He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 8

Chopin – Heroic Polonaise (Op. 53 in A Flat Major)

After school Valerie was still in Uncle Rance’s Freshmen English Classroom, not because she was re-taking his Freshmen English Class, but because he had asked her to stay and not ride the bus.  He was her Uncle.  Married to her father’s only sister.  And he was one of those adults she had to listen to no matter what.

“Your grades are going down again, Val.  You used to make A’s, especially in Science.”

“I know.  I just don’t get Mr. Walther’s Physics Class.”

“He’s the same teacher you had for Chemistry last year, and you aced that.  You were his best student.”

“Yeah.  But Danny was in that class too.  He flunked it as a Junior.  And he’s the only one that can explain some of Mr. Walther’s jokes to me.”

“You don’t need to understand jokes to get the science.  It is precise and mathematical, provable by experiment.”

“I know that.  But somehow Mr. Walther’s teaching style works better when I understand his jokes.”

Uncle Rance walked over to his desk and sat down behind a huge pile of Freshman writing folders.

“Your Uncle Dash is coming to take you home this evening.”

“What?  Why?”

“You have to ask after the fiasco at the dance?”

“Oh, please.  He doesn’t need to get mad at me over that.  The same thing would’ve happened to me if you had gone with me instead of Uncle Dash.  It wasn’t about him.”

“I think he knows that.  But we’re worried about you.”

“That’s it exactly,” Uncle Dash said from the classroom doorway.

“Hi, I could’ve gone home on the bus.”

“No, you couldn’t.  I needed to talk to you.”

“Come in and take a seat, Dash,” Uncle Rance said.  “Or do you need to talk to her in private.”

“No, you can help with this too.  Valerie needs to know that she can rely on the men in this family when it comes to things her father can’t do for her anymore.”

“So, you do understand why I couldn’t handle being at that dance, huh?”

“Of course.  You told me flat out.  It was a father/daughter dance.  And I’m not Kyle.”

A sharp sob escaped Valerie’s lips, and then she was back to her usual composure.  “It’s so much more than that.  More than I could ever talk about with either of you.”

“The school guidance counselor?  He’s overworked with college-readiness seminars and whatnot.  But he’s willing to do what he can.”


“What can we do to help, then?” Uncle Rance asked.

“I don’t know.  Nothing, I guess.  My head is wrapped in darkness.  And I have to find my own way out.”

“But you know you can talk to either of us,” said Uncle Rance.

“Or your Aunt Jen.  Or Aunt Patty,” said Uncle Dash, naming his sister and his wife.


“What do you mean, no, Val?”  Uncle Dash’s eyes betrayed the stinging in his heart.  Val’s words at the dance had hurt him deeply.  And he was the kind of man who always had to have the solution to every problem.

“Just no.  I mean, I appreciate that you want to help.  But it won’t work.  I have to find my own way out.”

“Stacy had to find her own way out too, and she ran away.  Promise me you won’t run away too!”  Dash’s face was grim and stiff, betraying what he feared she really would do.  And Valerie understood why.  Her cousin had run away to be with the man she loved.  But Uncle Dash could never approve of the restless and reckless Toad.  He still didn’t after all the intervening years.  The men in her life were too tightly wound, too strictly self-disciplined to know when to admit they were wrong and try to go down another pathway.

“Maybe we just need to have confidence in Valerie, Dash,” Uncle Rance said.  “Sometimes the right thing to do is trust that the other person will choose to do the right thing.”

“I still need to hear you say you won’t run away, Val.  Not like Stacy did.”

“I promise.  There are things ahead you’re probably not gonna like.  But running away is not on my list.”

Her two Uncles accepted that then.  And what followed was a long, quiet pickup-ride home courtesy of Dash Clarke.

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Filed under daughters, family, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

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