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You Can't Always Go Home Again

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Nov. 14th, 2012 | 02:14 am

Young Adult Novel - This is part 7. Parts two, three, four, 4.5, five, six, and the end of the book; part one is not yet posted.
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Every now and then, Grampa gets sick. I come home from school and he’s not there. He usually goes to the Veterans Administration Hospital, checks himself in for a week, gets his prescription renewed or his dosage upped, comes home again. I hold down the fort, which means sabotaging the cable box if I can find it, sometimes going through Mom’s purse and cutting up her cards.

She always gets more.

The cable guy always comes. And Mom will actually let me make a path through the living room so the cable guy can get to the back of the set. She makes me pinky swear not to throw anything out.

Pinky swearing doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.

Sometimes, Grampa’s sick when I get home. Which is why I always say, loudly, when I’m walking up the driveway, “It’s me, Aurora Dawn, your beloved granddaughter!” and I repeat it when I’m walking in the door. Most of the time, he sings back, “Aurora Dawn, Aurora Dawn, I love you more than I can tell” which only makes sense when you know the song was originally about Rosabelle so it rhymed.

Tonight he doesn’t sing it back.

Mom’s light is out. Her room is on the other side of the living room, with a good thick barricade of magazine piles and Precious Moments and Ab Thrusters in front of the door. The Plymouth is in the driveway, so he’s not out having a beer at the Legion. I debate whether to go in at all, but my phone’s not working, and hey, he could be asleep.

Bad move, Aurora Dawn.

My ears are still ringing from the bullet crashing into the doorframe when he shines the Maglite into my face.

“That was a warning shot.”

“Sir, yes, sir!” Being military is usually the best choice.

“Where you been Private?”

“On a mission, sir!” Being on a mission means anything. It means you went somewhere you were told to go. Maybe you got toilet paper. Maybe you took the next hill. It was a mission, and it’s allowed, because you followed an order.

“You’re all wet.”

“Sir, yes, sir!” I debate saluting but sudden moves are usually bad.

The flashlight wavers. I take a chance. Softly.

“It’s me, Aurora Dawn, your beloved granddaughter.”

He peers at me. “Why’re you all wet? My granddaughter’s not all wet.”

“It was a pool party.”

He lowers the flashlight. He lowers the gun in his other hand.

“Aurora Dawn…Aurora Dawn…” I sing it with him. “I love you more than I can tell…”

He looks at the gun in his hand. He looks at me. “I guess I better go over to the VA.”

“I guess you better,” I say. “You want me to hold some of that for you?”

“Can’t set it down, Charlie’s still out there.”

“So’s C Company,” I say. “They’re on the lookout.”

“C Company.” He snorts. “That Yoder’s got shit for brains. Wouldn’t know an ambush from a hole in his ass.”

“You kiss my mother with that mouth?”

So far, no-one’s called the police. We’ve only got the one neighbor since they tore down three apartment buildings at the end of our cul-de-sac, and the Pritchards are almost fifty yards over. This is one of the old neighborhoods and the yard is so big we only bother to mow about twenty feet on either side of the driveway.

Mom calls out from behind her door, “Everyone still alive out there?”

I can’t tell if it’s a real question or if she’s trying to be funny. “Yeah, we’re fine. Go back to sleep.”

Grampa looks at the gun in his hand and looks confused.

“Permission to stand down, Sir,” I say, and he nods. Some of him is still listening, because he reaches into his pocket and hands me the car keys. “Come on, Grampa, I’ll take you to the medical tent.”

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Comments {9}

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Nov. 15th, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm hoping it ends up publishable, but yeah, the more I write this story the darker it gets :)

And seriously, thanks - your opinion means a lot to me.

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from: faerie_spark
date: Nov. 14th, 2012 01:13 pm (UTC)
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Wow, what a tighth bit of prose!

I like it.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Nov. 15th, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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Andrea Blythe

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from: blythe025
date: Nov. 14th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
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I love this passage, showing the challenges of having a granddad with dementia (or PTS?) and how she plays along to care for him. So great.

I did have a moment of confusion while I was reading:

"Bad move, Aurora Dawn.

My ears are still ringing from the bullet crashing into the doorframe when he shines the Maglite into my face."


I had to go back and forth before and after this several times to figure out that the grandpa had fired a gun in her direction. I just didn't make the connection that grandpa being sick was more a mental than a physical thing (which maybe is presented in one of the early bits that you link to...).

Anyway, just something to think about on the rewrite. I'm stoked that you're still making progress on this. :)

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Nov. 15th, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
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Thanks - and that's super helpful! I really appreciate your feedback :)

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Andrea Blythe

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from: blythe025
date: Nov. 15th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome. :)

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from: anonymous
date: Nov. 16th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
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This leaves such a beautiful ache. It's so real and so tender, and I just hurt for the both of them, but it leaves me smiling in that she tries so hard to care for him, to meet him where he is with his illness. The subtle clues of the chaotic atmosphere and the disconnection of the mother really carry it along, too.

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carcrash heart

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from: genesisdesire
date: Nov. 16th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Oh heavens that anonymous comment was me, I do wish LJ would make it more obvious if it logs me out.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Nov. 16th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - and it really made my day that you saw so much there!

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