Photo by Elizabeth Ann Colette
In my novel TWINK, both the protagonist Mike and the antagonist Kione experience significant events at the age of eight. For Mike, it’s a dream come true. For Kione, it’s a nightmare. Mike’s father is a loving man who dies tragically when Mike is seventeen. In Kione’s case, the tragedy is that his father is still alive, still tormenting Kione, if only in his own mind.
I’m writing EFFIN’ ALBERT right now and again, there are parallels. Mike, the protagonist, is a twelve-year boy unfairly saddled with caring for his little brother, Albert. The antagonist, police officer William Knowles, is similarly charged as a boy with caring for his little brother Bobby. The younger brothers are both physically unique. Both have vision issues, both are trusting and vulnerable. Mike resents Albert on occasion but he is fiercely protective of Albert and will do anything to keep him safe. Knowles’ deep resentment of his younger brother bubbles and boils to the point of doing Bobby actual physical harm.
Parallels. Sometimes I wonder why I’m drawn to creating parallel stories of children whose parents die; whose home lives are less than optimal; who find themselves in possible peril. Part of it, I’m certain, is because of my own history, growing up without a father. Because we were alone so much, we kids had to rely on each other, take care of each other. It wasn’t fair. It didn’t matter. We were fearful of the dangerous outside world and clung to each other tight, insulated in our little familial cocoon. I think we loved each other more because we were all we had.
That brings to mind a scene in EFFIN’ ALBERT. Little Albert, age six, confesses a secret–not because he is threatened, but because his brother is. When Mike finds out, he doesn’t blame Albert, doesn’t question his motives. He knows why Albert did it: He loves me, that’s why.
We should all be so lucky.