Day 205 – Stop the Music

Word count: 903

John was a simple teenage boy. He wanted nothing other than to play guitar in his high school band, make it to the top and have lots of fun along the way. He cared nothing of lessons, money or responsibility. Those things were alien to him, and he wished them to remain that way.

It was a Tuesday morning and his exam results where impending via post. All night his mother had stayed away – fretting and ironing, cleaning and scrubbing the oven. John knew this because he too was awake, though not performing any cleaning rituals. It was the summer holidays and he regularly stayed up all night to play computer games, chat to friends and quietly strum his acoustic. That was his life; the complete negative image of his parents. While they woke up and went to work, he laid back in bed and began to sleep. When they came home, he woke up and their dinner was his breakfast. They sort of knew his lifestyle, and they wholly disagreed.

“Such a nice boy,” his mum would reassure everyone, “Going to go far in the world!”

John was a bit sick of hearing his mother harp on to her best friends and neighbours about how well he was doing in school and frequently shied away when she brought him up in conversation. His dad was a bit less intense, but it did not stop him from being irritable. John’s dad wanted him to join his company, work his way up from the bottom and make a man out of him. John’s mum wanted university and some job in London that she didn’t understand the nature of but required a suit.

It was half eight by the time the postman arrived. John heard a smash in the kitchen before his mum screamed his name up the stairs from her usual calling post by the bottom bannister.

“Coming!” John shouted back, though he fully intended to sit and finish killing the character he was fighting in his game first.

Half a minute went by and second call up the stairs was made.

“Coming!” One final blow and the character was dead. John hit pause and stomped downstairs to the kitchen.

Everything was prepared as if it were someone important visiting the house. The kitchen sparkled with disinfectant, but the waft of home baked bread and fresh coffee overwhelmed any residual stench of bleach. The dining table had been made with an armoury of cutlery and plates, side dishes and glasses. In his place, however, was a brown envelope.

His mum urged him to the letter eagerly. From behind him his dad came in, dressed for work but already very late.

“I’ve taken the morning off,” he smiled broadly, “Well then chuck, what are we waiting for?”

His dad’s slapped his shoulders proudly whilst his mum pulled his chair back for him. John sat down and stared at the envelope. He didn’t care at all for the results. He knew how he had done from the exams themselves. Ripping open the envelope, he withdrew several sheets of official paper. Behind him, his mum inhaled sharply. She too, must have seen the array of letters.

“Oh my god,” she breathed. “There must be a mistake.”

“I’ll phone the school,” his dad backed her up.

“No,” John said simply.

They stopped diving towards the phone and turned around.

“But we have to – these are not your results!”

“You’re mother’s right, we have to act fast if you’re to still apply for university.”

“No, mum – dad… these are my results.”

“Don’t be silly!”

“No, they are. I did badly. I know I did badly.”

“But after all that studying in the library you did?” his mother’s voice was weak with worry.

“I never went. I didn’t study.”

“Lydia!” his dad dove to catch his mum as she collapsed.

“Water, water,” he repeated breathlessly as his dad sat her in a chair.

“John, I don’t know what you’re playing at but you will stop it this instance. It’s making your mother ill.”

“I can see that – but I’m serious.”

“It’s that bloody guitar, isn’t it?” His dad said.

“Oh god, all the hours wasted! John what did you think you were doing?!” His mum dissolved into tears.

“Mum, I never wanted to sit these exams. I wanted to leave school a year ago!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about! George, get the guitar… we have to show him…”

“Show me what? Don’t touch my stuff!” John shouted and chased after his dad who was already half way up the stairs. “Dad! Dad! Stop!”

His dad burst into his room and grabbed his acoustic on the bed. John made a grab for it, but his dad threw him back.

“What are you doing, dad? Stop!”

“I’m doing what your mother and I should have done when you bought the bloody thing!” His dad raised his knee into the air and brought the neck of the guitar down onto it, cracking it in two. The strings made a pathetic twanging as the guitar was thrown on the floor and stamped on.

“Dad! I – I -” John was almost in tears.

“You will change schools. You will study. You will not have friends and you will go to university. We shall never speak of this day again, do you understand?”

His dad walked passed him, grabbing his keys and leaving for work.

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~ by S.G. Mark on April 29, 2012.

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