Achromatic: Chapter 1 Scene 5

PM November 4, 1962

Forrest Residence, Cody, Wyoming

Lillian walked from the kitchen to the base of the stairs.

“Emma!  Dinner’s ready.  Come down please.”

As Jack placed the knives and forks on the placemats, he looked at his wife as she moved back to the kitchen.  He did not know how she was able to maintain her calm, when he was teetering on the edge.  Lily pulled the meatloaf out of the oven, put it down on the kitchen counter and sliced it into generous pieces, before giving the salad a last primping with the tongs and bringing the casserole dish and salad bowl to the table.  They both sat down, and took turns at filling their plates.

Five minutes passed, with no sound coming from upstairs.  Jack bellowed, his voice reverberating throughout the house.

“Emma!  Get down here now!”

Lily glared across the table.  “Really, Jack! The neighbourhood needed to hear that, did they?”  He lowered his head, glowering at his plate as he ate.

Ten seconds passed before the sound of a door opening came from upstairs, and footsteps began to fall on the stairs.  Lily watched as a pair of denim jeans, and then a black and white shirt, came into view.  Long black hair obscured the teenager’s face as she sat at the table, and began to heap salad onto her plate.  Jack looked to his daughter, grimaced as he stifled his anger, looking over to Lily and flicking his eyes to the young lady.

Lily looked to the teenager.  “Pull your hair back please, honey.  You don’t need hair in your salad.”

Emma raised her left hand and brushed her hair behind her ear.  The piercing green eye now visible was accompanied by an arched eyebrow and a curled lip.  She made no movement to brush the rest of her hair behind her right ear, keeping her face out of her father’s view.

“All of it.”

The glowering teenager grudgingly did as she was told, giving Jack a brief withering look before returning her attention to her plate.

Lily tried to lighten the oppressive atmosphere in the room.  “What have you been up to, Emma?  You haven’t come out of your room all day.”

She did not raise her eyes, finishing chewing before she spoke.  “Reading and studying.”

“Which tests have you got coming up?”

“Science and Social Studies.”

“How do you think you’ll go?”

A shrug of the shoulders.  “Alright.”

The family ate in silence for a time, Jack and Emma both intensely concentrating on their plates.  Lily looked between the pair, smiling wryly as she shook her head and returned to her meal.  The two loves of her life were as pig-headed as each other, making the expected disagreements between teenagers and their parents all the more frustrating.  Jack preferred to talk things through, but when that option was cut off, he was like a kettle on the boil.  Looking across to Jack, she could almost see the steam rising from his ears.  She guessed she had better try to diffuse the situation.

“Honey, your father and I are not upset that you wanted to go to the protest.  That you care about wildlife, the park and ensuring your voice is heard is wonderful.”

A brief upturn at the corner of her mouth showed Emma was taking in her words.

“What we are upset about is that you did it without telling us, and made up the story of going to Citrine’s for the day to cover for it.  We want you to trust us, and we want to trust you.  If you do something that we don’t know about, and harm comes to you, we’d never be able to forgive ourselves.  Please do not give us a reason not to trust you.”

The teenager looked at her mother, her green eyes showing remorse.  “Sorry, Mum.  I won’t do it again.”

Jack finally raised his eyes, giving Emma a critical look.  “And taking rides from complete strangers is no small matter either.”

The indignation returned to Emma’s face.  “I wasn’t the only person who got a lift to Yellowstone.  A handful of other Cody folk were in there as well.”

“That is not the point.  You need to be careful of people passing through the town.  They could be criminals on the run, or any other manner of crazies.  Sherriff Steele does not need the extra workload of teenagers not thinking through who they catch rides with.”

Emma rolled her eyes.  “Come on, Dad.  You are so melodramatic.  I wouldn’t have got in the van by myself.  The other townsfolk would make sure I was safe.”

Jack sighed.  “Fine, but I am allowed to be concerned for your safety.  It’s not just Sheriff Steele’s concern.  I am your father after all, and I want to know you’re safe at all times.”

Emma gave her Dad a lopsided smile, her emerald eyes twinkling.

“Besides, I’ll make the sheriff lock you up for the night if you do it again.”

They all laughed, and then finished off the last of their meal.  Lily gathered the plates and took them into the kitchen, adding them to the washing.  As she looked out the window, she could see that the snow had begun to fall in earnest.

“Jack, Emma.  You want a cup of hot cocoa?”

The pair nodded their acceptance of the offer as they sat down on the couch, ready to watch the night’s programming.

Jack considered his daughter.  “Is that a new shirt?”

Emma nodded.  “One of the others at the rally gave me one.  They had a small pile of them in their van.”

“What’s that on the front?”

The teenager rolled her eyes.  “Don’t be clueless, Dad.  You know it’s a Giant Panda.”

Jack gave a cheeky smile.  “Just making sure you knew.  What do those initials stand for?”

“World Wildlife Fund.  The organisation was formed in Switzerland last year.  They want to protect the environment, and push towards everyone living in harmony with nature.”

Jack considered his daughter’s words.  “I wonder what Ohio Oil…  I mean, Marathon Oil… will have to say about that.”

– Î –

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9 responses

  1. Good progress. Just two caveats: who is Frank? You mention him, but it’s as if he’s Jack, and you used the name “Frank” by mistake. Also, “Looking out the window, the snow began to fall, etc.” “Looking out the window” needs to modify (describe) a human agent or agents. As it reads now, the snow began to fall as IT was looking out the window, a thing snow cannot do. Maybe you could say instead, “as they watched at the window,” or “as they were looking out the window,” or even with a human agent merely implied, you could rephrase entirely to say “A casual glance out the window showed that the snow had begun to fall.” Sorry to be such a grammar granny, but places to which you might submit your story when it’s finished will penalize you for misplaced and dangling modifiers (describers). Otherwise, I’d say this is shaping up very nicely, and you are keeping the suspense up well as to just what you’re getting ready to cause to happen.

    1. Thanks Doc. I double-checked all my Frank’s and Jack’s, but one must have slipped through >(

      Very true; my bad. Maybe ‘The Snow Has Eyes’ would work for a horror story =P

      As always, your support is greatly appreciated =D

      1. Man that snow sounds scary as hell.

    2. All the Franks are Jacks now, and the snow no longer has eyes. Thanks for the pick-ups =)

  2. Pretty sure I had a shirt like that as a kid. 🙂 Nice to see some teenage drama.

    1. Can’t not have it when there’s high school kids involved. It seems teenage drama will be the name of the game for Chapter 2 =P

      1. I’m interested in your chapter layout. Are you actually going to pyramid it like that, or is that just draft biz?

      2. Yep, the pyramid is the plan. Makes you super focus on hitting the right crescendo =)

      3. Ahhh! So you are 9 parts in and 25% of the way through. Your pacing is going well, in that case. Building nicely already.

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