Main Character(s): Chris, Vin
Future Little Britches Universe
The good thing about time was that it never stopped flowing. There was and is no pause button that would sustain this moment for eternity. Time keeps flowing. Time keeps flowing. Time keeps flowing, Chris muttered to himself. And thank God for that.
Once more he drummed his fingers against the steering wheel of his car and gritted his teeth in frustration. He resisted the urge to join the loud choruses of horns. He resisted the urge to roll down his window and release as many expletives as he could. He resisted because dammit, time keeps flowing. Sooner or later he would be out of rush hour traffic and sitting in a darkened elementary school theater. He'd be front and center just like he promised, with the video camera rolling, completely not what he promised. He would cheer the loudest and clap the hardest. He would say good job even if the notes were off-key and the words wrong. And dammit, he would be there on time.
Chris still remembered with much pride, and, admittedly, surprise, when Vin came home one day and told him he'd been cast in the school's Fall musical. His Vin, his quiet, unassuming Vin. In a musical. A public performance.
He'd grinned, the corners of his mouth almost reaching his eyes. He'd hugged, lifting the slight boy off the ground. His Vin.
And, boy, was he even more surprised to learn that his Vin could carry a tune. Things you learn about your kids.
The good thing about time was that it never stopped flowing. Sooner or later he would be in the seat Buck saved him. Sooner or later he would look straight into Vin's blue eyes as he sang the opening lines and he would let Vin know just how proud he was. Damn traffic.
"It's like that musical Annie, tomorrow's always a day away," Chris said, with one hand on Vin's shoulder and the other on JD's. Removing his hands, he knew for an absolute fact, would just release the boys back into their state of frenzied excitement.
"But it's tomorroooooooooow," JD whined. "That's sooooo loooooong awaaaaay." He wriggled out of Chris' grasp and proceeded to demonstrate just how far away tomorrow was by stretching his arms wide and jumping up and down, the pitch of his voice oscillating with each jump.
"That's 11 hours and 15 minutes away," Vin stated accusingly. As if the length of time remaining was wholly Chris' fault. And his teacher tries to tell me he's bad at math, Chris thought. Desperately, Chris glanced toward Buck, hoping against all hope for some reinforcement.
"Nuh uh, I said I'd pack for the trip and you said you'd get them to bed," Buck replied, guffawing as he shoved another bag of trail mix into the pack. "I distinctly remember you saying how you got the better bargain."
"Now look here," Chris tried again. Clearly multiple laps around the house, warm milk, and a bath was insufficient to calm the boys down. Neither was the Angry Chris approach, or the Calm and Understanding Chris approach, or the Help Chris Stay Sane approach. "Time is not going to stop just because you go to bed. In fact, it'll probably go faster if you go to bed. And before you know it, you'll wake up and it'll be tomorrow and we'll be off camping."
"That's not true. Time is constant so no matter what we do we still have 675 minutes left," Vin stated disapprovingly. He was too old to be lied to. His teacher is worried about his learning abilities? Really?
"Now now now now now now now now now now now nownownownownownownownooooooow," JD howled.
"No no no no and no!" Chris warned the 15-year-old in front of him. Just when did he get so tall?
Vin was livid. Chris was bordering on explosive. Buck and JD were strangely no where to be found.
"It's a video party. We're just watching old Westerns. What the heck do you think we're doing?"
"Just old Westerns. Are you telling me that a group of 9th grade boys get together without parental supervision and all they do is just watch old Westerns?"
"YES! You never trust me!" And with that Vin left the discussion, slammed his room door and was not heard from for the rest of the night. Oh thank God time doesn't stop. He can't be an angry teen forever. He'll be out of this phase in no time. Chris rubbed his tired eyes and aching knee. I hope.
The thing about time is that no matter what, or how, or for whom, time keeps on flowing. Unfortunately.
Here he was in a suit decades out of fashion, under a hot sun, uselessly fanning himself with his hand. Next to him, JD shifted in his seat, tugging at the uncomfortably snug tie he'd been forced to wear. Buck, two seats over, had long ago let his eyes wander over to the rather well endowed brunette sitting a couple of chairs down. She didn't seem too hot. Heat wise, of course.
Here Chris was with a program in his hand made out of over priced paper and adorned with a fancy script proclaiming "Congratulations Class of 2019." A program that told him the principle was slated to speak for at least another ten minutes, that after his long winded speech was the valedictorian's long-winded speech.
But he wouldn't mind that speech as much. Even though he had heard it rehearsed at least a hundred times and knew by heart where every period, comma, exclamation was.
It's funny how much more you'd tolerate when something came from your son. His son. His Vin.
The unfortunate thing about time is that it never stops and once it's gone, it's gone forever. Never again would Chris be woken up in the middle of the night by Vin crawling into his bed. He'd never have to give another bath, always finding himself just as wet as the person in the tub. Gone were the days when he would have piles upon piles of crayon drawings to hang on the fridge, or little notes with the words 'I love you, pa' unexpectedly turning up in his briefcase. No more Vin-calls at work telling Chris that JD and he really really, honest and honester, didn't mean to break it. No more staying up late into the night rubbing Vin's back as he threw up for the umpteenth time. No more toothy grins and chocolate covered mouths.
"... Thank you... let us welcome on stage..." Chris looked up and saw the almost-man standing confidently in front of the podium. Chris saw Vin shuffle the notes in front of him, but really, he didn't need them. He knew Vin was studying his audience, and hopefully realizing just how much he had achieved since his days living in a makeshift home.
Chris felt his chest inflate just a little more. That's my boy.
Then he realized that underneath the ironed black gown, Vin was wearing a shirt from his floor since he'd forgotten to do his laundry again. Well, that's my boy.
He watched with pride as the audience responded to Vin's speech, laughing at his jokes, clapping at his words. Vin always had a way with words. They didn't know the eloquent 17-year-old in front of them was the same boy who had spent months struggling to learn how to read. Who had refused to wear anything but his cowboy pants for one whole week. The same pre-teen who'd sulked around the house for a month because he couldn't figure out just how to get a girl.
The thing about time is that once it's gone, it's gone.
"... and last but not least, thank you old man." Chris caught Vin's eyes and returned his grin. He watched as Vin dipped his head slightly, their secret version of a high five. He watched as Vin shook the principle's hand and sat back down, almost sinking into the chair with relief that the very public speech was over.
Chris watched it all and took it in. The thing about time is there actually was a pause button. That in Chris' memories, he could make this moment last forever.
The thing about time is that it keeps on flowing. Tomorrow would be another day and there was always more to come. Soon Vin would be off to college and maybe he'd meet the girl of his dreams. Maybe they would settle down and maybe Buck and Chris would be recruited for babysitting duties.
All maybes, so many possibilities. That was the good thing about time, it kept on flowing. But for today, for this moment, Chris watched his almost-man walk proudly across the stage and he hit pause.