Timeout (Short Story)

"Late again?? You do know you have sent a really sad and disappointed kid to bed today…"

"I tried… but work is a bitch these days. Meetings, calls & more… I keep thinking about leaving on time, but something or the other keeps coming up."

"It is your choice !! And sitting late, how much of your work has reduced? Nothing right? Still the same !!"

"It's not that simple…"

"Well one day you will not recognize your own kid, he will have grown up and you will have missed his entire childhood, his best and golden years !! Then try to justify this to yourself…"

"Don't blow this out of proportion now!"

"Out of proportion? He was sitting here all evening, with his maps and scout books to plan his trip you promised to take him on. His face, when he started to realize that you won't come. It broke my heart…"


"Don't honey me… I hope you are at least taking him tomorrow"

"About that…"

"I don't believe you… If you plan to break that kid's heart tomorrow, then you might as well learn to live without us. I will take him and leave. Then you can work 24/7, no nagging wife & no annoying child. That would make you happy won't it?"

"Stop being so dramatic. I will take him out tomorrow…"

He pushed his uneaten food plate and headed out to the bedroom irritated. She sat there in the kitchen for a very long time… crying… praying, to get back the man that she had fallen in love with, the man she had married, for whom their son and she was the centre of his entire life and being.

The last couple of years, he seemed to have turned into a machine. Working late hours regularly, making money for his kid's future as he put it. But he hadn't realized the price was his relationship with his wife and son. Slowly, he started missing birthdays, school events, sports and homework. He was never around…

Their 5-year-old had not been able t handle this change in his father. Once a peppy child, he was now mostly quiet and kept to himself. On most occasions, questioning himself. What did he do so wrong that his father did not love him anymore…

"Wake up daddy, we have to go out today…"

Irritated, he still managed a smile for his kid. He had no mood to be going anywhere but no matter what his wife thought of him, he still immensely loved his son.

She was still angry at him, but not once did she let their son know about it, smiling as she packed his lunch box, not once even looking at him. Making his favourite pancakes for breakfast and carefully placing his mickey mouse water bottle into his bag alongside his emergency medicines and the red comfort car.

The kid was really excited. His day out with his father after a long time. He had played out many different combinations of the day in his head. He had barely slept that night in excitement. And as soon as his cuckoo clocked chimed, he was up and into this parents room, waking up his father.

She kissed his son goodbye and swiftly turned as he was about to reach her to kiss her goodbye. It hurt him but he knew she was still was living in denial, possibly trying to accept that her marriage was failing.

In the car, the kid opened up his map and was studying to decide where to go.

"Where have we headed daddy?"

"Somewhere you have not been before. I'll show you where my dad took me…"

The kid had a big smile and a twinkle in his eye.

The drive took them past the lake and towards the forest. It had rained pretty heavy that week. It was lush green and the flowers were sprouting, bright colours all around and the fragrance fresh in the air. All the while the kid was taking it all in his head stuck to the window and his eyes fixed on the road, asking a million questions. His father smiled and answered them all with an eerie sense of delight.

It was at the edge of the forest that they finally parked. He could see the entrance to a trail that led all the way to the hill.

"You came here as a kid"

"Ha Ha… Yes we liked to be out in the open with nature and not stuck with a Television or a mobile phone; sitting at home like a lazy bum"

The kid was laughing now "You didn’t have any of those when you were a kid, you had no choice really"

His father gave him a smack on his butt and edged him forward. The kid had a nervous laughter about him as he picked up his bag and moved out his car over to his father's side as they started with their trail.

"Are we there yet?"

"Oh boy! We haven't even trekked 5 minutes boy!! Come on quick!"

The edged their way slowly upwards, through the trees and shrubs. The kid was clearly struggling, but not giving up yet; trudged along by his father every now and then. The air was fresh and smelled of the plants; some sweet, some bitter & some his senses had never even imagined before this day. The sounds of crickets and frogs, alongside that of the flowing water, was the only thing they could hear apart from the winds and leaves in that dense cover.

"I cannot cross the water dad"

"Oh it's not deep, come on… don't be scared"

"No…No… No… Please no papa!"

The kid was too afraid, so his father did what he remembered from his own days, he quickly hoisted up his screaming kid and set him up on his shoulders. The wobbly walk across was something both would not forget for a very long time.

All along the way, his father told him stories from his childhood. The mischief and memories brought out giggles from the kid. He could not even remember when he had seen his son so happy before.

At the top, they settled down with a view of the forest laid out bare in front of them, the hawks circling the landscape and a cool wind in their face. Taking out the pancakes his mom packed for him, he finally asked his father…

"What do you do for work papa?"

He was surprised; the question came all of a sudden and he didn't know what to say. 

"You know the fancy programs that people use on their computers??"

"Like my games !!"

"Yes those and others too, like making pictures betters, your school assignments? I make programs like those!"

"Wow. Sounds difficult!"

"It is but I can handle it"

"No wonder you are always working so late. You must be very tired all the time. I can understand now."

Simple words; but they pierced him deeply, touched a space deep down inside that he had forgotten even existed. This tiny little thing, his own blood and yet so mature beyond his years; more than he could have imagined.

The drive back was mostly silent. The boy, busy, with all the different stones and flowers he had collected.

"You think mom will like these?"

"She will absolutely love them"

He ran and hugged his mom. Gave her the flowers and ran to his room.

"Ok. Someone is clearly happy"

"So… we are talking again now?"

"Unless you plan to be a sarcastic ass and ruin the moment completely"

He had a big smile. He wrapped his arms around her and took a deep breath. Kissing her on the cheek.

"I'm glad I went…"

"Where did you guys go??"

"To the forest trail… Where I went as a kid…"

"You took him to the forest????"


"He hates it there?? You don't know? The insects, the puddles, the dense spaces. It freaks him out; scares the poor kid to death !!"

"He didn't say anything!"

She was standing there; her eyes moist and hand on her lips…

"He wanted to be with me right? No matter how uncomfortable it was for him?"

He went back into the chair, his head in his hands.

"I am a bad father… aren't I? My child… my little child had fought his fears to be able to be with me? Because I'm never there for him! Out there making money as my kid is deprived of his father's love!!"

He couldn't stop crying through the night. Running to build a future, he had been losing out on something far more important… the present.

His little kid had proved to be the bigger man today.


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