Friday, December 4, 2015

Fiction Friday #7: Playground Dad Part 1 (with link up)

I started the Fiction Friday series in October to help improve my descriptive prose writing. Perhaps I'll write a book some day, most likely not, but I'm enjoying being creative each week. If you'd like to write along with me, I will have a link up for the series each week. Add a link to fiction on your blog.

After my blind date story two weeks ago, I got some feedback that I shouldn't end the story right when the action is getting started, so I've decided to write a multi-part story for the next few weeks. We'll see how it goes. I have only written this first part so far.

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"Hurry up, Jack!" I yell. I feel guilty for yelling as soon as I’ve done it. He’s only 4 year old. But I'm in a hurry. I want to get to the playground by 5:15 PM. That's what time he was there two weeks ago with his twins. They had to be about 3 and a half years old. The girl had wispy blonde hair and was wearing a mismatched pink floral shirt, red stretch pants, and purple sandals over pink and white striped socks. She'd clearly dressed herself. The boy, a red-head, wore a Lightning McQueen t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

I've been calling him Playground Dad in my head. I can’t stop daydreaming about him. Even now my mind jumps to the way he was with his kids. Not like the moms at the playground. Once Jack was old enough, I was happy to join the other moms on the benches to swap war stories. I don’t want to be climbing around or pushing Jack on the swing after a long day at work. I want to relax. I want to talk to other grownups about something other than next year’s sales forecasts.

But Playground Dad was right there with his twins, crawling through the tunnels, sliding down the fireman's pole, playing tag. He seemed to be having just as good of a time as the kids. Brad never played like that with Jack.

Is he even single? I wonder. I didn't see a wedding ring, but the way he played with the twins made it seem like he didn't see them all that often. And the timing, Friday evening, seemed to fit with an every other weekend type arrangement. Like he'd stopped by the playground right after picking up the kids from daycare or from their mom's house for the weekend.

I’m over analyzing again. I can’t help it. A man who's actually good with his kids is a real catch. Which is why we need to leave now. What is Jack doing?

I run up the stairs to investigate. I find him sitting on the floor of his room playing. Seriously? I scream inside my head. Doesn't he realize we're supposed to be leaving? I take a deep breathe. I don’t want to yell again. A meltdown will only delay our departure even more.

"Jack, honey, what are you doing?" I say calmly. Or at least as calmly as I can manage. "Don't you want to go to the park? It's a beautiful day." It's the middle of June in Michigan, so the sun is still shining, and it's 73 degrees. Perfect weather for a walk to the playground. It's only a block away, so I'll walk while Jack rides his bike.

"I don't want to go," Jack says, "I'm building a house." He's playing with his construction vehicles, his most recent obsession. Brad is a contractor, and Jack wants to be just like his father. Just my luck since I can't stand to even think about him unless it's absolutely necessary. It's been 7 months since the divorce and my feelings are still very raw.

"Please, Jack," I beg, "I really want to spend some time outside. I was stuck inside all day at work. I could use the fresh air. And you need to burn off some energy before bed time."

"No."

I'm running out of patience. I glance at my phone. It's 5:12 PM. Crap! We need to be gone. Like 5 minutes ago.

"What if I pull you in the wagon, and you get a treat on the way?" I say, beginning the bargaining process. I shouldn't do this. I shouldn't let him be in control. I should put my foot down. But I don't have the energy. It'll just end up a fight. I'm tired of fighting after the divorce.

"Can I have candy?" Jack asked innocently.

"Sure." I reply quickly. "Now let's go."

Jack jumps up immediately. I rejoice inwardly. We head downstairs. In the kitchen, I grab the bag of Easter candy out of the cupboard above the refrigerator while Jack puts his shoes on in the back hall. Then we head into the garage to get the wagon. He jumps in, and I hand him the bag of candy. I'm not worried about him eating too much. It's a short walk.

While Jack munches happily on his candy, a small box of Nerds, I think again about Playground Dad. Will he even be at the park tonight? What if it isn't part of his routine? Maybe he doesn't even live nearby? What if he's married? Will I even have enough nerve to talk to him?

To be continued...

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Your turn!


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