I’ve been reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories. One of the characteristics of his writing is the lack of action. Many of them are just glimpses into the lives of his characters. Maybe even just one scene. This piece of short fiction is inspired by Carver’s style of writing.
Thick As a Brick
Wesley hoisted his suitcase into the trunk of his old Chevy Malibu. His disapproving parents watched glumly from the sagging front porch of their clapboard house.
“It’s not too late to change your mind, son,” his father said. “Don’t be fool, will ya?”
“I’m not changing my mind,” Wesley stated, slamming the trunk lid closed. He sighed heavily and walked over to stare up at them on the top step. “I can’t let an opportunity like this one pass me by.”
“Fancy scholarship ain’t gonna pay for everything,” his mother muttered under her breath.
Wesley sighed again and looked at the ground. “Ma, I have a part time job lined up. I’ll be fine.”
“Sure and then ya be workin’ so hard ya won’t get no studyin’ done. Then what?” she snapped. “Ya lose that money and you’ll be back here on the farm anyways.” She spat on the ground. “Waste a time, ya ask me.”
“Ma, my job is at the chem lab. It’ll actually help with my studies. You’re worrying for nothing.”
“Leave him be, Sarah. Ain’t no use talkin’ to a fool,” his father chimed in. “He got some illusions of grander. Think he’s too good for his kin.”
“Delusions of grandeur,” Wesley mumbled.
“Don’t you mock me, boy,” his father said, wagging a finger at him. “I’m gonna remind ya of this very day when it all goes to hell.”
“Pa, it’s not going to hell. I’ve worked hard, I’ve studied harder, I’ve got a right to pursue my dreams. I’m not asking you for a thing, except to give me your blessing,” Wesley pleaded.
“Well, ya ain’t gettin’ my blessing on this nonsense,” his mother said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “But… I’ll give ya this.” She gestured over her shoulder. “This’ll always be your home. You come on home if you come to your senses.”
This was probably the most he could hope for, Wesley realized. He nodded. “All right. Thanks, Ma.”
He went up the steps and gave each of his parents a hug, then turned back to the car. With a final wave, he drove down the old dirt track that led out to the main road. His parents watched till he was out of sight. Wesley’s father said, “Seems to me for a smart boy, our Wesley is thick as a brick.”