Flash Fiction Friday: Exhaustion

This is a pretty meh example of what I was trying to do.  I think it shows promise, but definitely needs a little love…Not entirely factual, but definitely based on true events…stupid exhaustion does not go well with three year old sons…

“Daddy,” said the little boy as he climbed onto the man who was fast asleep on his favorite spot on the couch.

The boy, as always, used the man’s crotch as a place for leverage to get to his intended location on the man’s lap. The man, having become accustomed to such pains, let out a light grunt as he squinted his eyes open to see what treasures the boy may have brought for him this day.

“What’s up, little man?” the man said weakly, his eyes already closed again.

“Daddy, you read me this book?”

“Yeah,” the man said reluctantly.  “Just give me a minute, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy.  Are you tired?”

“Yeah, pal.  I’m really tired.  Couldn’t sleep at all last night.”

“Why couldn’t you sleep?”

“No clue, pal.  Just couldn’t do it.”

“Can you read me the book now?”

“Just another minute,” the man said, knowing he should really interact with the boy, but also knowing his eyes refused to stay open for more than a few seconds.

“Okay, Daddy.”

The boy squirmed in the man’s lap as he awaited the passing of a minute.

“Can you read it now, Daddy?” the boy asked after ten seconds of silence, his understanding of the passage of time not yet being fully developed.

“Yeah,” the man said, forcing himself to open his eyes and look into the blue ones currently seeking his attention.  “What book you pick?”

“This one!” the boy said excitedly as he showcased his favorite tale of a young elephant looking for an outfit to wear.

“Oh, yeah, I should have known.”

“It’s my fravrit.”

“I know.  I bet you could even read it to me.”

“I can!” the boy shouted as he opened the book to the first page and began reading aloud.

The man used this opportunity to rest his head against the couch.

“Are you listening, Daddy?”

“Of course I am, little man.  You’re doing awesome!  Keep going.”

“But I’m done.”

“Already?” the man asked, squinting toward the book to see how far the boy had gotten.  He had the book open to the final page.  Had he really fallen asleep so quickly as to miss his son’s retelling of his favorite story?

“Yes, Daddy.  Did you like it?”

“I loved it.”

“When’s Mommy getting home?”

“Soon, pal.”

“Okay, Daddy.  I’m hungry.”

“Yeah?” the man said, stalling for time.  “What would you like to eat?”

“I don’t know.  Macaroni and cheese?”

“For a snack?”

“Yeah!”

“Don’t think so, pal.  Why don’t you grab yourself an apple?”

“Yeah!  An apple!” the boy said as he jumped off the man’s lap, again using the crotch for leverage, and ran out of the room.

He reappeared seconds later.

“Where is the stool?”

“I don’t know, pal.  Why don’t you find it?”

“I need the stool to get to the apples.”

“I know, buddy.  So why don’t you find it?”

“I can’t find it.”

“Did you look?”

“No.”

“Then look!” the man said, feeling the agitation rising within him.  He reminded himself that the boy didn’t deserve to be yelled at.  “Just look for a second and if you can’t find it, I’ll help you.”

A brief moment passed with absolutely no noise, causing the man to believe the boy just looked around himself without moving to see if he could see the stool.

“Can you help me?”

“Yeah,” the man grunted again, feeling a great weight against him as he leaned forward to get off the couch.  He walked into the kitchen and looked quickly into the adjoining bathroom, which had its door open.  “Dude, the stool is in the bathroom by the sink, right where you always leave it!”

“Oh!” the boy said, running hastily into the bathroom to grab the stool.  “Thank you, Daddy.”

“Come on, pal.  You could have seen that.”

“I know, Daddy.”

The boy dragged the stool along the floor toward the corner of the kitchen where the fruit lie.  The man’s head pounded at the sound of the plastic rubbing against the wooden floor.

“Pick it up, buddy.  Please. Daddy’s head hurts.”

“Okay, Daddy.” The boy worked hard to lift the stool off the floor and placed it in position to get his apple.

The man started back on his way toward his spot on the couch, but only made it halfway before the sound of a dozen apples falling to the floor hit his ears.

“Come on, man!” the man yelled as he turned back toward the kitchen and saw that the boy had dropped all the apples.  “You’ve gotta be careful!”

“I’m sorry, Daddy.”

“Pick them up.”

“Can you cut the apple for me?”

“Pick up the other ones first.”

“But I want a snack!”

“Pick up the apples and I’ll cut yours.”

“But I’m hungry now!”

“I know.  Just pick up the damned apples already!” the man screamed.  He wasn’t entirely certain why he lost control, just knew that something within him snapped at the relatively simple request.  He felt ashamed, but took a deep breath, regained control, and walked over by the boy, who had a tear in his eye as he stared at his father.  The man leaned over and smiled at the boy.  “Come on, give me a hug. I’ll help you clean up.”

The boy came in for a hug and a huge sniffle fell from his face.

“Come on, pal.  Let’s clean up, and I’ll cut that apple up for you,” the man said, fighting back the exhaustion and forcing himself to be on his own best behavior, since he required that of the boy.

“Okay, Daddy,” the boy said as he began picking up the apples.

“Okay,” the man repeated, still feeling ashamed that he had allowed himself to get so angry about nothing, knowing that this wasn’t the first time he let his exhaustion get the best of him.  He swore to himself to try and be better.

The boy did too.

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