I get the feeling that this blurb is too... expositiony, not enough description. Too much "this happened and then this happened and then this happened". But I'm notoriously bad at evaluating myself - due to a number of self-esteem issues, I tend to think anything I do is crap and find reasons to justify it. So my question is: is this actually too blunt, or am I overthinking things?
Lance paced the wooden floor in his front hallway, feet and chest bared – the way he usually preferred to be at home. Pants, he had discovered, were non-optional; his wife insisted that he have some sense of propriety and not “live like a heathen”. Susan was a good woman, most of the time. Everyone kept telling Lance how good a woman she was – she “tamed” him, she “made him a better man”, she nursed his wounds and supported his love of martial arts even when she would prefer he stay home and watch Phil. And she had borne him a son – an adorable toddler, curious about the world, growing and changing with every day. There was no question about that – Lance adored his son, and would do almost anything to protect him.
Anything, he had decided, except stay with the mother.
Lance went over the argument once again in his mind, waiting for his father to arrive to have a “serious chat” with him. Susan had told, of course. Lance would have preferred to settle the whole thing quietly but Susan had taken Phil to his parents instead of her own, and the whole thing had come out messily. Lance could only pray she hadn’t told his uncle; the man held Lance’s respect, but he was a gruff man with a weak spot for female tears, and he doubted his uncle would take his side. Nobody would take his side; before Susan, he had been the black sheep, the wayward son. Susan had convinced him to give his parents a chance to get to know the real him; Susan had gone to great lengths to mend the family relationships, to heal the rifts inside him. Susan was a martyr that way.
But even Susan didn’t understand the turmoil inside him now. Neither could deny the rift that had been growing between them; it seemed the more whole and mature Lance became, the colder and more distant their relationship grew. Finally, even Susan couldn’t deny that there was nothing left of the love they had once shared. She had insisted they go to therapy, thinking that by virtue of spending a lot of money, their relationship could be repaired. Lance had asked for a divorce.
The car door slammed to a shut, ringing in Lance’s ears like a gunshot. He was out of time. What would he say? What could he possibly ever say to make this right? He would be lectured, told yet again why he was a selfish prick, unworthy of a good woman’s love, why he shouldn’t let a few bad experiences with exes and sisters and mothers soil his appreciation of women in general, why he should bend over backwards to keep her, until finally he was so dizzy from trying to follow the arguments that he was ordering flowers before he knew it. No, he would have to stand firm. He would politely explain to his father that he was a grown man now, not a small boy, and that he and Susan had reached this decision like mature adults, and he was very sorry if her heart was broken but he couldn’t continue to live out the lie that he loved her and wanted to be married to her. That sounded reasonable enough. And when his father refused to take that answer, he’d yell and scream and throw things and act like such a demon his father would run from the house and cut off all contact and never bother him again. A rueful smile crossed Lance’s lips. If only he was still a rebellious teenager. Life was simpler then.
The knock on the door was firm – three quick raps. His father usually knocked more gently – a bad sign. Mother must have been incensed, reasoned Lance. This was going to be more painful than usual. Wordlessly, he opened the door, meeting the man there in the eye. A shock, a slight thrill, ran through him. Those weren’t the soft blue eyes of his father, wrinkles creasing the edges – the eyes of a patient, understanding man, marred more by smiles and kindness than hardship. These eyes were the same shade, but felt so much darker, just by the intensity of the gaze. This man refused to submit to the wear and tear of time, refused to let age dictate his looks or appearance. Where Lance’s father was like a willow branch, this man was an iron rod. His father’s twin brother. His uncle.
Lance, taken by surprise, lost the argument he had been composing in his head. He couldn’t even remember the beginning of it, or the words of common courtesy that would invite the man he practically worshipped inside. Instead, he stammered out the only thing that occurred to him to be worth saying.
The smile that crossed the older man’s face was more of a smirk – but then, it always was. Years of practice had taught Lance to detect that nearly-invisible note of fondness in his uncle’s eye – he wasn’t laughing at Lance, merely amused by the declaration. Lance’s shoulders slumped a little. He wasn’t mad. That was good, at least. As his uncle opened his mouth to speak, Lance felt as though he might be sick on his shoes with anxiety. What would he say to that? What could he say?
“Tell me something I don’t know.” As Lance started, raising his head in shock, the man rolled his shoulders, stretching slightly. “You going to let me in or we going to stand here all day? Your father’s on his way, figured you might want a hand in case things get rough.”
(posted to my blog here)