I often sit and just think about what formed “ME”
What led to “ME” . How was I formed? Why do I function the way I do?
I like trying to understand myself as I am sure most people try to. I do it also to become a better writer. I believe if I can get to the root of me then I can get to the root of that character I am trying to develop.
I am big on being “real” with my characters. So many books I have read have stilted unrealistic dialogue action, and plotting just so they can get the character to the next page.
What’s my character?
I remember my father vaguely because he died when I was barely twelve. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about him most was his quiet silence.
I call it a quiet silence because it wasn’t a disgruntled silence or silence that had a point to it. It just was. There was no malice behind it..though perhaps there was a little sadness at times in it. To me it always seemed a calm acceptance at the way things were or had to be.
There were one occasion where I really felt this silence within him.
I was about nine years old and my mom had thrown one of her epic “tantrums” I call them now. Plate throwing, iron skillet flying , cussing, and flinging of insults and telling of all the wrong doings done to her by him, my father. And there my father stood in silence, one hand perhaps slightly raised in defense to any imminent flying object which may come his way. The knot rising like a mountain already on his head of one plate that had connected with his skull.
As my mom often so did when she would get this worked up she would flee. In that fleeing, she would collect up my two brothers and I in a whirlwind and drag us from the house, our home, to stay at a friend’s house, or a hotel far away for a short to extended stay of days or weeks or even months at a time.
My father would sit there in his silence and just let her take us knowing she would return sooner or later, until the next time of course.
But this time had been different.
As I was being tugged out the door by my mother (because I was always the pokey one) my father suddenly reached out and grabbed my other hand and pulled me back.
So there I was, a human piece of rope being tugged by my parents. She pulled then he would pull back….
I remember my father distinctly looking into my scared tear filled face and asking quietly if I wanted to stay with him.
I found my mouth wouldn’t work. I couldn’t talk.. I could say neither “yes” or “no”.
My mother overheard the question and then asked me in a clipped tone if I wanted to.
For some reason I found it in me to answer her…and simply said, “Yes.”
She abruptly released me and left with my other two brothers. Gone.
For the next days or weeks, I really don’t remember, it was just him and I at home. We hung out , we talked in generalities and funny things that only a nine year old boy and a grown man could talk about.
I don’t remember the conversations or any of the activities we did. I do remember being content in that short amount of space and time with him. I saw his contentment as well.
I remember he seemed a little less silent when we were together during that period. And even when he was silent he seemed to carry his silence a little differently when we were together. Lighter , is the only word I can put to it. I had come to realize he had needed me to stay….
I was happy I had said yes…