Fictional Writing

The following is work in progress. It is fictional writing about a family that leaves small town America for an expatriate life.  Mark and Leigh are 40 year old teachers.  Luke is a 9 year old typical American boy who is love with computers and video games.  Riley is an 8 year old girl who is an outgoing tomboy.  Any resemblence to real people and events is your imagination!

Mark 

As soon as we got into the van, Riley laid her head in my lap and fell asleep with a furrowed brow.  She had been so brave during our European vacation.  Although she had her mother’s personality,  at eight years old, she had my worries.  Riley liked to stay within the lines.  Her brother didn’t know that lines existed!  She was a social butterfly and she felt secure knowing her place the world.  It was my job to protect that place for her, but now I had allowed that world to vanish.  Luke was showing signs of fatigue too, but as long as he had his Gameboy and it was charged, life was good. 

I looked over at Leigh and she was staring out the window as the scenery flew by.  “Can you believe that we will be living so close to the rain forest” she gushed!  Her enthusiasm didn’t wane even after five weeks of traveling through six countries and flying 23 hours to arrive in KL.   She couldn’t sleep on the plane and she showed no signs of nodding off in the van either.  The driver was chatting happily about his fabulous country and pointing out areas of interest.  I couldn’t pay any attention.  I was wondering how I had ended up here. This was my wife’s world.  I had grown up in a small town in
Northern NJ.  When I married Leigh, my family considered me a rebel when I moved two hours away from them.   I was a small town boy who had grown up playing little league and going to the high school football games every Saturday night.  Raising our children the same way I had been raised was a privilege.  When had that all changed?  
 

Leigh’s obsessive desire to settle down and raise our children in a small town kept us on the tiny barrier island for the past 11 years.  We went about our happy life as a typical middle class family.  We worried about the mortgage, but found the money to take those weeklong annual trips to historic sites and theme parks or more often to a family member’s house.  Although we lived on teacher’s salaries, we had managed trips to Niagara Falls and Disney World.   

Small town life changed for me with a knock at the door.  A local realtor wanted to know if I’d like to sell my house.  I had slaved for the past five years making that old Victorian look great!  Weekends were spent knocking out walls, sanding floors and replacing windows.  Now, this guy wanted to know if I wanted to sell it!  He must be nuts.   

“I know that I can get you $750.00 for this house,” he had told me.  

I had heard the rumors of neighbors selling for ridiculous amounts of money.  The local papers were full of the housing market news.  Our small island had just been named “Number one Family Beach Resort in America”.  People wanted property here!  

I looked at the man in his business suit and said, “You must be mistaken, I just bought this house five years ago for only $200,000.  I have put in a lot of work, but surely it can’t be worth that much!”  He smiled at me as if I was an idiot and handed me his card.  “Give me a call if you change your mind.”   I couldn’t get that figure out of my head.  Surely he couldn’t’ be right.  But what if we could get at least double what we paid? 

I kept the offer from Leigh because I didn’t want her to know how tempting it was to me.  This was our dream house!  The kids were settled in a great school district. Our old drafty house was nestled into the high dunes and that was where we spent all of our time.  As teachers, we had the summers off together.  We took full advantage of living on the island and acted just like the tourists who spent $2,000 a week to rent a house here for a week.   

Over the years, I detected an almost manic desire coming from my wife for this to be the perfect place to raise our children.  Leigh had always been exuberant and she drew people to her like a magnet.  She had a lust for life and squeezing every possible thing out of it.  She worked so hard at perfecting our family world, but I could see that lately it was wearing on her.  She had grown up overseas with a nanny, maids, and drivers.  Her family wasn’t rich, but she lived what she called an expat life.  When I first heard the term, I had no idea what that meant.   

By the time I met her, she had traveled to almost fifty countries.  When her family got together and talked about their travels, her eyes would light up.  For our tenth anniversary, I had surprised her with a cruise to the Caribbean.  We had stopped in Mexico, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.  Leigh’s parents had watched the kids and we were alone for the first time since they were born.  I guess traveling out of the country triggered many of Leigh’s earlier memories and it was nice to hear her talk about them.  She had spent so much of her life pretending to be just an ordinary American, but this trip proved to her how different she really was.  It awakened a new passion to begin traveling.  I knew that I couldn’t give her that kind of a life on a teachers’ salary.  This was the first time she talked about teaching internationally.  I truly think that was when her dream of living the small town American life had ended for her.

1 Comment

  1. mosrubn said,

    June 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I have to get back to this interesting stuff later when my mind in one place. Right now I am in three parts; eating supper, excited about the prospects of going home tomorrow and discovering the itenerant writer,
    Just seen that you have been to the Sudan, may be somebody who can identify with my own experiences here and may be critique my accounts of the Sudan. Stay blessed.


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