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The Stubborn Old Man
About an old man and his daughter who wants to leave. Wrote it for classwork back in 1994.
Avid European football fan who loves Juventus, Real Madrid, Italy, Spain, Holland, Alex Del Piero and Raul Gonzalez (and other things included)
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (3)
Kate & Louis (Short Stories) I don't know how best to describe this story, except that it's a romance. So I've put the names of the main protagonists as the title. [8,062 words] [Romance]
Kelly's Neighbour (Short Stories) - [535 words]
Personal Trauma -- An Unwilling Spectator (Essays) Can't really describe what this piece is about, except that it was, for me, a very disturbing and traumatic experience, even if I didn't really see it with my own eyes. Hearing it was bad enough. [1,234 words]
The Stubborn Old Man
Exasperation lined her face. She knelt down and put her hands on his laps.
“Please, Papa. I’ve been trying to make you understand for the past hour, and you still don’t get the picture.”
The old man looked strangely at his daughter, his eyes hooded. His face was shut, devoid of any expression as he continued to stare, and she continued to fret.
She tried again. “Papa, Andrew and I have to move away from here. We do want you, but you don’t want to leave.”
That approach worked. His eyes flickered slightly and his knees shifted. Her hands dropped away, and her face held a disappointed expression. She got up, smoothed her skirt, and flounced into the house.
Out on the verandah, the old man sat alone, staring at the almost darkened sky. The earlier conversation with his daughter came flooding into his mind, as his eyes swept across the horizon.
“Robin, I don’t understand why you have to move away. What is so bad about here? There’re neighbours nearby, the scenery is beautiful and everything looks so wonderful –-"
His daughter cut in impatiently. “Yes, I know. But Papa, have you ever thought that Andrew can never remain a farmer for life? He needs job opportunities, and he has found one. We’re moving for a better future, Papa. A move like this will do all of us good. Andrew, me, you, the kids ……”
The old man scowled at his only daughter. “You think of everything, don’t you?” he spat sarcastically. “You think only of your husband, your family. This place was your mother’s hometown, the place where you grew up. How can you bear to leave it?”
Robin glared at her father as he settled into an old wickery chair, his hands clasped tightly, his shoulders trembling with rage. Her father was always hard to reason with. You’re a bigot, she told him silently. You only care about yourself.
She decided to try a softer approach. Perhaps a softer tone used would move her father and break his steel resolve. She bent towards him. Softly, in a more gentle voice, she begged the old man to see from her point of view. Andrew (Robin’s husband) could never remain as a farmer for life. He did not even want to, in the first place. Could he at least have a chance to broaden his views, and gain more experience? Moving to the city was such a suitable choice for one in Andrew’s position.
The old man looked sharply at Robin. In one word, he dashed all her hopes of ever convincing him. “Enough!”
Despair showed clearly in his daughter’s face. Robin’s blue eyes almost filled with tears. Oh, he was a so stubborn man! For Andrew’s sake, for her kids’ good, for everybody’s welfare, she tried again. She used every method she could think of. Persuasion did no good. Coaxing led to another dead end. Robin gave up and flounced into the house…
The old man shifted slightly as Robin came out, ready to leave with suitcases and all. A rumbling truck came roaring up the man-made drive-way, and Robin saw Andrew’s carrot-red hair flying in the wind. She knelt down and clasped her father’s hands into her own. The old man showed absolutely no sign of emotion, nor did he give any show of relenting to his daughter. As far as he was concerned, he was staying put and nobody would make him leave.
Robin’s rueful look made Andrew a little sorry for his wife. He shrugged as he jumped from the truck and ran to help her with the suitcases. By the time Robin was ready to leave, the stars had already come out.
She pressed something into the old man’s hands and he looked down to see the wedding band that Robin’s mother had always worn. Robin gave her father one last regretful look and turned away to join Andrew. The truck went roaring off into the night, Robin crying by her husband’s side.
The old man clutched the wedding band fiercely, as if he was afraid someone might snatch away his daughter’s parting gift. His shoulders shook and he wondered whether he was wrong in trying to keep Andrew and Robin from leaving. Had he been wrong?
Long after everyone had gone to bed, the old man still sat in his wickery chair, fingering the wedding band with affection. Maybe, just maybe, Robin may come back and patch up with him, and they would all be happy again, never leaving one another? Just maybe…
The old man sat out on the verandah, watching as the first light broke in the sky.
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© 1994 Roxanne Kendrick
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