English class this year has continued to be awesome and provide many creative opportunities. For this assignment, we were asked to take one of the short stories that we read in class and write what was essentially a prequel by creating one prior significant event in a character’s life that explained their characterization. My story came from Flannery O’ Conner’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. https://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html
“Young man! Come back here right now! I am your mother and you shall not walk away from me!” The Son walked away from his mother. His eyes were red rimmed and pale from crying. His throat dry and cracking from arguing. The early fall weather was already bitter and it hurt his bare nose while the hardened ground hurt his feet. He didn’t ease though. Nothing hurt more than knowing he would never fit in again. He would never again be welcomed home.
Before entering the forest he carefully turned around to see that his mother had followed him. “What do you want?” He spat out angrily. “Just get away from me.”
“You need to come back with me. I’ll be lonely without my two boys at home. I need you to take care of me.”
“Of course it is all about you and what you need. What about me? What about my needs? Have you ever, even for one second, thought about what I need?”
“Yes, I have. You need a mother’s protection, a family, a place to live. You need anything that allows you to fit in.”
“No, don’t you get it? It’s like you don’t even know me. I need freedom. I don’t need anyone telling me how to live. And I certainly don’t need to fit in. I need everyone to know who I am.” Off in the distance dark clouds began to form and a slight rumble of thunder could be heard ever so slightly.
“A storm is coming. Son, please come home with me. We can work through this, please. We can still be a family.”
“No, we can’t. Can’t you see that deep down you will never be able to truly forgive what I did that night?”
“No one has to know that it was you. There is no evidence that you did it. It could be our little secret.”
“Do you ever listen to me? I said that I needed freedom. How would living a life full of terror and secrecy be living my life in freedom? I’ve already killed one car full of people.” The crows and the vultures flew from the trees and began circling overhead. The trees, now filled with many secrets, rustled with the wind of a storm that was quickly approaching.
The mom pulled her jacket tighter around her body. No longer sure if she was trying to protect herself from the weather or her son. Upon instinct, she took one step closer to her son, wanting to shield him from the inevitable. Simultaneously, the son took a step away.
“Please let me help you, my son. It was only an accident. You didn’t want anyone to die. You were just acting young and stupid. You didn’t know any better. Please, just let me – “
“No, that is enough,” he sputtered cutting off his mother. “Stop treating me like a child, Who says that I didn’t know any better? Who says that it was just my curiosity that got the better of me? I knew that shooting at a tire would ruin it and I knew that the noise would spook the driver, possibly making him lose control. That didn’t matter I still did it. It was only an accident when the car moved too far to the left and went over the cliff.”
The son was shaking at this point in his story. His unkept hair flying and whipping all over the place as the wind began to pick up speed with the ever approaching storm. “I guess we should have known that this day would come. When I was little I used to enjoy taking my toy cars and making them crash. Then, as I grew older and began to watch car races, I would silently become ecstatic when the high speed cars collided with the wall. It could be said that I have always liked the destruction of cars and the people inside just never bothered me.”
The mom had tears running down her face at this point. “We thought it was just a phase. You were always such a good son. How could this have happened?” Speaking more to herself than to her son, he decided that if he was leaving now was the time. He turned, ready to enter the forest, then all of a sudden he was overcome with a wave of emotion.
Turning around he ran back to his mother, knelt down besides her and said, “You! You have made me like this. Your inability to listen and understand me. It has hardened me and I will never again fit in. I’ll forever be a misfit. And you be warned, you will hear of me again. It may take years, but one day my intentions will be known, and I’ll be famous.”
Instantly growing cold hearted as well, the woman replied, “So be it. But you listen to me, and you listen well. If you turn around and go into those woods, you will never be my son again. Bailey shall be an only child, forced to wonder what happened to his brother, burdened with taking care of me in my old age. If that is what you want, so be it and go.”
The misfit took his chance and ran. He ran straight into the tall, dark woods. Not once stopping or looking back. The lightening cracked, flooding the sky with light as the heavens opened up. A nearby house, illuminated by the storm, revealed a secret panel. All while the mom of only one son sat and welcomed the rain as a cleansing breath.