a tale in weekly parts
This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
For the first time in many months, Alex had nothing but positive feelings about his father. For such a long time, his father had been somehow remote, seemingly feigning interest in what was going on in Alex’s life; or, at least, as much of it as Alex had made available for him to take an interest in; but never really engaging with his son.
To mark this change in their relationship, Alex made a decision that would, if he did but know it, have effects that would reach far beyond the here and now of his existence, beyond even the bitek side of his life and into a future of which he, so far, had no inkling, but that Albert/Jarvis had seen coming for a long time.
After finishing his salad, Alex placed his knife and fork together on his plate, their blade and tines facing away from him in a proper perpendicular fashion, the way his father had always insisted they should be. That, his father told him with, Alex felt, nauseating regularity, was to signify that he had finished eating. That he seldom did this, his parents took to be nothing more than childish rebellion, and little was ever said.
Having performed the ritual, and received a masterclass in synchronised raising of eyebrows from his parents, Alex cleared his throat and announced his decision.
“Dad, Mum,” he said in a very important tone, “I have decided that the name ‘Alex’ doesn’t fit who I am and who I plan to be.”
“Plan to be? Plan to be?” his father exclaimed, “You’re ten, for God’s sake. You should be planning to be a child for at least the next half-decade.”
“Hear him out, Father,” his mother said, “let him say what’s on his mind, then we’ll tell him what we think.” Turning to Alex, she asked, “What’s brought this on, son?”
“I just think that it’s a small name, an unsophisticated name, a name for people who don’t amount to much. It isn’t an important man’s name.”
“So what do you want us to call you; Alexander?” father asked.
“No, Dad. Too formal. Alexander the Great, Alexander Fleming and all that stuff. No, I want to be known as Xander.”
“Xander?” he asked, “What kind of silly talk is that? Xander’s not even a name. Anyway, what’s small and unimportant about Sir Alex Ferguson?”
“You think he’s sophisticated?” he replied, “What about the actress Alex Kingston and Alex Jones off The One Show. They’re girls.”
“Name me one important person called Xander.”
“Xander Armstrong off Pointless.”
“You call that important?”
“Yup, and sophisticated.”
Mother intervened. “Are you thinking about changing your name, then, son?”
“No, Mum,” he replied. “My name isn’t Alex, it’s Alexander, and always will be. Alex is just the short form you’ve always used. Xander is another short form. So’s Sandy. And Alec. I just think Xander is more ‘me’ than Alex.”
“Do you really want to get into an argument about this, boy?” his father asked with an air of menace.
“Dunno, Dad; do you?” he stubbornly replied.
Back to Mum.
“Listen, Father, he’s being very grown-up and understanding about this Alice business, and how it affects you; can’t you do the same for him? Cut him a little slack, as they say. What harm can it do? If he wants to be called Xander, I say we go along with it. He’ll still be the same boy.”
“Just one thing, erm, Xander.”
“What’s that, Mum?”
“You’ll forgive us if we slip occasionally and call you Alex, won’t you?”
“Of course, Mum. And I know it’ll take even longer for the kids at school; and the teachers; to get used to it.”
“Are we settled then, Father?”
“Yes love,” Father replied, “as always, you’re quite right. A bit of give and take, eh, Xander?”
“Thanks, Dad; I’ll take the dishes out.”
“No need for that, lad,” his father responded, “your mother’ll do that.”
“Hmmph!” was all she said.
“Okay if I go and tell Uncle Albert?”
“Go on, then,” his father replied, and his parents exchanged a knowing grin.
Half way to the hut, Xander knew that he had no need to tell Albert and Jarvis about his decision. He knew that they were already aware of it. As he rounded the leylandii, he saw Albert waiting for him.
“We wondered when you’d get around to that,” Albert said, “we’ve always known that it would happen, but we were never quite sure when. Come inside, lad, we’ve something we want to tell you.”
They climbed the steps and passed through the door into Jarvis’s interior.
“What is it?” Xander asked.
Jarvis replied, “Message from Kr’veth’neq’is. She has decided to meet with your parents; her parents. She’ll be here next Thursday. You’re not to let them know beforehand.”
“Because you couldn’t tell them without giving away part of the situation at least. She thinks that if they know even a small amount of the story, they will think about it and talk about it and worry about it, and maybe form judgements and opinions that will make it harder for her to protect them from the shock of the truth. She asks that you just make sure they are both at home all day on Thursday. Can you do that?”
“No problemo, hombre,” Xander replied, employing his very best Bart Simpson impression.
This story remains open for suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) episode 23 of this collaborative tale.