Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sample Sunday - Excerpt from Chapter 13

Here's a nice moment from The Door to Canellin.  It's from late in the book, but there's still plenty of action and adventure to come after!  I thought it would be nice to change it up, and post a quieter, more introspective scene for this Sample Sunday.  Enjoy!

“Dad,” Wes said hesitantly, “I’m sorry.”
Ryan looked at the boy in surprise.  “Sorry for what?” he asked.
“For everything.  Being such a pain.  Mouthing off.  Getting in trouble at school.  It’s just…”  Wes paused, taking a deep breath.  “It’s just that everyone always seems to be pushing me to do what they want me to do, and I just get mad and do what I want.  It’s been the same way here, but I didn’t know it until a little while ago.  But I guess I was kind of a jerk back home.  It’s not fair to you.  I’m sorry I’ve made your life miserable.”
Ryan felt a catch in his throat as he opened his mouth to speak.  Wes,” he said, “you’ve never made me miserable in my entire life.  You’ve made me mad plenty of times, but miserable isn’t even close to how I feel.  You’re the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“C’mon, Dad,” said Wes.  “If not for me, you’d still be safe back home.  You wouldn’t have to stress about whether I was doing what I’m supposed to do, whether I’ve got my homework done, whether I’m getting in trouble.  If not for me, you’d have a completely different life.”  Wes turned away, looking off across the grass.  “You could have finished college, or become a singer or a writer like you always said you used to dream about.  You could do anything you wanted.  You’d be a lot better off without me.”
Ryan chuckled, and Wes was momentarily stung by the reaction.  He opened his mouth to say so, and Ryan quickly spoke.  “You don’t know me half as well as you think, son,” he said.  “If I’d never met your mom or had you, would I have finished college?”  He shrugged.  “Probably not.  Sure, taking care of you made it harder, especially when it was just the two of us.  But before you came along, I was a screwup.  I wasn’t doing well in school long before I met your mother.  Becoming your father gave me the sense of responsibility I’d been missing up to that point.  And as for singing,” he continued, rolling his eyes.  “Well, I used to be good, but I was never great.  I mean, not professional great.  Singing was something that I loved to do, and still do, especially with you.  But doing it for a living?  That was a pipe dream, son, and I knew it even way back then. The best thing I ever got from my music was being able to share it with you. And in the end, you’re way better on trumpet than I ever was as a singer.”  He looked at Wes, who was still avoiding his gaze.  “But none of that really matters.  Even supposing you’re right, and I could have done those things if not for you, I wouldn’t trade it.  I’d never give up that moment.”
Wes looked up, confused.  “What moment?”
“That moment,” repeated Ryan, shaking his head and searching for the words.  “It’s hard to explain.  It was that moment in the delivery room when the doctor laid you in my arms, and you looked up at me with those bright blue eyes, and your little conehead was resting in the crook of my arm.  That moment.  From the first second you looked into my eyes, I was yours.  Suddenly, giving you a better life was far more important than anything I’d ever wanted for myself.  Because giving you a better life would make my world better than I’d ever imagined it could be.”
Wes shook his head, tears glistening in his eyes.  “Then why are we always fighting?” he said.  “If you want to give me a better life, why not just let me do what I want and be happy, without you and everybody else always pushing and pulling me all the time?”
Ryan laughed.  “Giving you a better life doesn’t mean giving you everything you want, Wes.”  Ryan shook his head ruefully.  “Lord knows I wish it did.  But sometimes it means specifically not giving you what you want.  Sure, you’d be happy enough now, but what about the future, when it’s time for you to make your own way in the world?  Giving you a better life means raising you to know right from wrong, giving you opportunities I never had, and seeing that you grow up to be a responsible, well-adjusted, happy person.  And it means making sure you learn to balance that happiness against your responsibilities.”
“Now you sound like Gideon,” said Wes with a sour look.  “But I get it.  It’s just hard when there’s so much stuff that I want to do that you won’t let me, and there’s so much stuff you want me to do that I hate doing.”
“You know,” said Ryan with a grin, “if you did more of those things that you hate without giving me so much lip about them, you’d probably get to do more of those things you wish you could.”
Wes shrugged.  “Yeah, I guess.  I just haven’t made things very easy on you, and I wanted you to know that I’m sorry.  For real, this time.”  He gazed up at his father and gave him a tentative smile.  Then his expression changed, and he narrowed his eyes.  “What do you mean, conehead?”  Ryan laughed and reached out to tousle the boy’s hair.
“Ask your mom sometime.  Her first words when she saw you, all drugged up from the delivery, were, ‘My God, he’s a conehead!’”  Wes joined Ryan in laughter.  After a while, Ryan’s face grew serious.  “The question now, though, is where do we go from here?”  He looked at Wes questioningly.
“Yeah, about that,” said Wes.  He looked up at his father with a look that conveyed both nervousness and defiance.  “I know you came after me to take me back to Diaticus, but you can’t,” he said in a rush.  Wes’ knees trembled as he spoke.  “I’m not trying to start a fight with you or anything, but I can’t go back there.  I don’t trust Diaticus anymore.  I don’t think he was ever really trying to find a way to send me home.”
“I think you’re right,” said Ryan, “but I don’t think he had a choice.”  Ryan quickly related the story of overhearing Diaticus talking to himself in the sword chamber.  “I think he was pushed into it by Pomander,” he concluded.
“Even so,” said Wes, “I don’t want to put myself back where I have to rely on him again.  Besides, I kind of have a responsibility here.  Pomander sent me here to get rid of the dragon, and that’s what I plan to do, even if I don’t really trust him or Diaticus anymore.”
Ryan sighed, and Wes prepared himself for the inevitable argument.  “You know what, son?” said Ryan.  “I’ve been thinking about this since we started after you.  Before that, actually.”  He turned his head, regarding his son carefully.  Wes’ face was determined, but there was more than that.  The boy had changed in his time in Canellin.  He had grown.  And it was in that moment that Ryan made the decision he’d been debating since he’d arrived.  “I just want to go home,” he said.  “And it seems to me there’s a perfectly good doorway that’s a lot closer than Diaticus and the Collegium.”  He reached over again and tousled Wes’ hair.  “It’s kind of scary to think about, but I don’t think we have much choice.  What say you and me go kill ourselves a dragon?”

No comments:

Post a Comment