Snippet: A moment with the captain

A star shot across the sky in front of us and burned out. Ever since I was a kid, I had been fascinated by how quietly they come and go. You see a flash for just a moment. That’s all you get. If you faced the wrong way, if you weren’t paying attention, you’d miss it all and never see it again.

“You mentioned at port that things weren’t good between you,” the captain said.“It must be hard being this far from home.”

Home. That word again.

“I don’t know. I guess it hasn’t sunk in yet. I mean, Mum didn’t even want me to know. My sister didn’t tell her she was calling me. I really hate that they keep stuff from me! It’s been like that my whole life.”

A handful of sand drained through the gaps in my fingers. I don’t remember picking it up.

“It’s just a lot to process,” I sighed. “No one told me Dad left us. Eventually, I figured it out for myself, but all those years, I thought he was stationed somewhere and work kept him too busy to call. When I left home, I thought, what if I left still thinking he was coming home? I hate that my Mum makes a naïve child out of me, and now it feels like I don’t even get to be mad at her because… because…”

Tears were coming. I could feel them. But I didn’t want to break down in front of the captain. I shut my mouth and held my lips tight with my teeth. I clutched sand in both hands now as I thought about the time some kid from school found my journal and read it to the class. I felt so embarrassed and violated. I thought Mum would take my side, but instead she laughed and told me to go off and play. My childhood was peppered with betrayals like that, but I was supposed to feel sorry for her now. Now that she was-

“I understand.” The captain’s voice brought me back. “My father left us when I was fourteen and it turned my family upside-down. I can’t speak for his reasons, or your father’s, but even with good intentions, parents can still do a lot of damage to their children.”

Excerpt from a first draft. My protagonist having a heart-to-heart with my hero, the captain.