Fiction: Making things right


I love writing my blog. I love it so much that I probably post too frequently, but it keeps me writing and gives me a chance to write about what’s going on in my life. I haven’t posted a lot of my short stories, but it’s also an opportunity to publish some of my other work. Here’s a piece I wrote a few years ago for a writing contest that you may like. What do you think?


John pulled the taxi in front of his parents’ home and turned off the engine. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had had spent the previous three days rehearsing what he was going to say. While he would have liked to delay the discussion, he knew the extra time wouldn’t help. He sighed once more and got out of the cab.

John had flunked out of his freshman year of college and over the past four years had gone through a series of jobs: car salesman, waiter, stadium usher, and bouncer. For the past six months, he had been working nights and weekends as a taxi-cab driver. The job was certainly respectable enough, but John’s parents had higher hopes for their only son.

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John’s parents never had the chance to go to college. His dad graduated high school and went straight to the mill and a part-time job to help support his brothers and sisters. John’s father used to say that he was faced with a simple decision: pitch-in or starve.

Higher hopes

Despite his humble beginnings, John’s father worked his way up to mill manager, before finally retiring when a heart condition began to take a toll on his body. He had managed to build a life for his family, but he wanted a better life for John.

So when John let his lackluster study habits and partying get out of control and later let his artistic skills waste away, well, that was more than John’s parents could take. His father would bring up the idea of college every chance he’d get. John’s mom would try to keep the peace, but she too questioned why he wasn’t working to build a career.

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John approached the front door. He hesitated and then knocked, before letting himself into the house. “Anyone home,” John said in the foyer. The last time he had stepped foot in his parents’ house, John and his father had gotten into one of their worst fights.

“Son, when are you going to grow up and stop throwing away your future? ” his father said. He begged John to sit down with a counselor at the local community college. 

John took his father’s plea as another attempt to control his life. The discussion got emotional and ended with the two men pushing each other. “Dad, I don’t have the same dreams as you. I have my own dreams,” John yelled. He ran out of the house and hadn’t been back since.

Coming home

The fight remained fresh in John’s mind, but he also missed coming home. He couldn’t help but notice the cracked windowpane in his mother’s antique curio cabinet. The result of a playful soccer game with his dad when he was nine and an all-star on the travel soccer team. He noticed too the doorway where his mother marked off his height as a child. He smiled at his high school graduation photo.

John walked to the back porch. In their retirement, John’s parents spent much on their time on the screened patio, reading, napping, or watching the family of rabbits that nested in the yard.  

John stepped onto the porch and dived into his speech. He came with a mission and he didn’t want to lose his nerve. “Mom, Dad, I know it’s been awhile. Let me get this off my chest and then we can talk,” he said. “I know I’ve been stubborn. I know I’ve been difficult. I know that I’ve put you through Hell, but you should know that I’ve decided to go back to art school. I’ve fought you, but I’m ready. It’s going to be a struggle, but I working to get my career back on track.”

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John stopped to take deep breath and wipe a tear from the corner of his eyes. “I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get my dreams straightened out. I’m sorry, I’m really sorry for all the pain I’ve caused you.”

He stopped talking when he heard footsteps inside the house. “Hey John, are you finished with the house yet? Did you get what you needed from inside?”

A silent goodbye

John looked up to see the real estate agent handling the sale of his parents’ property. “Everyone at the firm is sorry to hear about your parents. They were good people,” the agent said, head down, looking for the right words to offer as condolence, but not finding them in the carpet or the rest of the house. “Wrong place at the wrong time. I hope they put that drunk driver away for life. It’s a crying shame.”

John wasn’t sure what to say to the agent either. He just wiped one last silent tear from the corner of his eye and nodded his head.

“When you’re done, I’m going to lock-up. We have a showing this weekend and we’re expecting a large crowd. I know it doesn’t help much, but we shouldn’t have any problems with your asking price. If you have any questions on the sale, give me a call.”

John offered his thanks and left. He had come to do what needed done.

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