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Only One Way

For the last couple years, Peter Schaefer has been a flash fiction dynamo. Unless he's sick, fighting Centauri spies, or dimension-hopping, he posts 200-word stories at catachresis.shoelesspetegames.com for all to hear. So if you're interested, go read some stories and leave some comments there.
"There's only one way to learn how to swim," Dad said, "and that's to do it." That's when he shoved me into the deep end of the pool. Now that I think of it, I should've been suspicious when he came up behind me. Then I was in the water, splashing and spluttering, and then choking and sinking. My anger was so profound and burned so hot I felt sure I could set him aflame with my rage alone in the moments before I drowned.
Miraculously, I learned how to swim. Even so, I never consciously let Dad stand behind me after that. Not in little league, not going bowling, not for family photos, and especially not at the pool. I'd never tell him how much I loved swimming. I refused to let the ends justify his means.
You can guess we didn't get on too well. He was like that with all his fatherly acts, treating every lesson like some kind of blitzkrieg. Like the summer I came home from the last day of school to find everything packed for a trip to the Grand Canyon. I was pissed, but arguing with Dad was like arguing with being thrown in the pool. You can say whatever you like, gravity's still going to get you wet.
I tried to enjoy the trip. I rode the burros, read the literature, all that. I found peace, too, looking out over the edge of the canyon. I was relaxed enough I didn't even jump when Dad came up behind me.
"There's only one way to learn how to fly," he said.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, December 21st, 2017


This is one of those that began with the end. A single line entered my head, and everything flowed from there.

- Peter A Schaefer

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