This was one of about 1,100 stories submitted to Writer’s Digest for Your Story #17. The prompt: “A 20-something man sits in a taxi in front of his parents’ house, trying to find the strength to tell them that he (fill in the blank).”
An earlier post about the musician with cancer was a version I wrote but decided not to send. Below is the version I sent. This, alas, didn’t make their cut down to five. Maybe it could’ve used more interaction with the cabbie, who knows.
Trying to Tell My Parents I’m Marrying a Divorced Mother
By Richard Zowie
“Don’t worry, baby, the worst thing they can do is refuse to answer the door,” Rebecca said.
“Or call the police,” I joked, trying to masquerade my nervousness. Reaching into my wallet, I gave the cab driver forty dollars for the fare and a $10 bill to wait.
Rebecca, her daughter Veronica and I sat in the taxi, comforted perhaps by the new-car smell. We’d ridden from the San Antonio International Airport north to Bulverde, where my parents live. Their house, where I grew up, is in an upscale subdivision, one with many centuries-old oak and pecan trees and a golf course nearby. We sat at the curb, to our right my parents’ three-story beige brick house with navy trim. Behind the front screen door I could see the front door was open; my parents never leave it open when they’re not home.
I took a deep breath and suggested we all pray before going in. Telling my parents Rebecca and I were getting married was difficult since they wouldn’t answer any phone calls, e-mails or letters. Next step was to tell them in person.
At 26, I was the family’s black sheep. I grew up in a wealthy home and was expected to become a doctor like my father and marry a beautiful girl from a well-connected family. The problem was, while I earned all A’s in math and science in high school, I never wanted to be a doctor. I rarely saw my father, and whenever I did, he always seemed so cold and humorless, as if I or my sister were just another inconvenience for him. Besides that, the doctor’s life-being on call, making rounds, and breaking the news to someone that their loved one had died in surgery-didn’t appeal to me.
Being a writer did. Creating new worlds, new characters and new plots thrilled me. While I was a teenager, my parents hoped to get this out of my system through the “harmless diversion” of a month-long summer creative writing camp. They were, obviously, very unhappy when I still changed my college major to English after one semester. They also were upset when I became a Christian while attending a campus Bible study. (My mother’s a nominal Presbyterian while my father, an apatheist, has always maintained he doesn’t know whether God or any deity exists and has no interest in finding out).
After college, I became a journalist while writing fiction during my free time. To make matters worse, I ended up far from home as a reporter for The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Michigan.
And as I went to church and attended Sunday School, I met Rebecca.
She had an incredible smile that lightened up her mysterious, blue-gray-green eyes and an inquisitive nature that never seemed to tire from knowledge. Discussions about the Bible turned into friendly chats which turned into a date. After a year of dating and falling deeper into love, I asked her to marry me.
When I told my parents about her, my mother hung up the phone. I later learned from my older sister, Amber, that she’d sobbed for two hours about how I’d ruined my and their lives. Rebecca’s from a blue-collar family, she never went to college (though she makes a decent living as a cake decorator) and she’s divorced with a daughter-not the daughter-in-law pedigree to boast about at the country club. Amber, who’d married a cardiologist, sounded worried as she called me a few weeks ago and told me Dad was considering cutting me out of his will to make me break up with Rebecca.
When she finished praying, Rebecca looked at me and smiled. “No matter what happens, Kevin, just remember it’s in the Lord’s hands,” she said.
If only my parents would meet Rebecca and Veronica, they’d see how wonderful they are, I thought.
We were just about to get out of the cab when I saw Marcela, my parents’ longtime maid, jogging toward us. From her somber expression, she was now a reluctant intermediary. Marcela tried to smile but instead sadly shook her head.
“Your parents have nothing to say to you, Kevin,” she said. “They said that as long as this woman and her daughter are in your life, you’re dead to them and are no longer their son.”
No use trying to talk to them, I realized. I nodded to Marcela and gave the cabbie another $40 to drive back to the airport.
Copyright © 2009, Richard Zowie. All rights reserved. Do not republish without permission.