So this isn't as long as my other one, but I don't mind too much. To be fair, I actually like this one better! So... yeah!
Guys, this week was my week against Promissa Fidel. MWAHAHAHHAHAHA! So I hit as hard as I could! This time, with a quote! The quote, which I will put in it's usual place, was the prompt of this story. And before you even think of it, no, I had no idea what I was going to do with it either. There was no advantage on either side. I just looked up "quotes about parents and their kids" and copied and pasted the one I loved the most. So... here it is! Challenge number 2!
A quick recap, because I didn't really give one.
Each challenge will be submitted on (or around) midnight of every Monday (unless announcement says otherwise). Next week is her week and I will be recieving the prompt either tonight or tomorow! Cannot wait!
And yes, I know that this isn't midnight when I'm submitting. But I work ten hour days... so forgive me... I really do need the sleep. And going to sleep at midnight just isn't going to happen. So so so so so sorry Promissa Fidel, but this was necessary to make sure I stay alive!
Alright! Onto the oneshot!
And after you read this, go on over to "Of a Dog and His Boy" to see what she's cooked up! I cannot wait to see it!
We're taught to expect unconditional love from our parents, but I think it is more the gift our children give us. It's they who love us helplessly, no matter what or who we are..
The first time Sherman said, "I love you" was when he'd learned how to say it. It was also the first day that Mr. Peabody felt truly inadequate, but we're not going to call it that, as it sounds a lot more positive to simply leave out the latter.
Sherman hardly knew of the existence of "love" until he was four years old. Not that he didn't know what it was. In the immortal words of A. A. Milne in the voice of Piglet, "you don't spell it, you feel it". Regardless of that charming fact, it was always hard for Sherman to voice just how he felt for his father. Mr. Peabody always used big words such as 'admiration' and 'appreciation' and 'gratitude' and 'idolization'. All of them hard on a four year olds tongue. And not only were they hard to say, but the robotic sounds they made when they came out were horrible and tasteless, as if he'd sampled frozen yogurt but was craving ice cream.
The first time the word had made itself known was by the master wordsmith Shakespeare himself. Peabody was fairly well acquainted with the man, and he was fond of the dog and his ward. They didn't go often, but every few months it was always nice to pop by and watch the man write away.
"Dids't though enjoy my newest creation, Peabody?" The man had poked his head over a stack of cloth tied manuscripts, quill bouncing by his left ear.
"We found it thoroughly engaging, didn't we Sherman." When it looked as though Sherman was going to wrinkle his nose his father gave him a sharp look and he quickly nodded.
"Yes, sir." the boy said quickly, then went back to solving the wooden puzzle by the hearth. He hadn't hated the play exactly, but Julius Caesar, no matter how grand of scale, proved to be boring to a small child.
"Wonderful! I have much more planned. You and thy ward shall have seats by Her Majesty when gazing upon my newest masterpiece." He raised the paper he was writing on in the air, so both dog and boy could see it over the large stacks still concealing him. "And, if I be straight with you, it is sure to be the prize of my collection. And the ending will be the bugbear of them all, you shall see!"
Peabody smiled knowingly. "I'm sure that it will be."
"Let me tell you what it entails." He cleared his throat, standing, his head finally coming into view. "Sherman, my boy, you will quite enjoy this one. I assure you that it gives my last one a baste."
"I'm sure, sir," the tiny redheads voice piped up, polite as ever.
"You see, it is a story of two houses at war."
"Why would two buildings be at war?"
"No, Sherman," Peabody teased the boys hair, "not houses as in locations. As in family units."
"Two houses at war," Shakespeare began once again, no less enthusiastically, "And the youngest of both houses, little Romeo and Juliet, find the other at a grand ball. And at once they share a great admiration for each other." That was a word Sherman knew, and he smiled, just slightly. "And soon, like stars reaching cross God's heavens, they are in love."
Sherman tilted his head, "They're what?"
"In love!" Shakespeare threw his hands in the air dramatically. Then he realized that the context wasn't quite what he was thinking. That the boy wasn't asking because he hadn't heard, but he was asking because he didn't know. His arms deflated, followed by his face and finally his eyes, which lost their sparkle and were quickly shrouded over in a type of conflicted grief.
"You no not of love, Sherman?"
Peabody waved the man off. "Of course he knows of love, Shakespear. It is a commonplace emotion amoungst most of the human population and is expressed in the highest of manners."
"But the boy just said-"
"I am sure," the dog inturupted, once more sticking his nose in the air, "that this is just a problem dealing with your vocabulary."
Shakespeare, master wordsmith of his time (and centuries beyond it) practically jolted upwards at the insult. "How dare thee question my vocabulary. I use only the finest words meant to quench both heart and soul!"
Peabody sighed. "My apologies, Shakespeare. I simply meant that my son knows it by other words." He turned towards his boy. "Love, Sherman. You know. A deep regard for another person."
"Oooh…" The boy, now understanding, turned back towards his puzzle but was quickly swept up by an ever enthusiastic playwright who dumped him unceremoniously down on a tabletop, kneeling to face the startled boy.
"No! Sherman, no! Love is not regard!" He glared at Peabody. "Your father teaches you wrong. Love is… it's…" he pondered. "It is an emotion with no bounds, no endings or beginnings. It encompasses you, takes over thy soul and body and heart 'till you would die for the other. Love and regard? Bah. There is no semblance of a connection between the two. Love between father and child, partners, husbands, wives, lovers- it spans beyond the stars!" And he leapt up next to Sherman, pointing one finger towards the ceiling in one final dramatic display of passion.
Sherman sat there for a moment, staring up at Shakespear. He didn't look confused or baffled, nor did he seem upset. He just seemed to be thinking hard and long. Then his face lit up and; "Hey, Mr. Peabody!"
The dog, who had been in the middle of planting his paw to his forehead, rubbed his eyes under thick rimmed glasses with a weak groan of, "Yes, Sherman?"
"I love you!"
And Mr. Peabody had never been so stunned in his life.
He'd later use that as an excuse to why he didn't respond.
He'd later look back and that excuse and regret it.
The second time Sherman said "I love you" was on the fourth fathers day of him being alive. Sherman had just turned four and a half, a birthday his father said didn't exist, but Sherman stuck to with the most amazing amount of passion.
The boys allowance was five dollars a week; a hefty sum when all you really bought at that age were essentials such as gumballs and crayons. So generally money was spent on little things for himself while gifts were that in the form of drawings. But that fathers day had been different. He'd truly wanted to get something special, something memorable.
However, something memorable is hard to come by when fathers day lands on the second week of the month, and you've only acquired a measly ten dollars of allowance to show for it. So getting him a new generator or a telescope wasn't going to happen. He wasn't even sure that three lemonade sales would cover it entirely. But he was a determined child who did love his father very much.
As any scientist would do when faced with a problem he came up with a hypothesis (the best gift for Mr. Peabody is something he doesn't have) and went towards steps that would ultimately lead him towards a solution.
It was harder than he would have ever imagined. Seeing as Mr. Peabody had everything there wasn't much out there to get. He had a time machine, cooking skills, a piano, a library filled with first editions of every book and access to any place in the U.S. or abroad imaginable. So when the idea of what to get him struck, Sherman was rather pleased that he had ever come up with it at all.
Leonaro DeVinci, who Sherman spoke to while his father spoke to one of the famous Italian man's friends, seemed to love the idea.
"Sherman, it is'a great plan!" He waved his arms in the air, each word a gesture. "I will'a get you everything you'a need. You can even do the work in my studio!"
He was waved off, as if the generous offer was nothing more than a slight suggestion. "Why'a not? You are responsible boy, no? And paint will show better on'a canvas!"
For the next two hours the boy tirelessly dipped his fingers into organic fresh chalked paints, wrinkling his nose as the smells. Lines were drawn across the grainy surface of the canvas beginning to sore his poor fingers. He wooshed and zoomed and looped and created with colors and ideas and words and feelings. And when he stepped back he was shows his masterpiece; a mess. A very honest, very loving, very humble mess if he did say so himself, and he was fiercely proud of it.
It took a few hours to dry, enough time for Peabody to finish his lecture on the sun being the center of the Universe, the idea of constellations and the knowledge of our current world of millions of universes in the galaxy. There was also enough time between then and him being called a heretic, a threat to the king and a spawn of evil in society. And enough time after that for him to run as fast as he could from angry philosophers who, somehow, acquired weapons of mass destruction, aka pitchforks and a globe, in a matter of seconds. But when it was all said and done the package was signed, sealed and wrapped and carried back with them across time and space to be placed in a corner of Shermans room until the time to unveil it was right.
And that time was exactly three days later.
"Mr. Peabody, WAKE UP!"
The dog shot out of his bed with a yelp. The boy who also now shared it, sitting at the end from where he'd been jumping, stared at him with a wide, guilty smile. Not that the dog could see that. He just glared at the boy until he was able to retrieve and don his glasses. And then when he could see the boy, he glared at him some more.
"Sherman, do I even want to find out the reasons behind this very early wake?"
Sherman bit his lip, bounced a moment more, then toyed with the twine that tied the brown paper package the dog now realized he held in his lap. "Oh… sorry, Mr. Peabody."
"An explanation would suffice over an apology, Sherman."
"Right… sorry…" the boy's eyes flickered up, then back down at the light blue bedspread. "Um… it's fathers day…"
"Is it really!?" He had forgotten. Because usually he was so good at dates. But a quick look at the calender beside his bed sent his head reeling. "Fathers day! I'd forgotten. Right, well, there's much to be done then, isn't there? We should take a trip, just the two of us I suppose. How does eighteenth century Rome sound to you? Or perhaps just a ride past the hubble? I do think I would love to explore the father reaches of the galaxy." He chuckled at his own wit, then realized that a small boy had failed to even join him. He tilted his head, a terribly dog like thing to do, but he didn't think of that at the moment. "Sherman? Is something wrong?"
And then the package was being shoved into his face.
"happyfathersdaymrpeabody!" The boy said quickly, before scuttling back once again across the expanses of bed towards the safety of the end of it.
Peabody gave him an odd look, but did indeed tear away the paper.
It was a painting.
Not a very good one. But if you'd asked Peabody… he'd have told you it was fine. When, truthfully, behind the mask of always present coolness, he thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world. The picture was of the two of them. Stick figure versions, all the Sherman could really handle at the age. Behind them, a background of other colorful stickfigures. People they'd met on expeditions; George Washington, Queen Elizabeth, Hemingway, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, DeVinci and an assortment of others.
There was some writing below the picture. Messy, with a few of the words spelled wrong. However, for one of the few times in his life, the grammatical errors did nothing to phase him.
Yur my Hero.
I luv yoo
"D'ya like it?"
The boy broke through the stunned barrier he'd been left looked up at him, cleared his throat, and said nothing. Then he put the painting to the side. "Yes… Yes, Sherman. It's very… nice. I lo-like how you placed everyone in order of their historical era. It shows true insight."
He expected his son to be disappointed, but the smile that lit the boys face was blinding. "Thanks Mr. Peabody!"
He'd later say the words had been an excuse to shower the boy with praise on his astute recognition of past historical figures.
He'd later look back and that excuse and regret it.
The third time Sherman said "I love you" had been on his first tour of the Titanic's boiler room when he was six years old.
Mr. Peabody had seen it before and memorized each dial and took that lay strewn on it's walls and floors. He knew of every dysfunction and marveled still at the handiwork involved. But the narrow quarters were hard to navigate with a group larger than two, and so one of the trusted men in management, a man that Peabody had grown to trust and knew, sadly, would not be a survivor, had opted to take him.
"It'll be good for the lad to see true skilled workers!" The man had declared, motioning towards the red head, who was bouncing on his heels in excitement.
"I don't know…" Peabody looked down the narrow passage that would lead into even narrower ones. He wrang his paws. "There's just… lots of things could go wrong, statistically, and-"
"Oh please Mr. Peabody!" Sherman tugged on his arm. The boy didn't beg often, but when he did he was as skilled as a puppy. "Ple-eee-ease!?"
"Sherman, it's dangerous, and I don't quite know if I'm comfortable leaving you in the hands of another." He tried to wring his paws again, but it was getting harder with the five year old hanging off of him, collapsing into dead weight.
"Peabody, old friend, there is nothing I can't handle!" The man's smile was warm as he leaned against one of the metal walls. "I'll take good care of him and return him in good condition. Well… maybe missing a hand or two." He winked at the boy, who giggled, for once getting a joke.
"Yeah, Mr. Peabody! I'll be fine! Please! Please! Pleaaaaa-"
"Fine! Fine, Sherman." He rubbed his temples. "Fine but… be careful, alright?"
"Yeah, yeah, okay," Sherman wasn't really listening, just looking wistfully down the hall.
"Sherman, I'm serious!"
The boy groaned. "I will, Mr. Peabody!"
The dog sighed. "Alright. Be polite to the men."
"And don't touch any red buttons."
"And if you really need to go to the bathroom just-"
"Fine, fine. Go have fun." Before he knew what was happening there were arms thrown around him, squeezing his middle with as much strength as the five year old could muster. "Thanks! I love you Mr. Peabody!"
Before he could so much as hug back, the boy was gone, running after the man into a labyrinth he daren't follow into.
He'd later say the boy had run off too fast, and that's why he couldn't say anything in return.
He'd later look back and that excuse and regret it.
That day, though, Peabody heard the words two times.
"Did you like the tour, Sherman?"
"Was it… good?"
"Was Mr. Krinton cordial towards you?"
"... Did you like Mr. Krinton?"
That at least got a ghost of a smile over the boys face. "Yeah… he was funny…" came the soft words.
The two sat in silence for another moment. Then-
"Mr. Peabody?" The boy was staring down at his hands, unusually silent. Especially after, what Mr. Peabody could only assume had been, a top notch tour from a funny and charismatic man.
"Mr. Krinton… he's going to die… isn't he?"
"Yes, Sherman. He is."
Peabody steered the ship with less gusto now, his stomach heavy, his eyes forward. And then;
"I love you, Mr. Peabody."
He'd later say he hadn't heard the words… or even that he didn't understand why they'd been said…. as an excuse to why he didn't respond…
He'd regret that one more.
The fourth time Sherman said "I love you" was when he was exactly sixth years old on his birthday.
He hadn't expected the lavish present he'd been given by any means. Usually he received something of a scientific sort of type. Like that one year he'd gotten a dinosaur textbook (one of his most prized possessions) or the year he'd gotten a building kit to construct the molecular shells of elements.
But this year had been special.
So when he'd opened up the package to reveal a picture of a bunk bed, he'd been stunned.
"You've been requesting one for quite a while," his father explained, after he'd rambled nervously about structure and safety components and promises to not jump off and try to be a World War fighter pilot after ejecting with a parachute. "And I thought that you were old enough to finally take on the responsibility of not disobeying the rules that come with it."
"I won't, Mr. Peabody!" his boy said breathlessly, "I really won't! I swear!"
"I know you wont."
"And now it'll be great because I can have friends over to sleep at our house!" His face lit up. "Mr. Peabody! School starts soon! I can meet people to invite over! Maybe they can all sleep over! Mr. Peabody please, you gotta let me have a cool sleepover party! It'll be so great!"
"Slow down, Sherman." The dog chuckled. "School doesn't start for another year." The boys face dropped, and Peabody was quick to add a positive, not wanting that fact to spoil his day. "But I think that when you do meet people it will be a grand idea to have them over. I cannot think of a better activity. And perhaps," he added, mirth in his voice, "in the meantime, you can set up the ceiling solar system that I got for you."
"You got me a solar system!"
Peabody gestured to one of the still unopened packages. "And they're scale models when perfectly measured next to a coin. And…" he paused, because the fact was not as important of fascinating, "they glow in the dark." Apparently that was the point that Sherman liked the most, much to Peabody's slight disappointment. But he could have guessed that something like that would have been the focus. And at the very least his boy was smiling again.
"Now, before we open the rest of the gifts, why not go and eat dinner. I made your favorite."
"Grilled cheese!" Because once a year the beagle dropped all culinary training to stick to the simplicities children seemed to crave more.
"Sweet!" He looked down at the picture of the bunk beds once again. "Thanks Mr. Peabody! This is… pretty fantastic!" And before the dog could said anything else, "I love you!"
"... Let's go eat dinner, shall we?" And the boy happily complied.
He would later say that he had avoided answering the affectionate words in order to move his son into the kitchen, serve him his favorite food, wrap up his birthday with a bang.
He'd later look back and that excuse and regret it.
The fifth time Sherman said "I love you" was when he was seven and a half and it was after one of the only fights he'd had in school.
It was also the first time that Mr. Peabody responded.
"I love you, Mr. Peabody."
"I have a deep regard for you as well, Sherman."
Mr. Peabody would later say that he had said that because he was simply confused as to why Sherman would even fight- he hadn't been thinking clearly.
He'd later look back at that excuse and regret it.
The sixth time that "I love you" was said, Sherman didn't have to say it at all.
There hadn't been a reason. No birthday, no fathers day, no discussion of loss.
Just a dog and his boy and New York City below them. Two beings who existed to belong together and always, seemingly, be separated by too many factors. It was all too often that Peabody looked over those factors and a wave of appreciation washed over him. Sometimes he wondered, truly, what would have happened if he had lost the court trial. That thought alone scared him.
The thought that terrified him more; would the past him have cared.
There were always doubts in parenthood. Always mingling fears that you were doing it wrong, that one mistake could ruin it all, that what you give isn't enough, even though what you give is equal to water overfilling a glass.
And sometimes, in every parents life, they have to realize that, though they give as much as they can, the other party will always give more.
Mr. Peabody's thoughts drummed around about that as he stared out the window towards the just visible stars above the New York lights. It was rare to see them at all. But there had been a power outage due to a flood downtown, and even his own penthouse was dark. They'd set up candles and sat together, dog and boy, by the window, just looking and staring.
Both were quiet. Which was unusual.
By this time Sherman would have been going on about that time his friend saw a ghost during a power outage, and maybe it was the zombies all coming to get them. And Mr. Peabody would have quickly given facts to disprove that, then would have gone into an hour long lecture into the patterns of the sky and the star nurseries that inhabited them.
But tonight it was silence. Pure and rich.
A few horns blazed. In apartments just visible to them, candles, like their own, flickered in windows. The water around staten island sloshed, so far away they could barely hear it, but it was there.
Peabody looked at Sherman.
It was odd, he supposed, that most children grew up under the supervision of a dog. And even odder still, a dog who hardly knew how to show affection. But Sherman had never minded either. He'd never questioned his father, always knowing him as the person who had given him everything. And even when one of those everythings couldn't be… verbal love… he'd given Peabody that himself. And hadn't thought anything of it.
The boy was odd, that was for sure. And Mr. Peabody wouldn't have had it any other way.
He looked back out the window, hooking an arm around his son, who was just beginning to nod off. The red hair bobbed and finally, his head lolled against his father's shoulder.
"I love you, Sherman." The words came without shame, without excuses.
"... love… you… too…. 'ster… p'body…" his son breathed, slipping off into a blissful sleep.
That time, when Mr. Peabody looked back, he regretted nothing.
Hope that that was satisfactory! A little shorter than what I normally do, only a bit under 4,000 words, but still. Long enough, I suppose.
Again, go over to Promissa Fidel's page and check out what she has! I cannot wait to see and review! What she has is always sure to take mine, bury it, dance on it's grave, then resurect it just to show itself off then do the process all over again. YOU'RE ALL SURE TO LOVE IT! GO SEE IT ASAP!
And Promissa Fidel, this is the best worst idea I've ever had on this site. I hope that you are loving/hating it as much as I am!