|A Line in the Sand
Author: Ireland Ranger PM
Travis is a 7yr old boy in a world where American freedom is a thing of the past. His Grandpa, John Barrett, however is a relic of that time and tell the boy of the Alamo and sacrifice and liberty. Travis learns to love this, mcuh to his parents anger and then when they schedule for Grandpa's 'passing'... COPYRIGHT, DO NOT STEALRated: Fiction T - English - Family/Adventure - Chapters: 4 - Words: 14,553 - Updated: 03-11-13 - Published: 02-21-13 - id: 3103006
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Line in the Sand
Jason Barrett was a man of business and status. He had broad shoulders and a round clean-shaven face. Two hazel eyes that were filled with property and dignity hooded beneath his brows. His dark hair was always brushed neatly back with a stainless steel comb every morning. The trademark black suit marked his position of an important figure in society, completed with blue tie and shiny coal-colored shoes.
His walk was steady and proud, unwavering in his step. He owned a vehicle since he was a man of such importance. It was a finely fashioned speed car, one that lower classed citizens could only ever dream off. Not to mention the shiny metal plate on that back that told the world what type of man he was. '4109' that's what the plate said. And everyone knew that '41' meant that that person was a great one. The higher the number, the more wonderful the person.
Jason's work as a producer for the monitoring management left him well paid and able to lead a luxurious life. His family's rations were plentiful to do his good deeds in helping the government make the world a better place.
The job had been tiring that day, but Jason was not a man to regret helping out his country. He knew that children and people everywhere watched his work with broad happiness. He knew that their bliss and lack of worry was due to the monitors, and for that he was proud. Indeed, he rarely saw his wife and son, but sometimes sacrifices had to be made for the greater good.
His father had taught him that. Though many disagreements had passed between them in the recent years and many tensions had grown. Before, he had listened as the man had preached on about such things as valor, bravery and self-sacrifice. As a child and even in his teen years, Jason had idolized his father and the historical heroes he had been taught about. However, that had been long before the awakening of the American nation and the evolution of ideals towards true freedom. Now Jason knew better. Of course, he kept those things he had been taught in his heart. But he now believed that there was a different way to present them, to use them.
Everything was for the growth and happiness of the newborn America.
Today he would be home earlier than normal. His job had been completed and though he had wished to stay of a pure dedication, his boss had urged him home. He told him that he did more then his fare share and while that was good, he had believed that Jason needed a break. Happy to please, and joyful for the early exclusion, the man had made his way to his car and had left. A fresh feeling of contentment and proud that he had made the government so pleased with his work.
Now he strode up the steps of his glorious home, complete with red bricks and white shutters. A replicate garden flushed beautifully under the glass windows and stone steps to the creamy door. While real gardens had been forbidden by the government for the protection of unwanted plants and poisoned foods growing, Melissa had urged him to buy the plastic plants. They had savoring, sweet smells so strong that it could make one congested. But the lady on the television had said that they were a fascinating sight for all those of class and so he had reluctantly bought them. Melissa had been ecstatic.
Walking through the oak door, Jason set down his briefcase on the tiled floor of the hall and looked into the plush living room. Travis was there, sitting on the fuzzy blue carpet with his bear, rolling it to the toy and then back to himself. His school recording touch pad sat dejected and forgotten on the couch and the flat-screen television imbedded in the wall flustered images and soft humming noises from the almost-muted volume. Mr. Barrett noticed how Travis' back was to the thing, not bothering in the current show and it caused him to frown. Travis never was like other children in that regard.
"Daddy!" The boy shouted with a smile when he glanced up to see who had entered the room. He rushed from his spot on the floor and enveloped the man a fierce hug, his face buried in his father's shirt.
A wave of paternal happiness flooded Jason as he returned the gesture. Regardless of how different his son was, he would always love him.
"Hello Travis, how are you today?" He questioned his grinning child. "Mommy said that you went to the Doctors when she called on the phone. Are you well?"
Travis nodded, tilting head to the side as he released his father.
"He said I'm healthy." The child stated proudly, putting his arms up to prove it. "Davy was good too! I checked him for the Doctor afterward."
"Did you now?" Jason said, rustling his son's hair fondly and looking around the room. Melissa was not present. "Where's your Mother?"
Travis furrowed his brow, wrinkling his nose in thought.
"I think she's in the kitchen." He said, looking over at Davy awaiting the boy's return. "I think she's making dinner. Y'know, 'mom stuff'."
Jason smiled at his son's antics, giving a slight nod. His eyes then flickered over to the discarded school recording pad and he gave a sigh. Tapping the child's chin up so as to meet his brilliant blue eyes, his face then became serious.
"And have you done your work for the day, Travis?" He asked the boy, tilting his head and lifting his eyebrows in question. "You know if you want to grow up to be like me you've got to study."
Travis pursed his lips at the words and frowned, looking down at his bare feet. He dug his small toes into the fuzz of the carpet, while wringing his hands behind his back in nervousness. He knew that his recording's and grades meant a lot to his father, but he never had the patience to sit and do it. Timidly, he peeked his eyes through the golden strands of hair that tumbled over his forehead.
"Travis." Jason berated gently, but in a stern tone. He knew that look all too well. "How much time have you put in this week? Let me see your chart."
The child gave a small sigh, his little shoulders slumping as he turned back towards the couch. Picking up the recording pad in his cream-colored hands, he returned to his father. He paused, biting his lips and looking up at his parent through his lashes.
"Let me see it, Travis." Mr. Barrett stated firmly, extending his hand for the recording pad. A serious and placid look came over his face and the young boy knew that he had no choice, regardless of the outcome.
Closing his jewel-blue eyes, Travis lifted the pad up, squeezing his lids tight as he felt his father take it.
A long silence reined over Father and son as Jason read over the chart. A breath of air escaped the man's lips in disappointment. He supposed that he shouldn't be surprised, though. After all, Travis was only seven years old and his mind wasn't as developed as most childrens' were. His thoughts were considered slow to the physiological doctors and Mr. Barrett was beginning to see this in his son's everyday actions.
"You haven't met your quota, Travis." He spoke in a calm tone, looking at his son, who stood with his head bowed. "You know what that means don't you?"
The child nodded with dejection written all over his young frame. The father heaved a sigh, and looked to the pad again. Eight hours! Only eight hours of monitor education put into the chart. He knew it wasn't a mistake, as much as he wished otherwise. Travis could tell the time on their digital clock, he knew how to count hours and record them. Most children at this age would have at least have twenty-four hours put in for the week. No doubt that the state would be calling on the matter, as last week's chart had been only slightly better.
"M'sorry." Came the soft mumble from Travis, who suddenly found the floor to be as entertaining as one of his Grandpa's stories. His little fingers fiddled with some strings that had come loose on his pants, waiting for his father's response.
Jason knew that he should berate the boy so he would never get such results again. Discipline was something he believed in and the government spoke often of it. But something held him from scolding the child. He loved Travis and the thought of him being unhappy was terrible to the parent. Perhaps he could be light and gentle this time and the boy would comply. Yes, it was too early for stern action.
"It's alright, son." The man said, quirking his lips into a smile as he placed a firm hand on the boy's shoulder. "Just do better next week alright? This is important, Travis for you. How are ever going to be a man if you don't learn?"
That should fix the problem. Travis, like any other child, adored his father and looked up to him. The thought of never being like his father would keep his focus directed to his work. But to his utter confusion, the boy only smiled, his eyes twinkling without worry.
"Like this!" He grabbed his father's hand and gave it the strongest grip he could manage as he shook it. "Grandpa says that shaking hands tells you what kind of man you are. I want to be brave and strong like Grandpa! That's what a real man does!"
Jason's smile abruptly grew small again.
"Indeed." He murmured, patting the boy's cheek absentmindedly. "Well, I think Davy's calling you. Why don't you go see what he wants while I have a talk with Mommy, okay?"
Travis nodded, turning quickly back to his toys. In a few short seconds he was rolling the ball to his bear again, now oblivious of his parent's presence. Mr. Barrett frowned, standing still as he watched his son play happily on the ground. Then he shook his head as if to clear his thoughts and moved towards the kitchen that stood a few rooms away.
He walked through the double glass doors and scanned the room. Melissa was sitting on one of the tall chairs next to their marble bar counter, watching the monitor that hung in the corner. That night's rations were laid neatly out upon the oak table, ready to be consumed. She had obviously prepared for the meal earlier then usual, so as to not miss her evening fashion show later. He noticed her deep brown eyes were glued in concentration to the screen as she watched the news flash up. Her face was serious and the light wrinkles around her eyes were creased sternly.
Wondering at her reaction, Jason also turned his eyes to the television.
A blonde woman dressed in a stiff black suit sat at a desk on the screen. Her hair was bunned and a few curls hung about her oval face. She wore a pasted smile and her green eyes were wide and unblinking as she spoke, her lips abnormally moving with the plastered expression.
"Today we rejoice in our decreased our number of carbon waste by fifty." The lady said as pictures of smiling old people flickered onto the board behind her. "These people have done a great honor to our world by their deed and were happy to be resting at last. Our childrens' futures have now been secured a bit more by their help and you now can share their gift too! Talk to your parents and grandparents about erasing a possible carbon footprint to save the world you know! Our number is..."
The lady went on to ramble a few numbers and Jason watched curiously as his wife scratched the them furiously down on a notepad before her. She then straightened and blew on the wet ink from her pen so as to dry it. She ripped the page from the pad and looked at it with a fixed expression. That was when she noticed her husband standing in the threshold with his brow furrowed.
"Oh! Hello Jason, I didn't see you come in." She folded the paper before her delicate hands with a worried smile. "I hoped that you'd be home early one of these days."
She tried to act dismissive towards her concerns, but Jason's eyes could see right through her curtain. She was upset about something.
"What's the matter Melissa?" Mr. Barrett stated, getting straight to the point. "There's something bothering you. Usually you hope I get a longer day of work so we can move higher in our status. Today you're not babbling and that means you're worried. What is it?"
"It's nothing." She responded dramatically, waving her hand. "Just a little headache."
He narrowed his dark eyes and his wife bit her lip. He studied her expectantly as she rolled her eyes over the fabulously furnished kitchen. He knew that she could feel his gaze on her and therefore he wouldn't let up until he got the information he wanted. He was not easily fooled by her impassive features.
Eventually she let out a soft breath from her mouth and looked blearily up at him.
"It's Travis." Melissa admitted finally, observing the paper in her hands.
Jason raised a brow at that, not understanding.
"What about Travis?" He inquired, moving across the marble floor to stand by his wife's chair. "Is he well? I thought he said that the Doctor cleared him-"
"Physically, yes." Mrs. Barrett cut off with reluctance. "But Doctor Mortal believes that he's been 'influenced'."
Jason cocked his head, his own face now patterned in concern. Anything that could prove harmful to his son instantly put him in an defensive mood.
"What do you mean by 'influenced'?" He demanded. "I know that Travis is behind compared to other children but whatever could have influenced him?"
"Not 'what', but 'whom', Jason." Melissa stated quietly.
Silence reigned for a few moments between the couple. Jason could tell that his spouse was nervous by the way her right eye twitched as she grazed her gaze over the room once again. Normally she was a very confident woman, demanding status and luxury better then what most of her bickering friends had. She never hesitated or fiddled. Therefore when she was uncertain, the signs were as clear as day her her husband.
Taking a breath he looked at her firmly.
"Very well. Tell me who it is." He said.
Melissa absentmindedly began batting the light paper in his hand against the counter top where she leaned forward. Her pulse became suddenly rapid in concern.
"It's Grandpa, Jason." The woman pulled her eyes to the man's in distress. "It's your father and I'm the one who's been taking him there! If I had known that affect it would have had on Travis I never would have-" She trailed off dejectedly, sweeping the floor with her orbs. "He's affecting Travis in a bad way, mentioning things that children nor true adults should ever hear."
Confusion racked Jason's mind then. Whatever was she going on about? His father had never been vulgar or unkind. A bit rough around the edges at times, but never truly harsh. Of course, he did say a few questionable things now and then, but nobody's perfect.
"Explain, Melissa. I don't see how Dad could ever bring any harm on Travis. You know he loves him dearly."
His wife nodded, but her eyes were hard.
"Of course, not intentionally." She said with conviction. "But he's put ideas in my child's head that shouldn't belong! Doctor Mortal says that he lives in the past still, and I know you can't deny that, Jason! The things he's telling Travis are dangerous and could effect his future! Can you ever imagine what people will think when they hear him talk about things like 'The Declaration of Independence'? And-"
"Melissa, you and I both know that Dad likes to tell stories." Jason said, cutting his wife off. "That's all they are. Stories for children. Travis is a child. I heard them as a boy time and time again. While I disagree with what they stand for, they're hardly harmful. There's no reason to be so concerned."
The woman huffed, crossing her arms and giving him a sharp glare.
"They're misleading." She grated, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "They'll put the wrong kind of ideas into our son's head."
At that Jason only snorted, shaking his head with a small smile of amusement.
"Ideas that he'll grow out of! Really Melissa, there's no reason to get your feathers ruffled up about this. You know Dad as well as I do. He lives to entertain. I myself found the tales exciting when I was young, but have I taken them seriously? No. Travis won't be like this forever, he'll grow to realize what is what and that's all I have to say about it."
He turned from his wife to sit at the table when her voice came slicing through the air once again, persisting, urgent and cold as ice.
"If you cared for you son you would think about his future." She hissed, eyes piercing the back of his skull like two laser beams. "No college will accept a boy with such fantasized ideas in his head. Then where will he be? I'll not have any child of mine living poorly, Jason. I deserve better then that sort of humiliation."
Mr. Barrett snapped his gaze back over to her coolly, taking in her straight-backed position, pointed face and unwavering eyes. Her dirty-blonde hair tumbled over her shoulders gracefully, filling out her rounded face. Her rose-colored lips were drawn back tightly in a thin line and her chin was raised in demand. She meant what she had said with every ounce of her being.
"I handled my own in the world, Melissa." He stated, turning back towards her, hands clenching slightly. "Travis will do no different. Let him enjoy the stories, they're not even according to our times. Our son will be fine. I built myself a good place with a fine status, regardless of the stories. They won't hinder him anymore then they did me. You need not fear for him. He'll grown out of it eventually, just as I did."
His last word was unyielding and rooted. He believed every word he said. Often in his childhood his Father had gone on about stories like 'The Alamo', 'Gettysburg' and men like General Patton. He had even named his son after the once famed 'Colonel Travis'. But he had quickly come to realize that reality and prosperity were different in the present time period. He had shed his youthful dreams and had become the man this world required of him. Travis would someday too.
He remembered how wonderful the tales had seemed in his younger years. It had been a glorious world to live in. Battles, victories, tragic stories of sacrifice and glory, oh it had been the highlight of his childhood. And since his fatherly instincts told him to keep Travis happy, he wanted to share joy with him. Since he was rarely home for his son, he didn't see how they could hurt his boy by giving him some light in his place.
"You're really that blind then aren't you?" Melissa's voice cut into his mind like a hot knife and he lifted his gaze to hers. Her lips quivered softly and her eyes were wide."You don't see the harm in this? The turmoil it will cause?"
Jason frowned, looking away from her saddened face to avoid her teary eyes.
"I just want Travis to be happy." He stated finally, his chest deflating. "I know what Grandpa says is off and wrong to our time, but I won't take away the cheer he gives to my son. Seeing Travis smile is all that should matter. I refuse to take that from him."
The the unexpected happened, leaving Jason utterly bewildered and surprised. He watched as Melissa burst into a river of tears, sobbing and sniffing furiously. Instinctively, he rushed over and put a hand on her shoulder to calm her, but she shrugged it off, a wail escaping her throat. Whatever had he said to make her come to such an emotional break?
He tried his best with soothing words and soft apologies, but she only began to cry harder. The sight unnerved the poor man and he was glad that Travis could not hear or see the scene. He scrambled to give her a glass of water, hoping it would calm her down, only to have her sob and look away.
"Melissa...Melissa, what have I done?" The shaken man asked, concern racking his features. "I'm sorry. For whatever it was I did, I'm sorry. Please, love, don't let Travis hear you."
"Why ever not?" She blurted out, looking accusingly up at him. "Why can't he see me this way?"
Jason's lips tipped downward.
"A child should never see his mother cry." He bowed his head slightly, looking at the glass in his hands.
"Oh, I see!" His wife responded, her voice venomous and hissing like a tiger's. "A boy can be misdirected with untruths but isn't allowed to see his own mother shed a real tear! What hypocrisy is this?"
Her demanding voice racked Jason to the core, his eyes widening at her accusation.
Once again the room grew quiet. The gentle hum of the TV making the only sound throughout the kitchen. Jason fixed his eyes on the counter, his thoughts jumbled and racing. He was unsure how to respond, how to calm the woman he loved. Perhaps she did have a point? Maybe he hadn't paid her enough mind. Maybe he hadn't tried to look at things from her point a view. What if he was truly the wrong one? After all, she knew Travis better then he did and maybe the failing grades his son had was indeed proof.
He glanced a Melissa from the corner of his eye. His wife sat fidgeting with the paper in her hands uncomfortably, one hand wiping the traces of tears from her eyes. Suddenly, Jason found his former determined self so unsure of the situation.
What if Melissa was right?
"Well." He finally stated, eyes looking to her. "What will you have me do then? He is my father after all. Maybe I'll talk to Dad about it, ask him to cool down on the stories he tells Travis."
He heard Melissa sigh, closing her lids as she stood up and slowly made her way towards her husband. She opened them again as she drew near to him and her face became one of pleading and desolation.
"You know it won't be enough." She said quietly, her voice slightly raw from her emotional burst. "Your Father won't listen, he never has."
"Well what do you expect? Do you want me to separate them?" Jason stated, his eyes hardening a bit. "I can't not take Travis to see him anymore, Melissa. He won't stop begging to see him again. No, it will only make things worse."
"You can do what others have done." His wife said, her voice calm and trembling. "You can help the world be a better place and at the same time help our son."
Mr. Barrett watched her warily, not liking the weary expression of determination she now wore.
"And how can I do that?" He demanded. "I don't have many choices."
Melissa's eyes glued on his. He watched as she lifted a quivering hand and slipped it into one of his. He felt the slip of paper that she had been writing on while watching the monitor. He lifted his head up a little, eying her as he digested her suggestion.
"You can make your father know real happiness. Make him understand that it needs to be done for Travis."
"Melissa I -" Jason began, before she silenced him with a finger to his lips.
"Make him understand that he can help Travis and the world. And if he's too confused, then we may have to show him true joy ourselves."
With that she drew away, watching him intensely. Slowly, he broke her gaze and looked down at his hand, uncurling his fingers from around the paper. Carefully, he unfolded the piece and stared at the contents as if unsure.
'Contact The Sunshine Eco Resolution Center to schedule the removal of a carbon footprint...'
Jason slowly returned his eyes to Melissa's sincere ones.
"He's my father, Melissa, I can't..." He trailed off, shaking his head in denial. "This can't be the only solution."
"It is, and you know it." She replied, wrapping her arms around him in a hug. "For Travis." She said seriously. "We have to do this. Remember, it's for Travis."
Silence passed as flashes of memories passed before Jason's eyes. One moment he was playing soldiers with his dad, the next they were panning out pretend maps and trying to outsmart an imaginary enemy. They had always been victorious, they had always won. Had it really effected his life so much that he couldn't move on? Did he really want Travis to be tied down to the past like he was?
Finally, reluctantly, his also nodded. He then slowly reached into his pants pocket and pulling out his cell phone. His hand shivered and became sweaty as he held the device. Looking at the paper, he dialed the number Melissa had written down and brought the cell to his ear. The other line rang and he breathed, etching in his mind that this was the right thing to do. It was for Travis.
But just as the some one picked up on the other end he felt a twang of uncertainty.
Was it the right thing?