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LMS VI: Let Me Live Tonight 1.7

by winterwolf0100


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

They told me that I'd be staying with my grandparents, and to pack a suitcase. They didn't say how long I'd be staying, and when I asked, my mom gave that disappointed sigh like she could never get a break, and my dad said in exasperation, "Just get clothes, Clayton. Clothes to wear to school." And I dropped the topic.

I was thirteen. I was not good at dressing myself, and 'dress' almost feels like it's too strong a word for what I was doing. I didn't know what to bring, so I threw several t-shirts in a bag, a few pairs of jeans, underwear, and four pairs of socks. I remember it was four because I didn't bring enough for an entire week of school, and we ended up having to do laundry before the weekend. I hadn't expected to need enough clothes for an entire week of school. I hadn't expected to be staying with them that long.

After a week, I went back home. And then, the next Wednesday, I heard my parents arguing in the middle of the night, screaming at each other. After school Thursday, it was my grandpa who picked me up.

He was my grandfather on my dad's side, a man with thick gray hair and a thick mustache and a broad smile. He always wore a baseball cap. When I saw him, he said, "Hey, Clay! You good with spending the night with us?"

I remember feeling shocked, disoriented. It was five years after the game of chicken, but within the last several months, the effects had hit me harder. I'd started getting awful headaches in the middle of class, ones that hurt so bad it felt like something was clawing at my eyes. I'd begun missing school more frequently. My parents hid it, but the tension in the house had begun to grow, and we could all feel it. They were fighting and pretending they weren't. I was dead and pretending I wasn't.

"Yeah, sure," I said. I took a steadying breath and pulled on my backpack straps.

"You got much homework to do?" He asked as I walked towards his car and climbed in. It sat low to the ground, crouched like it was ready to pounce. He climbed into the driver's seat and started the car, watching me as I put my backpack in the back seat.

"Not much," I said.

"Good, that's good," he said. "Don't forget to buckle."

I pulled the seatbelt across my lap as we began to drive away from the school.

"So--" he said as he watched the road, his head held high and eyebrows raised like that could help him see better. "What do you want for dinner? Do burgers sound good?"

I nodded wordlessly, watching out the window as people passed on the sidewalk. As we entered neighborhoods and approached their house, I saw groups of children playing by the road, giggling and chasing each other. I watched impassively, expression unmoving.

My grandpa sat with me in the silence, not uncomfortable with it. He didn't try to fill it, like most people did. He didn't draw out the word, "Well..." and try to start a new conversation. He just hummed softly to himself, the tune of a Beatles song.

"Do you know how long I'll be staying?" I asked finally. "I don't have any clothes."

"Oh, your mom dropped off a bag for you," he said. "It's got PJs and clothes for tomorrow. It'll just be for the night."

"Yeah," I murmured as my face sunk to rest on my palm. My forehead pressed against the cold glass of the car window and I watched it cloud over with every puff of breath out my nose.

"Your parents just need some time," he said. "Sometimes, parents need time to themselves to talk things over."

"Yeah."

I could feel his eyes watching me, and I knew he knew I didn't believe him. He wasn't upset with it. He just... knew.

"Are you still writing her letters?" He asked.

I glanced at him. "Why would I?"

"Writing can help process emotions. I just didn't know--"

"No," I said suddenly, cutting him off as I turned back to the window. "I'm not writing her letters anymore. She wouldn't respond anyway."

He fell silent, and I did too. We pulled in front of their house, and I climbed out, grabbing my backpack. "Am I going home tomorrow?"

"I don't know," he said. "I think so. Your parents just--"

"Need time," I muttered. "Yeah." I walked up the pathway to their house.

I don't know why I took out that anger and frustration on him. He was one of the only people trying to help, to understand. He was one of the only people who stood up for me. But I was a thirteen-year-old boy. We aren't known for making the most rational choices.

He didn't respond though. He didn't take the bait, or try to argue with me. He just walked up the pathway after me, and when I stopped next to the door, he unlocked it for me to go inside. "Where's grandma?" I asked.

"She's going to be at a ladies group meeting tonight," he said, closing the door behind both of us after we'd walked inside. "It'll just be us. Hope that's not too boring."

"No, it isn't," I said quietly as I set my backpack down by the door.

"We put your stuff in the guest bedroom," he said. "What time do you want to eat? I'll need to grill the burgers."

"I'm fine eating whenever," I said.

"Alright, we'll wait a bit." He pulled his baseball cap off and hung it up next to the door on the coatrack. I watched him for a long moment.

"I'm sorry," I said. He looked back at me.

"It's alright. I know you've got some strong feelings right now."

I nodded and didn't say another word. We played a game of Battleship, ate our burgers, and watched a few gameshows. We didn't talk much. When my grandma got home and asked, "What've you two boys been up to?" I could honestly say, "Nothing." And we hadn't. But it hadn't felt like nothing. It had felt like something.

It had been something.

I stayed there for three nights. I wore the same t-shirt to school two days in a row, and I lied to my classmates and told them I had two of the same shirt. I was falling off on work. Halfway through the third day, I went to the nurse's office with a blinding headache. There was stabbing pain behind my eyes. My grandpa picked me up, and he gave me ibuprofen, and he let me have ice cream in bed in the dark. It was the gentle heat of a raging fire, the yellow in the fall. The grayness had already begun to muddle the air, but if I looked carefully, I could see that spark in his face. I could see the reflection of lightning as he climbed up a ladder and hung the stars for me.

~~~

1186 words

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Fri Dec 23, 2022 7:15 am
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KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!! Halfway, halfway and the previous chapter has gone backwards on the progress with the tissue...not exactly going to get complacent about that though given you said the last bits are the worst.

First Impression: Okay our second mostly wholesome piece in a row, although this one had a bit more tension hanging over it and casting quite the shadow that it only just barely managed to inch out of at the very, very last point.

Anyway let's get right to it,

They told me that I'd be staying with my grandparents, and to pack a suitcase. They didn't say how long I'd be staying, and when I asked, my mom gave that disappointed sigh like she could never get a break, and my dad said in exasperation, "Just get clothes, Clayton. Clothes to wear to school." And I dropped the topic.

I was thirteen. I was not good at dressing myself, and 'dress' almost feels like it's too strong a word for what I was doing. I didn't know what to bring, so I threw several t-shirts in a bag, a few pairs of jeans, underwear, and four pairs of socks. I remember it was four because I didn't bring enough for an entire week of school, and we ended up having to do laundry before the weekend. I hadn't expected to need enough clothes for an entire week of school. I hadn't expected to be staying with them that long.


OOoh well more hints at the parenting situation there mayhaps but it is a little harder to spot here and could very well be explained by things that aren't necessarily parenting related red flags, so let's just keep going here.

He was my grandfather on my dad's side, a man with thick gray hair and a thick mustache and a broad smile. He always wore a baseball cap. When I saw him, he said, "Hey, Clay! You good with spending the night with us?"

I remember feeling shocked, disoriented. It was five years after the game of chicken, but within the last several months, the effects had hit me harder. I'd started getting awful headaches in the middle of class, ones that hurt so bad it felt like something was clawing at my eyes. I'd begun missing school more frequently. My parents hid it, but the tension in the house had begun to grow, and we could all feel it. They were fighting and pretending they weren't. I was dead and pretending I wasn't.

"Yeah, sure," I said. I took a steadying breath and pulled on my backpack straps.


Oooh well this established our little connection to the story at large quite nicely I think. We've jumped a lot further forward in time but you can quite clearly see how despite that nothing has really changed to lessen that powerful blow, not even time seems to have done anything to dull it, in fact it seems to have made it worse if nothing else and the parent situation is now starting to be more obviously bad there too. Well its all drifting towards what I assume ends in those glimpses we saw of the present.

"So--" he said as he watched the road, his head held high and eyebrows raised like that could help him see better. "What do you want for dinner? Do burgers sound good?"

I nodded wordlessly, watching out the window as people passed on the sidewalk. As we entered neighborhoods and approached their house, I saw groups of children playing by the road, giggling and chasing each other. I watched impassively, expression unmoving.

My grandpa sat with me in the silence, not uncomfortable with it. He didn't try to fill it, like most people did. He didn't draw out the word, "Well..." and try to start a new conversation. He just hummed softly to himself, the tune of a Beatles song.


Hmm this is quite interesting to see here. I might hazard a guess and say that just maybe the grandpa is a stronger figure than some others have been (so naturally I am terrified of his safety) and this interesting to see it all stews together. On the surface the conversation is so normal and so simple, but there is definitely very obvious tension here.

"Yeah," I murmured as my face sunk to rest on my palm. My forehead pressed against the cold glass of the car window and I watched it cloud over with every puff of breath out my nose.

"Your parents just need some time," he said. "Sometimes, parents need time to themselves to talk things over."

"Yeah."

I could feel his eyes watching me, and I knew he knew I didn't believe him. He wasn't upset with it. He just... knew.


Hmm well this is certainly supporting the idea that especially in this turmoil with the parents clearly not being able to actually be there for Clay, the grandpa is someone that's at the very least somewhat reliable if not the person who actively ends up helping Clay out massively.

"No," I said suddenly, cutting him off as I turned back to the window. "I'm not writing her letters anymore. She wouldn't respond anyway."

He fell silent, and I did too. We pulled in front of their house, and I climbed out, grabbing my backpack. "Am I going home tomorrow?"

"I don't know," he said. "I think so. Your parents just--"

"Need time," I muttered. "Yeah." I walked up the pathway to their house.


Well that conversation was somehow both reassuring and very tense at the same time. I think it makes sense though for someone in a situation quite like that. It feels like Clay is allowed to be comfortable enough with his grandfather to release a bit of frustration and that's where especially that ending seems to come from. It also speaks volumes to how everything else seems to have gone for poor Clay here.

I don't know why I took out that anger and frustration on him. He was one of the only people trying to help, to understand. He was one of the only people who stood up for me. But I was a thirteen-year-old boy. We aren't known for making the most rational choices.

He didn't respond though. He didn't take the bait, or try to argue with me. He just walked up the pathway after me, and when I stopped next to the door, he unlocked it for me to go inside. "Where's grandma?" I asked.

"She's going to be at a ladies group meeting tonight," he said, closing the door behind both of us after we'd walked inside. "It'll just be us. Hope that's not too boring."


Hmm well more interesting thoughts to be explored there. I sense something akin to regret within the way that Clay goes on there. I mean my paranoia is enough to think the grandpa might end up facing something horrible at this point but even if that isn't the case and the grandpa just was lost to time and nature the point of this regret seems to still stand quite strongly here.

"I'm sorry," I said. He looked back at me.

"It's alright. I know you've got some strong feelings right now."


AHHH this is such a simple little moment but it truly speaks volumes to the rest of the thoughts here because better than any of those reflections or anything, this two lines of dialogue showcases the grandpa really did understand and really did try to the best of what he could.

I stayed there for three nights. I wore the same t-shirt to school two days in a row, and I lied to my classmates and told them I had two of the same shirt. I was falling off on work. Halfway through the third day, I went to the nurse's office with a blinding headache. There was stabbing pain behind my eyes. My grandpa picked me up, and he gave me ibuprofen, and he let me have ice cream in bed in the dark. It was the gentle heat of a raging fire, the yellow in the fall. The grayness had already begun to muddle the air, but if I looked carefully, I could see that spark in his face. I could see the reflection of lightning as he climbed up a ladder and hung the stars for me.


Ahh this is a beautiful. Surprisingly sweet once again and perhaps for the first time in this entire experience we're faced with something that is genuinely sweet and not so tarnished just yet because we don't yet know the fate of the grandfather or how things developed since this moment but for now we're freezing seeing the grandpa was a kind and understanding soul that made some positive contribution to Clay.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, another wonderful addition to this tale, the progression of how Clay dealt with Dessie's death is going along nicely. Its all surprisingly managed to go forward and forward despite the times jumping around a little. We'll see where we go next.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sat Dec 17, 2022 11:40 pm
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SilverNight wrote a review...



winterrrrrrrr :] I am running out of greetings to preface these reviews because it gets harder to say something along the lines of “it’s been a while since I reviewed this” on a review day but trust that I am always happy to see you and your writing XD

They told me that I'd be staying with my grandparents, and to pack a suitcase. They didn't say how long I'd be staying, and when I asked, my mom gave that disappointed sigh like she could never get a break, and my dad said in exasperation, "Just get clothes, Clayton. Clothes to wear to school." And I dropped the topic.


Ooh I like the choice you made to start the chapter with “they” which is more interesting than just “my parents”. It’s sort of ominous and therefore better of a hook I think? I also didn’t have to read very far afterwards to determine who it referred to, so it didn’t feel like an intro to a paranormal story either, nice job balancing that XD

I didn't know what to bring, so I threw several t-shirts in a bag, a few pairs of jeans, underwear, and four pairs of socks. I remember it was four because I didn't bring enough for an entire week of school, and we ended up having to do laundry before the weekend. I hadn't expected to need enough clothes for an entire week of school. I hadn't expected to be staying with them that long.


YES. This is a good detail! In a story that’s so full of memories, some of them quite old and/or some of them seemingly “mundane” without a narrator that reads into them, I love knowing what Clay remembers about it and why he remembers that thing. Having a small, supposedly forgettable detail that he has a realistic reason for remembering and also has some deeper meaning to it of him being away from home longer than planned because of an ongoing problem he doesn’t yet understand shows that you put a lot of thought into this and have a good understanding of how we normally remember things!

And then, the next Wednesday, I heard my parents arguing in the middle of the night, screaming at each other.


Awwwww noooooo I have a feeling that I know where this is leading eventually :(

It was five years after the game of chicken, but within the last several months, the effects had hit me harder. I'd started getting awful headaches in the middle of class, ones that hurt so bad it felt like something was clawing at my eyes. I'd begun missing school more frequently.


Winter, I think something is definitely up with the migraines so if that’s the case (it seems like it is) I’m onto you >.>

"So--" he said as he watched the road, his head held high and eyebrows raised like that could help him see better. "What do you want for dinner? Do burgers sound good?"


I like this characterization! He seems like a nice grandpa and Clay really needs someone like that XD you’re too mean to him >:(

As we entered neighborhoods and approached their house, I saw groups of children playing by the road, giggling and chasing each other. I watched impassively, expression unmoving.


Yessss another good background/setting detail that is sure to hurt.

"Are you still writing her letters?" He asked.

I glanced at him. "Why would I?"

"Writing can help process emotions. I just didn't know--"

"No," I said suddenly, cutting him off as I turned back to the window. "I'm not writing her letters anymore. She wouldn't respond anyway."


Ohhhh this is interesting. I don’t think I remember hearing that they were exchanging letters after Dessie moved away, nothing about her new life. This feels strange because I thought he missed her/never heard from her again… I’m intrigued because I think there’s something going on here >.>

But I was a thirteen-year-old boy. We aren't known for making the most rational choices.


Pffff no XD

My grandpa picked me up, and he gave me ibuprofen, and he let me have ice cream in bed in the dark. It was the gentle heat of a raging fire, the yellow in the fall. The grayness had already begun to muddle the air, but if I looked carefully, I could see that spark in his face. I could see the reflection of lightning as he climbed up a ladder and hung the stars for me.


sdfjksdfsf the LOVE from both of them in this part has my heart aching. This is seriously beautiful and lovely imagery. I also love his grandpa now because ahhhhhh this is so so so tender and sweet.

I think that’s all I’ve got for you in this part! On to the next one c:

-silv <3





"I think; therefore, I am."
— René Descartes