Town Lake

By: cereed27
Nov. 12, 2018
Average Rating: 3.5

            Walking was one of the very few things the two men knew the other liked. Now, after a mile and a half of small-talk, they also knew that neither would refer to the lake as Lady Bird Lake. It would always be Town Lake. Not that they had anything against the former First Lady and the lake’s newer name – it was just easier to call it “Town Lake.” So they had that, at least.

            “Did you ever go in the lake?” the son asked his father. When the weather was warm, people would go out in kayaks and canoes. But it was a dim December afternoon and the waves clapped with gray spray. Joggers passed the men, bundled in jackets. Neither the father nor the son wore jackets. Though the son had been born in Austin, after the divorce they’d grown used to colder climates.

            “No, not down here” the father answered. “I just jogged around it until it got too hard on my knees. Seven miles, every day.”

            “The water doesn’t look clean anyway.”

            “It’s cleaner upstream,” the father responded. “We all used to go boating up there sometimes. You were probably too young to remember.” The son had a flash, but he wouldn’t call it a memory.

            They stopped to watch workers putting up lights at the Christmas Village. It had been almost forty years since they’d been down to see the lights.

            “Listen,” the father said, turning to his son. “If I ever get to the point where I’m on life support, I want you to pull the plug.”

            The son sighed. He’d always wondered what his parents had seen in each other.

            “You okay?”

            “Yeah. You just start thinking about it.”

            The son reached out and put his hand on his father’s shoulder. “You know, mom said the same thing when I was nine or ten. Almost word-for-word. Now she gets mad because none of the stories I write are ever about happy people with happy endings.”

            His dad looked away with a chuckle that evolved into a belly-borne laugh that ended with coughs. The son smiled. He thought about putting a hand on his dad’s back, but turned instead to watch the men putting up the lights.

            “I wonder what it will look like at night.”

            “It will be beautiful,” his dad replied. “This place has always been beautiful. Even now, so much I remember is gone.”

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Snappy vanilla cookie
SethLaRue rated this work:

Nov. 27, 2018, 7:39 p.m.

It's just that. I like how short it is. Tight, nothing is really wasted. But the writing is a bit cliche. The premise even, of having him say he never writes things with happy endings is almost offensively cliche. But I like the father laughing without much explanation. That's beautiful. So I'm torn. Pretty cool little thing.

Comment Rating: 4.0

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Lovely snapshot
naricorn rated this work:

Dec. 2, 2018, 9:13 p.m.

I love that this is a snapshot of a father/son moment at the lake, the grimness of their conversation contrasting against the hopeful beauty of Christams lights. I enjoy reading and respect flash fiction, but this story felt a bit bare-boned to me. Keeping the piece this short could work, but you might want to pare down some less necessary lines like "the son had a flash, but he wouldn't call it a memory" that are fine but don't advance the story.

Why does the son wonder what his parents saw in each other after his father tells him to pull the plug, if the son goes on to say his mother said the exact same thing? Also, the suggestion to pull the plug really came out of nowhere. I've had someone say this to me in real life, and it definitely did sound out of the blue, but in fiction there are almost always hints. Did the father seem pensive for a bit? Was he looking at anything in particular that triggered the thought?

Overall, lovely, concise prose. Your writing is so clean.

Comment Rating: 5.0

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