In this weeks edition of Fiction Friday, from Write Anything, we were given the prompt “A boy and his father awaken early to watch the sunrise from their mountain campsite, but they begin to panic when the sky remains dark long into the afternoon”.
At first I was eager to get started, because of all the possibilities, but before long I was seized with an intense case of Analysis Paralysis. There were so many options for the story that I became hung up on where to take it. I put off writing until Thursday (I normally write these on Tuesday or Wednesday when I have more free time) and opted to discovery write the entire story. Walking away from plans made the story come much easier but I hit a wall at the end of the piece.
I’m not happy with the ending and feel as though there is no resolution. I like the story up until it closes out. At that point it feels like it just falls flat on its face. I suppose it is another situation where I could end it, and be happy, but it would require much more story.
Fiction Friday #156 – Failed Sunrise
“A boy and his father awaken early to watch the sunrise from their mountain campsite,
but they begin to panic when the sky remains dark long into the afternoon.”
Harsh white light filled the tent before the earth trembled to the thunderous roar of the sky. Despite its ferocity, the storm was letting up. Rain patted against the nylon and eventually made its way inside the cheap tent.
“Told ya the storm would let up. News said it would be hard and fast but would lead to a weeks worth of clear skies.” Tom’s voice brimmed with pride as he spoke to his young son. This would be their last trip together as man and boy.
“I didn’t know that becoming a man would mean I would almost die as a child”. Chris knew he was overreacting but it nettled his father. With a cocky smile hidden by the darkness, he shifted in his sleeping bag and tried to get some sleep.
“You’ll see, it will be well worth the trouble. The sunrise is magnificent up here on the mountain. My father brought me here on my sixteenth birthday. My grandfather brought my father here, just as the family men have been doing for generations. You just wait and see, you’ll be doing it for your son one day too.” He was becoming annoyed with the boys constant cocky tone but it would soon be over. Just like when he was a boy, spending a night on the mountain to see the sun rise in the distance would make man out of him.
“If this is a family tradition that I have to uphold then I hope I have a bunch of daughters.” He cinched his eyes shut thinking that he may have just crossed the line. His father was a patient and kind man but he had his breaking point. When Chris heard his father sigh in annoyance and roll over in his sleeping bag, he relaxed and eased into sleep.
Chris woke to a pop and footsteps outside the tent. The flickering glow at the far nylon wall told him his father had somehow managed to start a fire. He decided to join him outside. Perhaps the fire would help ward off the chill in his bones from the long night in a damp sleeping bag. His muscled ached and his body protested as he rose and made his way out of the tent.
“Glad you got up on your own, I didn’t want to have to wake you.” Tom was giddy and it was visible from his tone of voice all the way to the way he moved about the campsite. Sixteen years he waited for this moment and it was finally upon them. They would sit and watch the sunrise together and his son would begin manhood in the Thatcher Family manner.
“How long till the sun comes up and we can get out of here. I’m cold, wet, and my entire body hurts.” Chris almost felt bad raining on his fathers parade but it was the mans own fault. He told him over and over again, he was not interested in this family tradition and wanted to skip it.
“Sun comes up in about a half-hour, according to channel six news.” Every facet of the trip was planned out. Tom spent time checking and rechecking the weather, noted sunrise and sunset times, he even brought along the camcorder so that he could share the moment with Clara and the girls.
After a hearty breakfast of crunchy granola bars and lukewarm bottled water was consumed, the pair began their short trek to watch the sunrise. They settled in on a rocky overlook and waited. The sky was clear and the air chilled. Father and son waited eagerly for the sunrise, both for very different reasons. Tom wanted to see his boy begin his life as a man. Chris wanted to get home and tear into the birthday presents that were undoubtedly waiting for him.
The official sunrise time of 5:37am came and went but the sky remained dark. Far in the distance there was a faint red glow, as if the sun attempted to rise but was forcefully held beneath the horizon. Minutes passed, then hours. The pair sat in intense silence as their minds screamed for a logical answer as to why the sun didn’t rise.
“Dad, I can’t do this any more. I’m freaking out, the sun should have came up long ago right?”
“Son, I don’t what what is going on. We’ve sat here long enough, lets get back home to your mother and sisters.”
Father and son made their way back to camp in panic induced haste. There was no logical explanation for what was going on but neither one of them wanted to be up on a mountain looking out at the failed sunrise. If something was wrong, they wanted to be with their family.
Without even realizing it, Chris learned his first lesson of manhood that day. It wasn’t always about him, sometimes it was better to endure a little discomfort to make those around you happy.
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