This part is short and sweet, introducing some important new characters (only one of whom I got to using, though I had very specific plans for the rest). The more I revisit this effort from last year, the more I think there is something worth salvaging here, and I play to give it a go after NaNoWriMo.
“And what are your plans for tonight, Alex?” Mrs. Vick asked her daughter. There was a simple rule about Friday nights in her house: her teenage son and daughter could go out with their friends, and even stay out a little past midnight sometimes, as long as they were in their chairs at seven for Family Dinner first.
“Evan’s going to drive me into the city to see the big Christmas tree!” Alex answered, excited. Her mother knew this was only a half-truth, that they had surely heard about a club somewhere that was relaxed about identification. But Alex’s boyfriend had proven responsible so far, and her mother knew that with her looks at her age she could easily end up with someone much worse. Besides, they probably did want to see the tree.
“Ooh, well, sounds very romantic,” she cooed, winking, which caused her daughter to blush. She turned to her son Kevin, who was leaning across the table to serve himself more potatoes, and repeated the question.
“Actually mom I’m glad you mentioned that,” he replied with what clearly practiced words. His mother smiled slightly – at only fourteen, her son was already something of a sly talker.
“The snowboard park is open nights again,” he continued. “It’s twenty bucks to get in.”
“Well, I know you have twenty dollars of your own, so don’t expect me to give it to you. But are you sure you want to spend that much money on one night out?” his mother asked. Kevin smiled. Apparently this was just what he wanted.
“I know, that’s what I was thinking. But see, for just this week, it’s only one-fifty to buy a season pass, and then I could go as much as I want.” He waited while his mother stared at him. “After eight times it would be-”
“I know how to do math,” his mother said, interrupting him. “So you’re saying you want a hundred and fifty dollars from me?”
George Vick, her husband, who had been somewhat distracted all night, suddenly looked up. “You want a hundred and fifty bucks for what?” he said suspiciously.
“The snowboard park. It’s a good deal,” said Kevin, beginning to lose his composure. “But look, I already have fifty dollars, so all I need is a hundred. And then you can take the rest out of my allowance.”
He waited, but his parents were silent. “I’d have probably spent my allowance on the park anyway, but I wouldn’t get to go as much,” he added.
“Well, you certainly have thought this through,” said his father. George and Colleen Vick looked at each other for a brief moment. “Look, we’ll give you the twenty dollars for the park tonight, talk this over and decide tomorrow.”
Kevin grinned and thanked his parents. He knew this was mostly a delay tactic for the sake of his sister: if they agreed to his request then and there, she would immediately demand her own hundred-dollar indulgence. Kevin was eager to work and earn money to call his own, but his parents didn’t want him “growing up too fast”, and his options were limited by his age anyway. It infuriated him to no end that his seventeen year old sister had to be laboriously coaxed into accepting a job at the information desk in the mall, and that since starting she had thrown weekly tantrums insisting she was going to quit. Meanwhile she continued to squeeze handsome sums out of their parents and collect fashionable gifts from her boyfriend. It also infuriated him that she had chosen a boyfriend whose name rhymed with his own.
The rest of the dinner was passed with small-talk and conjecture about the plots of various television shows. This slightly awkward banter was made necessary by the curious fact that George Vick wasn’t telling stories about his day at work as he always did after his wife asked the children about their plans. Nobody was particularly bothered by this: the party supply business had ceased to be a source of interesting anecdotes when George moved out of the dispatch team and into an office job. He still tried valiantly, straining to inject humour or drama into an unusual order or complaint, and would often drift into the retelling of tales from the old days – but not tonight. The kids began to gossip about people at school, but would occasionally pause, ready to yield the stage to their father and his love of narration. Each time after a moment of silence they would resume, trying not to look at their mother’s concerned expression.