To avoid spoilers, read Jason's story on TSS Publishing: 'In My Dream I See My Son.' (Placed 3rd in the Spring TSS Flash Competition.)
Jason’s stories have always spoken to me. His voice is distinctive, and more often than not, focussed on a subject that preoccupies my own mind. In his story, ‘In My Dream I See My Son,’ Jason explores the relationship between father and son. The hook of the story is clever, in that the narrator imagines being in hospital with his son who is, ‘older, older, almost old, waiting for me to die.’ The first paragraph sets up the quiet between a father and son, unable to connect or communicate.
This imaginary scenario might be as much a memory as a projection, as it brings to mind for the narrator, his own father. Jason is great at invoking powerful images such as, ‘On the day he left the factory, he looked up to the sky and screamed.’ This is one of the powerful images that stays with you after reading the story, a story that is preoccupied with time, in both looking backwards and forwards. The subject of time is superbly expressed in the listing of memories the narrator will take with him; such as: ‘The elephant that winked at me. The high tree I couldn’t climb. The goal – all the goals – and the strings of my guitar.’ There is poetry in these listings that conjures a powerful nostalgia.
The story shows the qualities of time passing, instead of spelling them out. Again, another list towards the end of the story is mesmerising: ‘There are boxed-up words he’ll burn, because who would want to know? And the women, and the sex, and the blood in the dark, the sing-song, bed-breaking, coughed-up, coupled-up, sink-staining, sheet-stinking, red-white-and-black of it all.’ The alliterative, invented combinations have a musicality, but also a simple truth to them that makes me want to read this paragraph over an over.
The ending contrasts with the first paragraph. Although the father knows in the future there will be a stoicism between himself and his son, for now, he can ‘hold him the way my father held me.’ I love this ending. It rings true. My own son is fourteen, and already the manly stoicism is taking shape and I miss the cuddling he loved when he was younger. (I still grab one when I can). I have always had a good relationship with my own father, and hope it will be the same for me and my son. However, isn’t it true that we all fall into roles, and the inability to connect and speak openly, man-to-man, is difficult? It shouldn’t be, but it often is.
Jason’s story really hit home for me. A wonderful piece of writing about fathers and sons. I’m off to give my son a hug, whether he wants it or not.
Note to self: Always be on the look out for universal truths.
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