Statement of intent: Chapter 1 of my novel is based around the theme of control. I intend to use control to show the lack of it Josh has over decisions regarding his future, and the power and control that Josh’s father has over him and his mother.
Tonight we dance. It is energetic and frantic and not at all beautiful. Tonight is not about the music but the rhythm inside of ourselves, the beat of frustration and anger. We cannot hear the drums but our hearts pound in unison as we throw ourselves across the ground. Our boots kick patterns in the dust and tonight, underneath the starry sky, we are protesting to the gods. As the song ends and the energy inside us wanes, we turn back to the truck and lift our groaning bodies inside. There we sit, sweat dripping off our foreheads, our breath short and ragged. I move to put the key in the ignition to drive home but she stops me,
“Don’t. Lets just stay a while.”
And so we sit and stare at the stars in silence as we ponder what went wrong. There is no denying that we can dance. The regional judges told us that we had the potential to make it big, that finding a talent like ours and a partner in each other is a one in a million chance. And yet to dance is to defy every rule, and with each step I take in time with her I put cracks in the delicate glass that is my family. I play football and I play it well, and so did my father and his father before that. Football gets scholarships to all the right colleges, not dance. Football is a sport for men, not dance. And now that it is senior year there is only time for one thing, and that is not a decision I get to make. My partner in a million has been left partner less and our dreams of the national championships have been crushed.
When we finally cruise back to town we do it slowly, as I want to prolong the time it takes before I walk through the door, prolong it to eternity. I drop her outside her house, which is the same as every other house on the street. She is the only drop of individuality on the scene, a lone star on a cloudy night. She slides out of the door as onto the pavement and turns to look at me before closing the door.
“Good luck Josh,” she whispers, and grabs my hand for a brief moment before slipping out into the night.
I reverse out of my driveway and into the street, pass two doors and the pull up outside my own house. I sit in my truck and rest my head against the steering wheel. I want to backtrack in time to when it was just her and I under the vastness of the sky with no one else around. I want to go back and feel the music with my head and my heart, the beat making my feet move in achingly perfect time with hers. In the house a door slams and a light comes on upstairs. I sigh and open my door, and from here my night slips into a predictable routine.
The appearance of perfection that my family strives to achieve is reflected in the layout of my home. My father is sitting on the only piece of beat up furniture in the house, an old armchair that looks out of place beside the gleaming surfaces of the rest of the house. He is, as usual, reading the sports section of the newspaper with a beer placed in front of him. He is still wearing his work clothes, his suit rumpled and tie loosely strung around his neck. He does not look up to acknowledge me when I walk through the door. As is becoming increasingly common in this household, dinner has not been made and my mother is nowhere to be seen. I run up the stairs on light feet and gently ease the door open to my parents room. Every night I do this the pain grabs at my heart and twists it just as hard as it did the first time.
My mother is face down on the bed. Her hair, this morning perfectly curled around her face, hangs in damp, limp threads of gold around her head. She is still wearing the dress she worse to town earlier, her favorite one. Her blood red shoes lie discarded on the floor. I reach under her small frame and lift her up easily; she does not stir. The smell of her perfume mixes with the stagnant stench of alcohol and floods my nostrils. I gently place her face up on the bed, noticing as I do this the fresh bruise blooming on her pale shoulder. It is obviously recent as it is uncovered and yet is already purple and angry, a foreign shape against her golden skin. I bend to place a kiss on her forehead and my tears fall from my chin and onto her hair where they hang, tiny droplets of defeat.
I raise my head and turn to leave and realize my father has been standing in the doorway. He is a tall, hulking figure taking up the entirety of the door frame. His eyes focus on me and they are filled with remorse. I cannot bear to look at him anymore. I lower my shoulder and push past him through the door, my frame matching his except while I am built with muscle, his has melted to fat. I storm across the hallway to my bedroom, the slam of the door echoing into the night.