Friday Fiction – Our Parents’ Lives

As a parent, I can splice my life easily – to the time before Sebastian and the time since his arrival. There are other divisions, of course: different homes, schools, jobs, before and after my marriage etc, but the years Before Sebastian seem, in a sense, longer ago than any of those other ages. It’s true what they say – I can hardly remember the time before.

For him, though, I imagine it’s harder still. Even as we grow up and learn of history, both worldly and individual, it’s hard to really comprehend that our parents had lives before we came along, that the world has existed for billions of years and will keep on existing for billions more after we’re gone. We know it, but it’s hard to comprehend. As a small child, I doubt he even knows it yet.

Those are the thoughts I had as my story came to fruition this week. I hope you enjoy it, please feel free to leave honest comments even if you don’t. The prompt is from Georgia Koch – copyright for the photo is hers.

boatpilxr_-antiqued

Our Parents’ Lives

The picture had hung on the wall all his life, so he barely noticed it any more. Venice, he assumed, which was where his parents had been on honeymoon, although he’d never asked and couldn’t recall ever being told.

Someone had already taken it down when he arrived. Aunt Susan perhaps; she’d done the lighter lifting. It was stacked against the wall with others under a note saying “Take or Ebay”. Jack picked it up and ran his fingers across the rough paint. Then his Mum’s unmistakable handwriting on the back of the frame caught his eye.

“Dawn Treader, Narnia.”

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57 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

57 responses to “Friday Fiction – Our Parents’ Lives

  1. This chills me in a good way. How well you portray the story of what a child never knew until it is too late to really ask. We have all those traces of what life had been, but we never really care to understand.

    • Too true, Bjorn. I know many older people are inclined to write memoirs, and I hope their children take the time to read them while there’s still a chance to ask questions. Our lives may not be as unusual as Lucy and Edmund’s, but everyone has a story to tell.

  2. Jen,
    Your story amazes me this week. How did you convey so very much in so few words? The ending sings and the missing information tells us as much as the information you include. Its as though you have mastered negative space in flash fiction. Bravo!

    Marie Gail

  3. Lovely piece Jen. I had the feeling (I could be mistaken) that this piece came easily to you, because it certainly had a flow to it. This is a story that could really blossom in a longer piece. Well done.

    • I’ll admit it did, Sandra. Certainly in terms of length, but also because my parents’ walls had pictures I never really looked at too. The last line was a surprise to me when I reached it, but felt just right.

  4. This is so perfectly crafted. It could also be an addition to the end of the series.

  5. The line “take or ebay” was the zinger for me. My heart cried no!

  6. Both of my parents are gone now and every day I think of things I wish I had asked them.

  7. Dear Jennifer,

    The last line has me smiling. Who’s to say Lucy didn’t have a son? Lovely and imaginative piece.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Who’s to say, indeed? Or maybe mother was being metaphorical. Either way, it’s too late to find out now (without a bit of magic, or another version of the meet up from the Last Battle)

  8. Wonderful. Just wonderful. 🙂

  9. Just “LOVED” it.. you ended it very close to my heart 😀

  10. ahh, perfect. so crisp. easy to visualize everything without effort. superb writing.

  11. Wow! Fascinating take about what we don’t know about our parents and other generations as well. Great sense of mystery and super ending.

  12. Dear Jennifer,

    I know it’s Narnia my business, but you might want to reread your intro. I never read the story in question but I liked your tale.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • First off, Doug: what? GO and read the whole series immediately! They are probably my favourite books of all time.
      Re opening, I found a typo (had for can) is that what you meant?

  13. It is amazing what we all take for granted until it isn’t there any more. I hope he keeps the picture.

  14. Michael B. Fishman

    I don’t know the right word I’m looking for here… there’s a gravity (?) to this story that is very touching and universal. I’ve never read the Narnia books so I had to google the Dawn Treader reference but even not knowing that information, the story is powerful.

  15. Aunt Susan should have known better, but she never was as keen as Lucy, was she? Nicely done. So much I wish my parents and grands had shared.

  16. So nice. I read these books to my daughters at bedtime for SO long. I love how you’ve done this.

  17. I was moved by your story, too. Parents gone too soon, leaving too many unanswered questions…hits too close to home.

  18. I assumed this is the son going back to his parents’s house, so was left wondering what Aunt Susan’s doing in there making decisions. Still, the loss and sadness in the piece came across strongly.

    • I assumed Jack maybe hadn’t been able to do all the house-clearing, so Mum’s surviving sister had helped out by starting off with the ‘lighter lifting’. Hence why she hasn’t made a decision about whether to keep or sell the pictures; she’s just put them ready for Jack to look through. Does that make sense?

  19. You did a wonderful job of packing a lot of emotional depth into this story. I really liked the hats of to the CS Lewis series. Too often we don’t really anything about our parent’s lives prior to our birth. I hope the son will pursue learning more about his mother.

  20. I loved this. It’s so easy to take all those family bits and pieces for granted (and parents!) and not find out about the provenance of things before it’s too late.
    Claire

  21. This piece felt comfortable to me, like putting on a favorite sweater that fits perfect and that you’ll never get rid of no matter how worn and tattered it becomes. I remember going through my parents stuff and discovering things, especially the hand-written journals and recipes Mom kept.

  22. There are so many questions I have had for my mother, since her death. The image of the paintings lined up and ready to be donated, is so spot on. I wrote a blog post recently to my almost adult kids: I was not born your mother, though I was born to be her. I think there is always a bit of mystery for our kids, in our lives before them. Beautifully written.

  23. wonderful! the last sentence gave me the heebie jeebies…and it is so true what you say. The life of our parents starts when our memory begins. All the time before is an unknown land. It ist so easy to “jump” in your story, I was absorbed immediately. Thank yu for sharing!
    Liebe Grüße
    Carmen

  24. Lovely story based on the Narnia books, Jen. They were some of my son’s favorites. I haven’t read the books, but saw the movies and will try to read the books also. Well done as always. 🙂 — Suzanne

  25. faithebear7

    I LOVED the Narnia books as a kid. Still do. Very nicely done.

  26. Pingback: FF – Summer Rerun – Our Parents’ Lives | elmowrites

  27. Lovely last line, great twist.

  28. Brilliant – I missed this the first time around so glad to catch up here.

  29. Ah, I remember this one. The house I was raised in burned in 1988. A lot of the things I took for granted were suddenly taken from me. Painting, photos, the family Bible, and an electric clock that was a shiny black panther. It had Roman numerals and kept perfect time. I’ve not seen one like it before or since. God, I miss that clock.

  30. dawn treader was my favorite of all the books. thanks.

  31. This is a great story! Your protagonist is quite typical in the things he takes for granted, the historical bits and pieces of his parents life that he thought didn’t matter. How wonderfully you bring the point home with the lovely twist ending!

    • Wow, thank you Jan. It would be quite easy to be this narrator, I think. I often hear people talk about how they didn’t get to know Grandparents as well as they might have, but I think it can also be true a step closer down the family tree.

  32. I love the theme and you’ve told the tale brilliantly

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