Sundays had long been ordinary and routine, almost melancholic. A day of gimmicky rituals he had long tried to escape. Like church because he didn’t necessarily believe. Or the weekly family dinners, where conversations around the table made him doubt his worth and cement his place as an outsider. The runt. Or ransacking his grandmother’s bedroom, while she was still alive, for the bottles of scotch and gin she tried to hide. This Sunday was anything but ordinary or routine. Certainly not melancholic. This Sunday courted new beginnings, where repressed desires would be allowed to unfurl and peel away a season of nerves. This Sunday had the power to transform him and his life.
If he could be daring and bold.
If he could let himself believe in something.
If his mother could let him go.
Scott Davenport, standing on the sidewalk near the back of the silver Land Rover, rolled his eyes. “Yes, Mama, I’m listening.”
“Don’t you roll your eyes at me,” Margaret Davenport said, and started rummaging through her shopping bag-size purse. She pulled out a crumpled tissue and dabbed it at her moist eyes. “Promise me you’ll call. At least once a week. And don’t forget to eat…”
As his mother slipped into her lecturing teacher’s voice, Scott was already daydreaming about the new world that awaited him. Eighteen or soon-to-be, he was in a new city that he would willingly give himself over to, let it claim him, set in motion the transformation from boy to man. All he needed was for his parents to get into their car and drive away. Then he would be on his own at last, and free to do as he pleased. And he had big plans for his freedom. The snapping of fingers brought him out of his dream-state.
“You’re not even listening,” Margaret chided.
“I am —”
“Then what did I say?”
Scott shrugged and dropped his gaze. Probably something about Jesus being a protector from the devil running rampant in the world. She’s always going on about Jesus and His healing power, and the good things He’s done for her. He lifted his head. “God, er, Jesus … that I should let Him —”
“So you weren’t listening,” Margaret interrupted. “I don’t want you drinking. You’re here to get an education.”
“Don’t Mama me.” She stomped her foot. “And be careful. The devil’s going to tempt you at every turn, but I don’t need any more grandchildren yet.” She gasped, her eyes wide open, and covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh, dear…” Her hand fell away from her mouth. “I guess, well … just be careful then.” She reached out and drew him into a crushing embrace. “Oh, my baby.”
Scott loosely returned the hug and pushed back. “I’ll be fine, and I’ll be careful.”
“Find a church.” Margaret blinked magnificently. “There’s got to be a decent Baptist church nearby.”
“We should get on the road,” Terrence Davenport said as he watched the tears roll down his wife’s pumpernickel face. He extended his hand to his youngest son. “If you need anything, just call.” He leaned in and spoke quietly so that his wife couldn’t hear. “And call home. It’ll make my life easier.”
Scott, when he went to let go of his father’s hand, fumbled to hang on to the roll of money being slipped to him. He shoved the bills into his jeans pocket. “Thanks!”
“All right, let’s roll,” Terrence said, opening the car door for Margaret.
“Your father will put money into your account every two weeks,” Margaret said as she settled into the seat.
“Margie!” Terrence unintentionally slammed closed the passenger side door. “Good luck, son.” He made his way around to the driver’s side and got in. “We agreed on once a month!”
Scott laughed. He took a couple of steps backwards as the engine roared and watched as the car rolled down the narrow street, coming to a stop at the intersection. As the vehicle turned right, his mother stuck her arm out the window. He waved, feeling both excited and terrified as his parents disappeared out of sight.
This is an excerpt from the first chapter of a novel-in-progress.