Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tied With Dad

I'm climbing a mountain with my dad. He's young and handsome, with a thick bushy beard and mustache that hide his mouth until he laughs, yells or tells a story I have heard a hundred times--each telling features something just a little more fantastic and bigger than before. His brown hair covers his head like a domed mushroom cap, while mine lays flat against my scalp, except for the five or so cowlicks stilted like searching periscopes. I'm tied to him as he ascends--he's sure of every hold, and supports me when I fall, dangling in the naked abyss thousands of feet above the ground that waits like a catcher signaling for the fast ball. I holler for him to pull me up, but he tells me to swing--and I do, until my hands and feet gain a purchase once again, and I climb back up to him and he pats me on the head and tells me that I come from a long line of survivors.

The clouds are racing by, storms rage and deliquesce, the sun streaks across the horizon, swinging like a morning star--around and around, propelled by the wielder of time. The sun scalds and the night freezes, and still we climb on and on. We see other climbers along the way, safe on grassy shelves; dad borrows some of their equipment and knows he'll never return it, while I silently disapprove.

We crest a peak into a sunny valley where the sun has slowed to a normal pace; the mist tickles my face as I stare in wonder at a rainbow in the sky. The sunlight spreads like a Geisha's fan across a small town where a pot of gold should be, and I start to run. Dad stops me with a hand to the shoulder.

"We are pressing on son."

I turn on him, "To go where dad?! We've been climbing forever and I'm sick of it."

His brow is wrinkled now, and flecks of gray have suffused his hair like bright light behind a bullet-riddled door. "It's who we are son. Life in a town is about rules and restrictions. Up there," he gestured towards the mountain peaks that splayed like broken fingers, "is freedom."

"It's not who we are dad, it's who you are. I'm staying here."

He scratches his head and smiles. "Well, well, my boy has become a man." He steps in front of me, and our eyes meet on the same level. His are slightly misted but his face is alight with pride. "Go then and make your way, but I can't stay."

He turns and starts away.

"Dad, wait." He stops but doesn't turn to look.

"Will I see you again?"

His voice is cracked, and I understand now that he can't look at me anymore. "Whenever you need me, I'll always be a call away."

I don't feel like a man anymore as he disappears into the shadows of the trees, rather a little boy--stifling a cry for his daddy.


Beth said...

It's hard for me to read stories about fathers right now. Well, not hard, but I'm always interjecting my own life into it.

Scott said...

Beth - Sorry, knowing that you would read this hadn't crossed my mind. I hope you don't think it insensitive.

Mr. T said...

This was a great story... very metaphorical in the splitting of ways of thought between you and your father. Very reflective of the current events (ie last visits to your father's house) where you are your own man but still his little boy. Its hard to break that kind of love, no matter how stubborn that person may be. I had to break ties with my father over a difference of opinion. Luckily we've patched things up since then, but even during that time I never stopped loving my father.
I liked this story because it symbolizes what I think most young men have to face when they finally step out of their father's shadow and begin to cast one of their own.

Tee said...

I've never been mountain climbing. How old were you? Were you scared? Where did he plan to live on the top of the mountain?

Really beautiful descriptions.

Scott said...

Mr. T - Thanks a lot. I really liked your last paragraph: I liked this story because it symbolizes what I think most young men have to face when they finally step out of their father's shadow and begin to cast one of their own.

Keep writing man, you have talent.

Tee - Actually, the whole story is a metaphor. Sorry for getting artsy fartsy. I got the idea when I used the mountain climbing metaphor in a single sentence and experimented by expanding it to the whole piece. The mountain is life, falling and learning to gain purchase on my own is growing up and taking responsibility, etc.

Miranda said...

*hops over to keep your old self company* :( Oh no. A sad one.
But, as always, a pleasure to read.

The Zombieslayer said...

Scott - I don't have anything intelligent to add. Good story. It speaks for itself.

amberdusk said...

WOW! I loved the way you showed the passage of time in the atmosphere around you and the change in your father's appearance. Even the way you addressed your father changed from line to line. Brilliantly done. The tie between a father and child is so unique- as you have said so yourself.
Isn't it interesting how all us different people with different experiences have a lot of the same concerns and same emotions.

Scott said...

Miranda - You're right, I haven't told a lot of happy stories. I'll have to put my mind to it.

Zombie - Thanks man.

Amber - Gosh, thanks. I had a little fun with this one.

jenbeauty said...

I loved this piece...I think it is one of my favorites.

Scott said...

Thanks Jen!