I intended on writing a little more tonight on a story I started a while ago or wirte a light blog, but instead my son helped inspire the beginning of a heavy story. I write little pieces like this this one and come back to them later, when I need a bit of a jump start.
Andrea observed silently from the hallway, darkness enveloping her as she watched her husband’s usually proud head dip in defeat, his elbows on his knees to support the weight of the burden that pushed his face into his waiting hands. She felt helpless, unable to give him the support she knew he needed. The distance between them had grown exponentially over the past few months, a chasm widened by a teenage boy who craved the attention of his mother, attacking his father without provocation, a war the boy was winning simply because Andrea and John were already divided before the boy had reached his teenage years. When the bullying began, she watched in silence or chastised if her bewildered husband tried to respond to Eric’s taunts and derision. John was angry, she knew, and she did not want him yelling at their son. Her father had done that to her, to her mother, and she hated it. John was so much like her father. It didn’t matter to her that he tried, was a good father who did his best to provide the proper example, spent time with both of their children in a way her own father had not. Her husband was just going to have to take it.
Lord. Please help us make it through the teenage years. Show John the way.
John could hear Andrea shuffling in the hallway behind him. Why she did that he did not know. All he really needed was a little bit of help, to feel like she wasn’t somehow blaming him for what Eric was doing to him. Didn’t she see what the boy was doing when he went after John? The look of victory was in the boy’s expression. If John responded at all, whether with anger or hurt or reprimand, he would be wrong. It was clear. The boy had won. He was the king. Andrea simply stood behind the boy and shushed John if he tried to say or do anything at all.
That had happened tonight. John was recovering from foot surgery, the foot sore from the stress of walking on it all day, and Eric had cruelly swatted John’s foot off of the couch where he was resting.
“Give up some space, Dad.” Eric grinned at his father as he watched John rub his foot in pain. “Why are you watching that show again? You know Mom doesn’t like you watching it.” Another grin, this time in the direction of Andrea.
The barbs continued, a bullying fueled by teenage rebellion. John could do nothing to stop it. Anything he did would be seen as a fight by Andrea, her refusal to acknowledge Eric’s disrespect obvious. Finally, John had left the room in the hope the distance would appease the angst.
Resignation and isolation swept over John, the burden mixed with the exhaustion of the day taking over. It would feel so good if she quit watching him from the hallway, sat next to him and wrapped her arms around him. That hadn’t happened for years, so long that he couldn’t remember the last time they had touched. Each of them had given up and it showed. Eric saw it. He used the distance, wedged his way in between to push them farther apart.
John turned towards the hallway, too late as Andrea’s footsteps plodded up the stairs to their bedroom.
God, why do I have to stay here? I’m angry, God. Andrea is right about that. Am I going to be wrong if I leave?
John knew the answer to that one.