Dialogue Essays: Hope

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It took twenty minutes before Simon plucked up the courage to speak.

“Dad,” he licked his lips, “Um, did you look at the letter I gave Mum yesterday?”

His father ignored the question and carried on eating.

Simon looked at his father warily. Dinner times were to be negotiated with care. Normally he’d wolf down his dinner and excused himself before he copped it, but not today. Ever since he’d been sent home with a newsletter about the school trip, that’s all he’d thought about. So desperately did he want to go, he decided to push his luck.

“Dad, Nan said it’d be okay if she gave me my birthday money early, that way it wouldn’t cost a thing.” Expecting to be cut short, Simon paused. “Yeah and, um, loads of other people are going.”
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“You ever talk back to me again and you’ll get a fuckin’ hiding.” His father bellowed, leaning across the table. “Now eat your bastard dinner.”

Fighting back tears, Simon shoved a fork-full of ruined dinner into his mouth. He’d have to make up another excuse to stop the teachers asking questions about his new bruise. Not that he cared. All he could think about was not going on the school trip. It seemed to Simon that if he wanted something, then sure enough he’d not get it.

Laughter from across the table made Simon flinch. His reaction brought about only more laughter and with it Simon’s tears. It seemed his father took pleasure in watching his son squirm.

He rarely cried. The first time his parents separated, Simon, unlike his brother, hadn’t cried. It struck him as odd that he felt no need to. All he wanted was to have a nice family to look after him. The second time it happened, Simon surprised himself by joining in with his brother. His tears lasted until his mother noticed and remarked, ‘Look Pete, even Simon is crying.’ Immediately he stopped.

From when he could remember, Simon felt a weight on his shoulders. Every time they lashed out or said something hurtful, the pressure increased. No matter how he tried to block it out, he heard every word and felt every blow. Simon was an embarrassment, they’d told him so. He understood contempt without knowing its meaning. What hurt him deepest was of his own doing. When the going was good he happily played

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