Check out the prologue to "Alone In The Light" by clicking here

An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Monday, June 17, 2019

An excerpt from Alone In The Light - Mary Fischer

Ladies and gentlemen!

Hello and a (belated) happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

I felt that today, as a treat to myself on Father's Day, I'd share another excerpt from my upcoming story, Alone In The Light.

This is an introduction to Mary Fischer, the 2nd POV for my story.
I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - Batesville, IN
Thursday, November 6, 2003 - Camp Wolf, Kuwait

            Rick and I are in Batesville for the weekend. Right now, I am trying not to get in the car and go home because, well, I hate being here with a passion. Since the minute I got home, Mom has been on me like it’s her job and I want to scream at her. Seriously, what is her problem? No, Mom, Rick and I are still not getting married. No, Mom, I still have not changed my major to “something useful.” No, Mom, I am not growing my hair back out.
            I take a deep breath and make the unfortunate decision to leave my bedroom. Linda is slouched on the couch. She’s watching the TV and Katie is messing around on the computer in the den. I peer around corners and don’t see my mom, so I walk to the kitchen, have a seat at the table, and break out my sketchbook. I work for thirty or so minutes, making random sketches of things in the kitchen. Charlotte says I have very good drawing fundamentals but need to work on transforming them into 3-dimensional something or others. Basically she says I can draw, but I can’t sculpt for shit. I think she’s right. Luckily, I don’t plan on extending my 3D career beyond this current class. I suddenly become aware that I am not alone and I turn abruptly to see my dad leaning against the door with a smirk.
            “You always were good at art.”
            “Well, it’s something I enjoy.” I add a little more snark than I’d intended.
            “Oh, I know.” He moves to sit on the chair to my right.
His hand reaches for his breast pocket and he withdraws a pack of cigarettes and he lights one. The scent overwhelms me with memories and nostalgia, both of home and of… I sigh. Nobody in Bloomington seems to smoke. It’s like the entire town opted to just give it up one day and that’s that. Sure, my neighbors do, but for some reason, it smells bad when they do it. I shake my head and try to ignore this tangential moment, but the smell is so strong it holds me fixed in a torrent of memories stretching back to my earliest days.
“You okay?” My dad’s face is full of concern,
“What?” I blink and realize I’ve been completely zoning out. His cigarette is half gone now. “Sorry, Dad. I was just thinking about stuff.”
“Any stuff you want to share with me?”
“What? No.” I laugh. “I just like the smell of your cigarettes.”
“You do?” He is caught off guard by my answer and chokes out his response in a blue cloud. “I don’t think anyone has ever said that.”
“I just wish you wouldn’t do it in the house.” Mom’s voice is like a scratch on a record. All of my good memories are gone in a single sentence.
“I’m allowed one.” He gives me a wink before he stubs it out in the ashtray.
“We’re leaving for dinner in thirty minutes.” Mom regards us both. “Are you going to get dressed?”
“I…” I look down at my clothes and Dad does the same with his. “I thought we were just going to Charlie’s, Mom. They don’t have a dress code.” I stop for a moment and add, “Well, except the whole ‘no pants, no shoes, no service’ thing and I think that’s pretty universal.”
“I’m wearing this,” Katie says from the door. She gestures to her Bulldogs Track and Field shirt, jeans, and an old pair of my army boots.
“Nobody in this house cares about anything,” Mom says and walks out of the kitchen.
“What the fuck?” I mouth to Katie, and she just gives me a shake of the head and wide eyes in response.
“Girls,” my dad says in his soft baritone. “How about we all go get cleaned up for dinner and look nice when we go out.”
“Fine.” We both groan and go to our rooms to change into something ‘mom appropriate’... so we can eat at the local bar. You know, in case we run into the Dickman family or someone else we know. What will they think of us if we don't look our best at the damn bar?
I don’t think I’ll ever understand my mother.


The phone center is hot. I think they intentionally keep it this way to make everyone’s calls shorter. Nobody wants to keep talking in a sweatbox. I sit and listen as the phone rings. It’s about 7:00 at home, so everyone should be awake by now.
“Fischer residence.” I hear Katie’s voice through her yawn.
“Hey, kiddo.”
“Mary!” she yells, and I hear the phone get muffled as she covers it with her hand. Through her best efforts, I can hear her shout, “Mary’s on the phone,” to the rest of the family. “How are you?”
“I’m good. Little warm, but good.”
“It’s cold here,” she states. “And raining.”
“That sucks.”
“Tell me about it,” she sighs. “Cross Country ended like two weeks ago and it’s been raining since. I haven’t been out of the house in week.”
“I haven’t left the same square mile of soil in way longer than that.”
“Oh, suck.”
“Oh,” she blurts. “Uh, here’s mom.” Then, “Love you, Mar.”
“Love you too, Katydid.”
“Hello?” Mom says in her formal way, like she didn’t know it was me on the phone.
“Hey, Mom. It’s me.”
“What’s wrong?” she asks, and I sigh.
“You mean aside from being stuck in this miserable place for another month and a half? Nothing. I just wanted to call and say hi. I… miss you guys.”
“Your dad left for work already.” She continues like I haven’t said anything.
“How about you? How are you, Mom?”
“Fine. I’m just sick of this rain. I was supposed to go meet your aunt and go shopping, but their basement is flooded so now I’m just going to sit here and do nothing all day, I suppose.”
“I will have to take your word for it.” Sweat is rolling down my forehead now. I can’t decide if it’s the phone center or just talking to Mom when she’s in this mood. “It hasn’t really rained here. You know, since I’ve been here. So…”
“And then your sister has some thing at the school tonight that we’re supposed to go to.”
“Linda or Katie?”
“I hate all of these things they have parents do. Show up and sit through it.”
“Is Linda home?”
“I just don’t know,” Mom continues on. “Where do they expect us to have all the free time?”
“Mom!” I snap. “I am calling you from 6,000 miles away. It is hot. I’m very grumpy at the moment. I have not had the best of weeks. Can you please not spend our entire time on the phone bitching about inane shit?” Whoops. I am met by silence. For a long moment I think she’s either hung up on me or had a heart attack.
“Well, then, Mary,” Mom intones. “What would you like to talk about?”
“Anything, Mom. I just want to hear the voices of people I love and know…” I sigh. “And not have those voices, you know, just complain the whole time.”
“I see.”
“You know what, Mom, forget it.” The tears well up in my eyes. “I’m going to go. Tell Dad and Linda I love them.”
“I love you too, Mom,” I add. Then I disconnect without waiting for a response.


Thirty minutes after changing clothes, we are walking into the front door of Lil Charlie’s and I see Rick waiting inside. He greets us warmly, shakes my dad’s hand, and we’re all escorted off to our seats by a girl who looks to be Katie’s age and very pregnant. Mom has been riding me the entire way here about everything and it has finally gotten to me. I am in a mood and I am fairly certain that everyone here can feel it. I’m sure this will all end well tonight. I put on my smile and sit. I hate being home. I hate that Mom thinks this is “going out.” It’s stupid. This is all pointless. I need a drink.
“So, Rick,” Dad starts. “School going well?”
“Yes, Sir,” Rick says. “Things are going quite well.”
“That’s good.” Mom injects herself into the conversation and Rick gives me a half-smile. “It’s so nice of you to take a break from your studies and come home.”
“I came home, too,” I add while I get the attention of the waitress. She looks at me and I state, very loudly, “Jack and Coke, double tall, please.” She smiles and I give her a thumbs-up.
“Mary,” Mom scolds. “Rick is studying business. His schedule is far more taxing, I would imagine, than yours is.”
“With all my drawing and throwing my life away?” I don’t know what’s come over me, but it’s like I’ve entered a contest for “who can piss off Sharon Fischer the most” and I am the only contestant. Linda and Katie are both firmly tucked away behind their menus.
“You said it, not me,” she adds with a fake smile.
“No, I’m pretty sure you’ve said it before. Which means I am just repeating it.”
“Ladies,” Dad says. His voice is calm yet firm, and we both yield for the moment.
            Our drinks come and I grab mine and down most of it in one go, ordering a second one before Lisa, our waitress, departs with our food orders. It’s pretty quiet for the moment and my second drink arrives. I get the raised eyebrow from Dad and remind him that I’m well above the legal drinking age. He relents and my new best friend, Lisa, brings me another round. At this point, I feel my synapses are properly lubricated. The food arrives and everyone goes about eating with the exception of Mom, who is examining her meal. Apparently they’ve gotten something wrong with her order.
            “Something wrong?” I ask the question already knowing the answer.
            “It’s fine.” It is clearly not fine. Nothing is ever fine for her.
            “Want me to flag Lisa down? She’s my new BFF.”
            “Who?” Mom asks.
            “Lisa. Short girl, dark hair… brought us all the food and drinks.”
            “No. It’ll be fine.”
            “If you say so.” I smile and knock back the rest of my drink.
            “So, Rick,” Linda says from down the table. “Is the food any better in Bloomington?” She is clearly not a fan of her salad.
            “Well, some of it is.”
            “I wouldn’t know,” I interject. “We’ve never gone to anywhere to eat.”
            “Seriously?” Katie asks.
            “Seriously.” I give a pair of finger-guns to Lisa and motion to my drink. “We’ve had lots of pizza though.”
            “You don’t like pizza,” Katie says.
            “I know!”
            “Mary.” Mom says my name like a statement. As if I’ve just insulted her and this is a verbal slap.
            “What?” I say and look from her to Rick. “We’ve never gone out. Ever.” Lisa sets my drink down and I thank her. She’s getting an extra tip from me later. “We’ve eaten tons of shitty pizza, but have yet to see the inside of a nice restaurant.” I look Rick in the eyes. “Right?”
            “Uh…” Rick stammers.
            “We could go out this week if you’d like.”
            “I would like!” I say. “You pick the night, and I’ll be there.” I think I might be drunk. “Just not pizza. Can we agree on no pizza?”
            “Well, I’ve got a test Tuesday and Thursday… We could go out Tuesday night, so I could still study on Wednesday.”
            “Perfect!” I raise my glass. “Tuesday it is.” I think my voice might be a little louder than Mom or Dad would like, but I don’t care. “You’re going to take me to dinner and make me feel important for an evening.”
            The table is silent. I can hear every sound in the restaurant, and it is deafening. My eyes are suddenly stinging, and I am just over it.
            “I’m sick of being unimportant to all of you.” My lighthearted banter seems to falter, and I find myself being quite sad. I stand up, a little uneasy if I do say so. “I’m going back to the house.” And I leave before Mom or Rick can comment and make my way back to the unfamiliar room in their house.

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