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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: I Love You But...
By Julie Arduini


The screen door cracks with a bang, a reminder the spring needs replacing. Past the door I hear dogs barking and the unmistakable sound of a diesel engine. A crowd of kids look in unison, recognizing the one sure sign summer is over: the school bus is a block away.

Danny rolls the black wheeled backpack laced with orange flames back and forth against the uneven sidewalk. I tap my foot as I impatiently wait for the bus to stop for my son. Itís shallow, itís probably unthinkable in Dannyís eyes, but I have a desperate agenda. Iím going to follow that bus.

Before you look down on me as an overprotective mom, you have to know Danny is special. Not special like the pint sized celebrity wannabes and their moms on Dr. Phil last week, but special like heís been through a lot. He was a sick baby, apparently too sick for his dad to stick around because he left before Danny turned one. I got the medical bills and the joy of telling Danny all seven times in his nine years we were moving.

Although few see it now, Dannyís sickness eight years ago physically took a toll. He wears a hearing aid in his left ear and receives speech therapy. The therapist came up with the idea that perhaps this is the year I let him ride the school bus. Danny was all for it. Me? Iíd rather sing karaoke at the Grand Oleí Opry.

The bus garage explained when I called a few times last week that there were six stops after ours. I dart towards the garage as soon as I see Danny sit down in the back seat. I rev the engine on my 1997 van and peel out the driveway.

My heart lurches at the thought of what possible sins Danny might have before him on the big yellow transport. In my day it was cigarettes, a nasty translation of the birds and the bees, and poker. My research shows Danny is in for a world of strawberry quick; street drug version, cell phone porn, and high stakes poker. I weave in and out of traffic praying I can get close enough to see Danny and his activities.

Beads of sweat dance down my forehead. I canít bear the thought of anything happening to my little guy.
Nuts! I donít need a bread truck pulling in front of me. I need to see that bus. I pray the bread truck finds a bakery quickly so I can continue with my project. I canít believe my pastorís wife had the gall to call my plan an obsession. I do not obsess, I merely plan to degrees most moms donít have the love to try.
No one could possibly understand. Danny is all I have. God has a great plan for his life. My job is to make sure nothing gets in the way.

Yes! The bread truck is gone. Iím three cars back and I can just about see...heísÖletís see, leaning in awfully close to the person across from him. Are they exchanging something? What are they doing? Why do I hear a siren? Whatís that red flash? Am I getting pulled over? No way, I canít!

I roll down the window and shoot out in rapid fashion how I just have to follow that bus. The officer grins as he looks to the bus. I spot Dannyís horrified face. He realizes what I canít, that is, until the officer gives me a crisp new ticket. I completely ignored a stop sign in my effort to spy on my child.

The bus moves on as the officer pulls away, mumbling something about me being obsessed. I decide I drove this far, I might as well watch Danny walk in the school. In two minutes I pull up and witness Danny bound down the steps. He turns to me, shaking his head in disgust. He says something, but I canít quite decipher. I love your butt? No, he would never say that. I love you butÖyes, thatís it. Heís still speaking. No sir he did not just say that. I put the car in drive and leave, his words play in my mind all the way homeÖ

ĎI love you butÖget a grip.í

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This article has been read 1176 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood08/31/07
A beautifully written story! Vivid descriptions--I could picture Danny on the bus and feel his mother's anxiety.

Would have liked to hear some dialogue in the story--maybe between Danny and his mom before he left for school.

The title sparked my curiosity. Great job!
Cheri Hardaway 08/31/07
This was great! I could literally feel the agony of this mother and her genuine fear for her son. Fear leads us to do many wild things we think we would never do. I've been there.

One of my favorite descriptions was: "Me? Iíd rather sing karaoke at the Grand Oleí Opry." Cute.

You kind of lost me with this remark: "Danny is in for a world of strawberry quick," but I got the gist.

I would also have liked to see some dialogue, something to give us the emotions from the character's POV's.

Nice work! I'm sure all moms can appreciate these feelings.

Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
This is marvelous, and "I love your butt" had me laughing out loud. I love the tone, the self-deprecating humor, the sweetness. Wonderful!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/01/07
This is an exceptinally well-told story. I was right there with the mother, rushing, worrying, obsessing, wanting to make sure her son was all right. This shows the heart of a loving, maybe somewhat obsessed? mother.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/02/07
Great job! Your humor added so much to this story. I really felt for the mother...and the child!
Rhonda Clark09/02/07
Funny how parents will go to great links to protect their child from their own imagination.

I would liked to have felt a greater sense of urgency. Like the apprehension of the setback of the police pulling this mom over and her nervousness as she explained why she ran the stop sign.

You did a great job.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/03/07
Brilliantly written with a tongue in cheek type humor. A delightful read...and the last line sums up this obviously over-wrought and obsessed Mother..."get a grip." Great job of creativity and humor combined. Neat!
Ann FitzHenry09/03/07
Wonderful! My kids will be going to school soon and I can understand the feelings shared in this fabulous piece. Thanks! Loved it!
Lynda Schultz 09/05/07
Super story. Nice tie-in between the title and the end. Yes, she was obsessed ó fear does that!
Edy T Johnson 09/06/07
You captured the feeling so very well. I know that "obsession" to protect our precious little ones from every harm, and you know how to put it into words. Great writing, visual and emotional. Thank you, too, for leaving a comment on my "confused" entry. I appreciated it.