Too Much Information: Meet the Parents

A quick introduction to the brilliant short story that took 2nd prize in our Easter Writing Competition. With a very different spin on the title the talented author presents a fast-paced and light-hearted story capturing the dizzying heights of young love but with a real twist and sting in the tail.

Too Much Information

A short story by Liam Tague

“Hey, hey, come back here!” Amelia choked out as she chased Nathan across the street-lit car park. She felt her tears streaming back towards her ears from her speed, and stumbled to a halt to take a break from her laughter. Nathan grinned at her from behind his red Cortina, breathing heavily from his short sprint from the doors of the bowling alley. “Told ya’ I’d win!” he called out to her smugly. She recovered from a deep exhale and shot him a look with her eyes that made Nathan just that bit more breathless than he was already. “Oh, I love that boy” Amelia told herself.

 

They were cruising down an unlit back road in New Jersey with the windows rolled down, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” blasting from the car’s stereo system, no seat belts. Amelia paused her car seat dance to wrap her arms around Nathan’s shoulders. “Ahh!” he yelled, swerving the car left and right across the road before stabilizing and glancing over at a now terrified Amelia with a mischievous grin. She punched his arm while laughing with relief. They were heading back to her house for dinner with her parents. She was 17, and this was her first real boyfriend. Wait, was he her boyfriend? I mean, they’d never said they were dating, but… regardless, she couldn’t wait to get back and show her parents this perfect human she’d found.

 

“Hey, does my hair look good?” Nathan asked without taking his eyes from the rear-view mirror. “Yes, Nate” she rolled her eyes with a smirk. The porch light to her house was glowing, and they were about 10 minutes late to dinner. “Hey, come on, you look nice. Let’s just head inside already” she said, starting to get nervous about what her parents might think about their late arrival. “Yeah, yeah, two secs Amelia”. She sighed anxiously and stepped out of the car. Nathan followed her a minute behind after making sure his hair was up to standard. Amelia was waiting for Nathan to reach the door before opening it when she noticed her mother peering out through the living room curtains. “Uh oh” she thought, “Nathan, walk faster”. Her mother opened the door and greeted the two teenagers ecstatically. “Hello! Nathan I’m assuming? Amelia’s told me quite a bit about you!” she said, winking at her daughter and causing her cheeks to flush. Nathan smirked, stretched his arms out behind his head as if he’d just woken from a hundred year long nap. “Yep, y’know, I’m sure she has”. Her mother laughed at his apparent sarcasm, and invited the two in to the dining room.

 

Her dad was already sitting at the head of the table, his hands folded together and his eyes watching the steam rise from his steak and roast vegetables. He glanced up at Amelia and her new date with quite an unfriendly face. He rose up from his chair, and as he did so did the mood of his face, until eventually he was standing up straight, hand outstretched with a grin on his lips, gesturing to greet his daughter’s new interest. “Welcome to the house, sport!” He firmly shook Nathan’s hand. “Strong grip there bud.” Mr. Ford remarked. “Ya’ love to see it!”. “Yep, sure is” Nathan said dryly. “Hey, uh, Mr. Ford, is this food here ready to chow on? Starving”. “Well yes, I suppose it is” Mr. Ford said confusedly, dropping Nathan’s hand. “Lisa, Amelia, we ready to eat?”

 

The clinks of cutlery on silverware and glasses being set down were the only things heard in the room for what felt to Amelia like an eternity. She glanced over at her father, who pretended not to notice her, and brought her gaze over to Nathan who was sitting across from her, digging in to the steak. She noticed he was holding the fork silly, like the way you would hold a salt shaker, and let out a giggle. Nathan looked up at her, confused. “What is it? What’s so funny?” he asked, dead serious, his face expressionless. She paused, now also confused. “The uh… the way you’re holding the fork, Nate” she said, waiting for him to drop the joke. He looked at his hand, then alternated between the 3 Fords and continued eating. Amelia was very confused. “So, Nathan” Lisa said, as if nothing happened. “I heard you’re big into rugby”. “Sure am, Lisa” he scoffed. Amelia and her father looked up at the conversation in surprise; Nathan had just called Amelia’s mother by her first name. Even the majority of Amelia’s girl friends didn’t do that with her mom. Mrs Ford seemed to brush it off, and judging by Nathan’s face, he hadn’t picked up on his choice of words. “I’m probably, like, the best player in the state” Nathan continued, “I’ve had to turn down a good few teams now, they all know how skilled I am and honestly, it’s kind of annoying dude”. There was a short silence. “Well,” Mr Ford said, “if you ever plan on settling down with my lovely daughter here, it’s good to know you can be relied on for a stable income!” he laughed. “Dad!” Amelia squeaked, mortified. “Oh yeah, I’m going professional as soon as I get out of this dump of a school” Nathan chuckled. “Then, I can think about settling down or whatever”. “Sure thing sport, but I’m not looking for grand kids any time soon” Mr Ford said with a joking smile. “Oh my god, dad, stop” Amelia shrunk in her seat. Nathan smirked. “Ha-ha, don’t worry about that, we’re just enjoying ‘practicing’ for now!”

 

The room was silent. Amelia’s parents stared at Nathan in shock, while she sank lower into her seat and looked at the ground through squinted eyes in horror. “I mean, am I right, Amelia?” Nathan said arrogantly, looking at her for confirmation. Slowly, the family resumed their dinner. Nathan sat looking at each of them, wondering what their problem was. He stretched his arms out, yawned loudly and stood up. “Gotta whiz” he said loudly to himself, wandering out into the hallway. Mrs Ford leaned in towards Amelia. “What the hell is the matter with him? Why is he talking about that sort of thing as if it isn’t even funny? Because it definitely isn’t!” she hissed angrily. Mr Ford continued eating his dinner without a word. “And who does he think he is just leaving like that, he doesn’t even know where the restroom is!”. “Mom, I swear he’s usually really sweet, I have no idea what’s going on here” she insisted. “Maybe he’s just nervous?”. Nathan strolled back into the dining room, nodding at her father and shooting finger guns at her mother. He sat down at the table, leaned back in his chair and threw his legs up onto the table, narrowly missing the remainder of his meal. “Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing??” Mrs. Ford snapped at him. He raised an eyebrow at her, shifted in his seat and said “Hey, y’know, I think your steak is a little dry. Stuff’s really stuck in my teeth, I’d probably fix that in the future if I was going to cook for anybody else again. I mean it kinda sucks.” Amelia gasped. Her father slammed his hands down on the table. Her mother stood up, and grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of the chair and onto his feet. “Mom, stop!” Amelia protested in tears. “I want you out of this house, and away from my daughter, you rude pig!” Mrs Ford snarled, escorting him roughly to the front door and out onto the porch. “Seriously, Nathan” she said, exasperated. “Sort out your manners before you come near me or my family again!”. She slammed the door behind him, and headed in to comfort her daughter. “Man, some people just aren’t right in the head, dude” Nathan said to himself, trudging over to his car. “Some people just ain’t right”.

 

 

 

 

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