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Father of the Week

Daniel just couldn’t help but laugh as he pulled up in his best friend's drive that Saturday afternoon. Aaron's parents belonged to some kind of prestigious country club that was always giving bullsh*t rewards for one thing or another. Today, the yard sign read "Father of the Week." Daniel couldn't help but wonder exactly how much money it took to buy that label.

"Bloody ridiculous," he muttered darkly to himself, flicking his long, blonde hair out of his eyes as he rang the doorbell to the Kinsley’s home. He forced a smile, however, when the Mrs. Kinsley opened the door and ushered him inside.

"G'day, Mrs. K!" Daniel chirped with fake enthusiasm. His best friend's mother always scared him a little.

"Is Aaron almost ready?"

"He'll be down shortly," was her rather cold reply.

Daniel had been taking Aaron to work weekend nights for the past month or so. Aaron had been driving his very own red Honda Civic, but his father had taken it away after a horrible spat. Daniel didn't know what it was about, but he did know that he'd never in his life seen his mate so upset. Thus, in order to make things right again, he'd volunteered his services. And now he was stuck here with his friend's stoic mother as Aaron took way too long to get dressed as usual.

"Alright! I said I will, leave me alone!"

"Don't you dare speak to me that way young man! I'll leave you alone when I d*mn well feel like it! Now, get your arse out of that door before I kick you out!"

Daniel kept his eyes firmly rooted to the floor as he listened to Aaron and his father fight all the way upstairs. Having been friends with him since grade school, Daniel was more than used to the flow of harsh words that seemed to be a part of the everyday Kinsley family soundtrack, but even though he was used to it, it never got any more comfortable to listen to.

"Come on, let's go!" Daniel was shaken out of his thoughts by an anxious hand on his arm, and the next thing he knew, he was standing in the warm Melbourne night with his friend by his side. The soundtrack had been paused for the time being.

Once they were inside his car and on their way to the Movie Plaza where Aaron worked, Daniel decided to give in to his curiosity.

"So, gonna tell me what that was all about, mate?"

There was a drawn out sigh, and Daniel noticed not for the first time how exhausted his friend truly looked.

"Oh, you know my dad. Always getting on me for one thing or another. Apparently he's tired of his son dressing 'like a d*mn fairy.' He says he expects me to take my paycheck from last week and buy a whole new wardrobe."

"Ah," was really all Daniel could say to that. Aaron did have a tendency of dressing in skin tight, black clothes and had even been caught in eye liner on numerous occasions. Daniel didn't mind of course, but Mr. Kinsley was the very definition of a straight-edge "bloke" and he was only surprised the man had let his son get away with it for as long as he had.

"Don't 'Ah' me! You know good and well that I need these clothes! I don't feel comfortable in anything else."

Daniel did know that. Aaron had tried many times to explain it to him. He still didn't quite understand how clothes could be so important, but he respected his friend’s feelings on the matter.

"Well, don't bother with it, then. Not like you've never disobeyed your old man before."

Too late, Daniel realized he'd said something wrong. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Aaron bow his head. Looking closer, he noticed a pronounced shiver coursing through the boy's body.

"Aaron? What's wrong, mate? You okay?"

"I-Yea, I'm fine."

Luckily, there were not too many cars the road this time of day, and Daniel was able to easily pull over onto the shoulder.

"Alright, obviously you're not fine. Come on, now. Talk to me, Aaron."

"It's just. . . I can't do what you said. About disobeying him. Not this time."

The boy was still shaking pretty violently, and he had pulled himself into a tight ball. Daniel hurried to unbuckle himself and Aaron, and pulled his friend into his arms.

"Shhh. Hey, now. Come on, mate. I was just joking about that, anyway. It's gonna be okay. Hey, come on. What's wrong, Aaron? Talk to me."

Aaron sniffed and pulled himself tighter into Daniel's embrace.

"I'm scared, Danny."

"Scared of what?" He asked, but slowly comprehension began to dawn on him. "Scared of your Dad?"

Aaron simply nodded.

Daniel saw red.

"What happened?! What did that bastard do?!"

"N-nothing, Dan. He just...He's been drinking a lot recently, and yelling even more. I'm sure you've noticed. But, today, when we were upstairs, he grabbed me by the neck. Not hard enough to bruise or anything, but it still kind of hurt, and then he threw me to the ground!"

Aaron was openly crying now, huge tears running down his cheeks, and he looked so fragile and sad, that Daniel couldn't help but raise a hand to wipe them away.

"I really don't know what I did to make him so mad. I didn't mean to."

"No, of course you didn't Aar. Your dad's...he's got a problem, and he's taking it out on you. It's not right, but it's not your fault! Don't think that for a second, okay?"

Aaron gave his friend a shaky smile and nodded his head.

"I don't know what to do, Dan."

"...Neither do I, I'm afraid. I'm so sorry, Aaron."

"Hey, no worries," he said with a smile that was starting to look real again. "Thanks for listening, Daniel."

"I'm always here for you, Aaron. You know that, right?"

Aaron just looked straight into his eyes and smiled a smile so full of love, trust, and thanks, that Daniel was only too willing to return it.

Five hours later, Aaron had finished his 6:00 shift at the movies, and Daniel had brought him back home, making sure he was safe inside before he got back in his car.

As he backed out of the drive, his eyes were caught by the glint of a street light shining off a white, plastic board. And as he saw the big bold letters written so proudly on the sign in the yard ("Father of the Week!"), Daniel just couldn't help but run it down into the mud.
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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