A/N: OK so today I reread this story (I wrote it a year ago and posted it a few weeks ago) and really, just groaned the whole time. Now I really know why there were reviews telling me to show instead of tell. So I decided to edit it a bit and I really hope now it's better :)


The Art College

Grace Ding

Josh found himself shaking with excitement when he heard the slam of the front door. His father Dillon was back from work at last. He felt his stomach turn as he looked at the clock and realized it was past midnight. Did Dillon always come home so late? He wouldn't know because he was usually sleeping soundly at this time. And in the rare times when he was up, he'd always be working on a new sketch and obviously wouldn't bother to lift his head up and check the clock, let alone walk all the way down the stairs. But today was different. Josh had great news to tell.

Before Dillon could get to his room, Josh flew down the stairs two at a time and hugged his father tight. He was both nervous and psyched about what he was going to tell his father so he didn't even notice Dillon's arms hanging awkwardly at his side.

"Hey Dad," Josh exclaimed casually like his father was an old friend.

Of course, this was not how Josh usually greeted his father, if he even greeted him at all. So naturally Dillon felt uncomfortable, seeing as a friendly embrace was something he hadn't exchanged with his son since he was twelve. But his curiosity got the better of him and he decided to play along.

"Hi Josh, what's with all the excitement -"

But before Dillon had the time to finish his question though, Josh thrust a big white envelope into his father's hands.

"Open it," instructed Josh.

Dillon looked at his son inquisitively but did as he was told.

With every tear of the envelope, one could see Dillon's muscles twitching, and it didn't take a genius to figure out that he was doing this reluctantly. But Josh, of course didn't notice that, seeing as his heart was pounding so hard he thought the family living next door could hear it.

When Dillon finally tore the whole thing open and took out the contents, Josh saw himself shifting the weight on his feet around every two seconds. And when he tried to steady himself by gripping the edge of the table, he realized his fingers were trembling as well. But despite his son's blatant nervousness and discomfort, Dillon held a calm and very serious expression as he squinted at the first page, seemingly having no clue what the letter was about. He flipped through the pages silently, and then set it down on the table lightly as if it would trigger some kind of hidden bomb lying beneath it. Then, as Josh watched with a baffled expression, Dillon's face changed and a smirk began to form on his face. But before the smirk could reach his eyes, his face changed again and it seemed like he settled for plain amusement. By then, Josh had already settled down on the couch next to the kitchen and gazed questioningly at his father. To his puzzlement, Dillon started performing his normal routine. He looked through the cupboard, took out some snacks and reached for a magazine. For two minutes, Dillon acted as if there was nobody but him in the room.

Finally, Josh broke the silence and asked in a concerned voice, "Dad?"

Dillon closed his magazine, put a hand on it and turned to look at his son. "Yeah?" he replied before suddenly starting to laugh like crazy. Dillon looked at his son again and started laughing even harder. Then out of nowhere, Josh's dog Stella started barking as insanely as Dillon.

"Are you okay? Do I need to call a doctor? Is it too much stress from work?" asked Josh with genuine regard for the health of his father.

Dillon looked disapprovingly at his son and shook his head as if what Josh had said was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard. "Son, do you actually think I'll let you go to that damn art college? RISD, is it?" He gave himself a few seconds to recover from his laughing fit before speaking in a manner that made Josh know his father was dead serious.

Dillon's voice was barely audible with Stella barking. But somehow, Josh heard every single word in that sentence with extreme clarity. So he stood up and walked slowly to the table where Dillon was sitting, legs crossed casually.

"What?" whispered Josh, with a frown on his face.

"Manners, Josh. It's pardon, not what. I said, do you actually think I'll let you go to that damn art school? If you do, it proves that you're even more stupid than I thought."

"What?" That one syllable barely escaped Josh's lips before he stumbled back to the couch and fell head first in the cushions. Josh's head was swirling and all he could hear was his father's laughter, over and over again, like a curse in his head.

Dillon walked slowly over to Josh and sat down at the edge of the couch, still wearing that amused expression.

"Dad, this is not funny. You are lying, aren't you?" murmured Josh, turning over, sitting up and trying very hard not to believe his ears. He did not succeed one bit.

"Oh, my dear son, I thought we agreed never to lie to each other. Or did you already break that promise."

And when Josh thought about it, yes, it was true, they did agree. Five years after the tragic car accident when Josh's mother died, when Josh was nine, he and Dillon did make a promise not to lie to each other ever. And as far as Josh knew, they never did, so why did he think that Dillon was lying right now? There was no point in Dillon lying about this. When Josh turned twelve he had gotten tired of his father always fussing over him and had decided he no longer needed him. He had then asked Dillon to not protect him anymore and not care for him either. And from then on, they had barely ever talked and probably knew nothing about each other's lives. Josh was always busy with his art, and Dillon was always at work, just earning enough for the two to live with. Josh taken their finance situation into consideration when he applied for RISD, and he'd been overjoyed when he received the scholarship he applied for. Josh thought that his father would be happy that he didn't have to pay for his college. But obviously, he was proven wrong.

After another minute of silence, when Josh was thinking about this promise they both made, Dillon spoke again, "Do you remember, Josh, on the day of your 12th birthday, you told me you were getting tired of me and we agreed that I would leave you alone and you could do whatever you want during your free time as long as I'd get a say in what college you're going to and what you are going to major in that college?"

That was also true, and Josh did remember. But Josh had never thought of that as a problem. Each year on his birthday, Dillon would remind him of the promise they had made. Josh had never had any second thoughts on that matter, ever. He had assumed that Dillon approved of his great knack for art, seeing as he had never said anything negative about how he spends all his time locked in his little room, drawing. Well, that was part of the promise, Josh thought now.

"Yeah, okay, I see you do remember. Well," continued Dillon, "I'm not going to approve of your strange little whim about going to this RISD."

Josh stood up, appearing calm, but on the inside, he was bursting with anger. "It's not a whim! And why shouldn't I go to RISD? Give me one reason. I got a full scholarship and you don't have to worry about me at all. So why not?" Suddenly, Josh stood up and walked towards his father, towards the kitchen table. He just couldn't suppress his anger any more, he deserved to know the truth.

"Well, first of all, art is useless. Art can't do anything, can't get you anywhere. What's the point of art? You can't even make a living out of it. All the artists out there are living on their pensions," replied Dillon, emphasizing the last word as if that what he said were the most obvious things in the world. Then seeing that Josh stood up, Dillon pushed his chair back, rose from his chair and turned to face Josh. Now the two men's faces were only centimeters apart, both staring into the other's eyes, neither one of them flinching. For the first time, Dillon realized how big and strong his son had become.

"If you thought so, Dad, why didn't you say so before, when I spent all my time doing art?" replied Josh quietly with a hurt expression on his face. He backed up a bit and stared at a blue tile in the kitchen that seemed a bit out of place, just like me, he thought. But a second later, the anger returned and he pushed forwards so his face was once again nearly touching his father's. "Why didn't you? Huh? Is this what you wanted to do all along? Act indifferent about my dreams and then squash them in one instance? Oh, and pretty much killing me in the process?" suddenly Josh rose his voice, one thing that he had never done before to anyone, let alone his own father.

"Is not letting you go to RISD killing you? Oh, well, Josh I never knew art was that important to you! You are really rather unintelligent. And you know I'm not one to easily break a promise. I promised I would leave you alone, so I did, even though each time I saw your artwork I wanted to kick you," sighed Dillon.

Josh was not convinced at all, so he yelled, "Well, would you rather me not go to university at all?"

"As a matter of fact, I would," replied Dillon without hesitating even a second. He calmed himself a bit as he said evenly. "University is not the most important thing in the world, you know. Lots of people survive without university. Get a job, earn some money, you can live in this world without university Josh."

"Oh yeah, I so totally didn't expect you to say that," Josh said sarcastically while putting on a gigantic grin. "But you know what, Dad, I'm eighteen and I don't give a damn about what you say. Let's just forget all about this, ah, shall I say, very interesting conversation we had today. I'm going to RISD no matter what you say. And if you never look at me again," Josh shrugged. "So be it."

This time it was Dillon who was speechless. Looking at his son smirking at him, Dillon really didn't know what to say. He couldn't help but think helplessly, like father, like son. But he pushed that thought away and finally, he uttered a single word, "Fine." And then, using all his energy, he dragged himself up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door shut, leaving Josh staring at his feet in the middle of the living room, wondering if he had made the right decision and if he had actually meant all that he said to his father.