It’s been a while since I’ve done one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenges. This week’s was to write a story (no more than 1000 words) about “bad parents.” Here’s my go:
Tanya and Jerry Get Away (747 words)
“Look, all I’m asking is that you not swear in front of her so goddamned much!”
Tanya had to shout so Jerry could hear her over the roar of the car’s engine, but Jerry was pretty sure she’d be shouting no matter how fast she was driving. He thought about pointing out her own language slip, just then, but quickly thought better of it. Instead, he craned his neck to look in the back seat. Little Madison was conked out, safely strapped into her car seat and clutching on to Mr. Bunny Rabbit.
“It doesn’t have that much of an effect on her,” he said. “She’s two. She’s a – whaddyacallit – a tabula rasa. Her brain’s still forming. It’s like a new day for her every five seconds.”
“Pretty sure that’s goldfish, Jerry.”
“Okay, so maybe not that often. The point stands.”
“The point,” said Tanya, “is that if she starts pre-school with a potty mouth, it’s gonna make us look like pretty terrible parents.”
“I’m sure she won’t be the first toddler to drop an F-bomb during show and tell.”
“So, you admit she’s listening?”
“I admit nothing,” said Jerry. It was a never-ending argument. Somehow the arrival of a miniature person in their lives meant a complete personality overhaul on his part. No more fart jokes. No more swearing. No more hosting poker night with the boys. No more screaming monkey sex in the middle of the afternoon.
Jerry, on the other hand, thought they owed their child the benefit of seeing the real people behind the parental units. Children, he knew, were remarkable little bullshit detectors, and he would be damned if his kid was going to grow up thinking her parents were a couple of phonies.
“Anyway,” he said, “you coddle her too much.”
Tanya’s eyes narrowed and she floored the accelerator. A wailing sound had begun behind them, and it was picking up in volume. Continue reading