a word we had started down the dirt road away from the shack and all the terrible memories it held for me.

"Lorrence," she stammered, "What are you doing?"

"We are leaving it all behind," I said. "So just let it be."

"But we can't leave your father."

"Why not?"

"Because I love him in spite of all this."

"Well," I said, "I am not going to stop in the name of love and I can't just sit any more and watch this happen again and again."

It was some time down the road that I dared to turn on the lights and pick up speed. Mom was just sitting there not talking. But at least she wasn't crying. I wondered how many other teens had ever kidnapped their mother.

Desparate for some sound in the car I started humming 'I'll be Home For Christmas'.

"No." My mom finally spoke up. "I don't think so."

"Don't think what, mom?" I asked.

"Be home for Christmas."

Excitement began to bubble up somewhere from deep inside me. I looked into the rear view mirror and saw my mom's face dimly. She was smiling slightly. It wasn't only my feelings I sensed, but hers too. Here was a beginning.

"What I like about you, son," she said. "You are not like your father."

I smiled to myself. Now mom would find some good Love, I thought as I turned off that dreadful dirt road and headed for the big city.
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