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PARADISE ISLAND Chapter 3 (Part B)

by belka37 

Posted: 07 February 2010
Word Count: 1716
Summary: The story continues with Jason's struggles to come to terms with his father's post traumatic stress following war service overseas. This section takes up the story immediately following the 'Welcome Home' ceremony attended by the whole family.
Related Works: PARADISE ISLAND Chapter 1 • PARADISE ISLAND Chapter 2 • PARADISE ISLAND Chapter 3 (Part A) • 

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Dad went straight to bed when they got home. Jason looked at his mother. ‘Do you think it would be okay if I invited Greg and Sandy over for a while? I haven’t seen them since Dad came home. We won’t make a lot of noise or anything. Promise.'

Mum tousled Jason’s hair. ‘Yes, yes. Go ahead. You need some balance in your life. It’s not good to spend too much time worrying about your father. He will get better. In the meantime, your friends and going to school are the things that will help you through.’

Jason noticed tears running down his mother’s face. ‘And what about you, Mum? What’s going to help you through?’

She gave a shaky laugh. ‘That’s why I have Auntie Sarah.’ She paused. ‘And on Monday your Dad and I have an appointment at Hollywood Hospital to see an orthopaedic specialist and a social worker. We will all get through this. But it is my job to do the worrying and planning. So off you go now and fetch those boys.’

Jason knew he could have rung them but he hated talking on the phone. Besides a run in the fresh evening air was what he needed right now.

The boys lounged back on the settee and watched lazily as Jason fast forwarded the video through the credits and copyright warnings. ‘Empire of the Sun’ soon filled the screen. He pressed ‘play’ at the opening bars of ‘Suo Gan’,

As soon as the film’s hero, Jamie Graham, began to sing, Greg giggled. ‘What a voice? Do you think he’s a girl?’

Sandy gave him a shove. ‘No, silly. Haven’t you heard of boy sopranos?’

Greg shoved back and soon the two were ducking and
weaving and throwing cushions.

‘Keep it down, you two. You’ll have Dad coming out to see what’s going on.’

Jason flicked the movie on to the written introduction. Sandy promptly performed the ‘voice over; in theatrical tones

In 1941 China and Japan had been in situation of undeclared war for four years. A Japanese army of occupation was in control of much of the countryside and many towns and cities.
In Shanghai thousands of Westerners protected by diplomatic security of the International Settlement continued to live as they had lived since the British came in the 19th century … Now their time was running out. Outside Shanghai, the Japanese dug in and waited … for Pearl Harbour.

Pearl Harbour? When was that?’ asked Greg.

‘7th December, 1941,’ said Jason.

Greg clipped Jason’s shoulder. ‘Now ain’t you the history buff?’

Sandy laughed. ‘So when do we get some action?’

Jason pressed the ‘fast forward’ explaining as he did so. ‘You see, this nine year old kid, Jamie Graham (the one you laughed for singing that Welsh Lullaby, Suo Gan) belongs to posh parents living in the British enclave in Shanghai who think nothing is going to happen to them. So even when the signs of war are all around them, what do they do? They ride off in their luxury Chinese chauffeur-driven car to a Fancy Dress Party.’

He pushed ‘play’ in time to see young Jamie all dressed up as Sinbad climbing into the car .

The boys sat mesmerised as they watch the Graham family drive through the crowded markets ... Japanese soldiers everywhere trying to stop terrified peasants from the countryside seeking sanctuary in the protectorate of Shanghai ... The family reach the party venue and Sinbad-Jamie takes out his model Japanese glider and sends it flying across the field and runs off after it. He stops by a wrecked plane, climbs into it and engages in a make-believe battle.

Greg and Sandy cracked up. ‘Oh what?’

‘Well he is only nine,’ said Jason, a little defensively. ‘But look! Can you believe this? When he finishes his little war game he gets out of the plane and continues on to retrieve his glider. Over the rise, he stumbles onto a Japanese airfield. But it gets better. In the confusion the next day he is separated from his parents and spends the next four year in a … .’

‘Hey, hey! Don’t give away the story.’ Sandy interrupted

‘How come you know so much?’ asked Greg.

‘Seen it a couple of times before,’ Jason muttered.

The three settled back on settee and turned their full attention to the film. As tension mounted on the streets of Shanghai showing people running wildly in the streets, the sound levels on the TV rose to match the drama.

None of the boys heard Jason’s father enter. He strode across the room and stood in front of the console. ‘What do you think you’re watching? You think war’s an amusement now, do you?’ He turned and, with a violent tug, wrenched the cable from the wall socket.

Everything went black.

Greg opened his mouth to speak but Martin Dugan did not wait for a response. He left, banging behind him the screen door that led out onto the patio.

Jason sat staring at the empty screen. What could he say? My Dad has moods? It’s been like this since he came home? He shuffled in seat.

Sandy stood up. ‘Guess Greg and I will be off. See ya later, eh?’

‘I’m sorry guys, I - I ….’

‘Don’t worry about it,’ said Sandy. ‘Oldies get that way sometimes.’

Left alone, Jason mooched out to the kitchen. Mum was cooking for the weekend. She looked up as he entered. ‘Want to scrape the bowl?’

He gave a nervous laugh. It had been a long time since he’d done that. Usually, Lillian or Genni got in first. He looked anywhere except into his mother’s eyes. ‘Guess you heard all that … .‘ He didn’t finish.

‘I heard,’ she said, ‘And I’m sorry. I know you were just having fun with your mates.’ She lifted the roast from the oven and put it on the bench. ‘It won’t always be like this.’ She paused. ‘Did Dad go back to bed?’

‘No, he went out onto the patio.’

‘I guess I’d better go and check.’



‘I think he’s busted the socket where the TV plugs in.’

Alice Dugan sighed. ‘Never mind, I’ll get Bob to look at it in the morning. You go off to bed now and I’ll try and settle your father.’

As Jason turned to go, his mother wrapped her arms around his waist and breathed into the back on his neck. ‘You’re doing good, son. I really appreciate it. Try not to let your Dad’s tantrums get you down.’

Jason felt glad to be back at school on Monday. He’d begged Mum to let him ride his bike to school but she didn’t want him riding those main roads during peak hour traffic.

‘But Mum! If I had my bike I could ride straight over to Sandy’s place after school.’

‘But if you come home first, I’ll know you’re here and you can bike over to him then. You won’t lose that much time - and he’ll scarcely be home from his school anyway.’

It was true. Jason went to Churchlands Senior High while both Sandy and Greg attended Hale Private School. The three had been friends since primary school and still spent a lot of out-of-school hours together. Right now Jason was anxious to make sure the episode with his father on Friday evening hadn’t damaged their friendship.

A little after four, Jason rode up the drive to Sandy’s place. He leaned the bike against the back gate and strolled up the path to the door. In answer to his knock an elderly man peered at him through the screen door.

‘Is Sandy home?’ Jason asked.

‘No, sorry lad. He’s got drama practise today. He’s a lead in the school play this semester.’

Jason cursed himself under his breath. ‘Of course!’ He should have remembered.

‘Can I give him a message?’

‘Just tell him Jason … Don’t worry I’ll call …’

‘Jason,’ the man interrupted. ‘Jason Dugan. Sandy’s told me of some of your adventures. I’m Gramps. Why don’t you come in? I’d enjoy some company for a bit.’

He opened the door wide for Jason to pass. Then showed him into the kitchen. ‘What’s your poison?’ Then seeing Jason’s puzzled look, said, ‘ Do you drink tea, coffee, coke or milo?’

‘Coke thanks.’

For a while they sat in companionable silence. As Gramps got to his feet, he grabbed Jason’s empty can and threw it across the kitchen so it landed in the bin by the sink. ‘Good shot, if I do say it myself,’ he said.

Jason grinned.

‘Now,’ said Gramps, ‘let’s get to know one another.’

They had been chatting for an hour by the time Sandy arrived home. ‘What you doing here? Did you forget I had drama practice today?’

Jason nodded.

‘Well, I for one am glad he did,’ said Gramps. ‘Not often I get to tell all my old war stories. You lot,’ he said waving his arm, to include Sandy’s absent parents, ‘have heard them all time and again.’

Sandy looked from one to the other. ‘Did you tell Jason about how you and Gran used to read each other’s thoughts while you were away overseas.’

‘I did,’ said Gramps, ‘ - and a lot more besides. It’s not easy coming back to civvy life after you’ve been caught up in a war zone and it’s even less easy for those at home to understand what’s happened to you.’ He gave Jason a knowing look.

‘Well,’ said Sandy, ‘that’s great but right now, Jason, how about I ride back with you to your place and see you safely home.’

A sense of relief flooded through Jason. Sandy had not been put off by Dad’s outburst. They were still friends.

Life plodded on over the next few weeks. Uncle Bob fixed the TV connection without too much trouble. The girls were home again—Mum seemed to be able to protect Lillian from Dad’s moods and as for Genni, she seemed able to bubble her way through whatever the day brought. Dad had his appointments at Hollywood. He was seeing the social worker regularly and the surgeon had booked him in for surgery next month to remove the shrapnel from his leg.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 13:19 on 08 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Mabel, so much to like here - I am really looking forward to finding out more.

Just a couple of things made me pause - I wasn't quite convinced about the amount of detail you went into with Empire of the Sun. I think for anyone who's seen the film it's unnecessary, and for anyone who hasn't, it doesn't really tell you that much. You could set the same scene much more briefly by just jumping to them engrossed in the Shanghai section - or is there a plot reason why you need to describe the story?

The other thing was I loved some of your dialogue (especially the bits with the boys) but there were a few other bits that felt a little wooden, for example ‘Yes, yes. Go ahead. You need some balance in your life. It’s not good to spend too much time worrying about your father. He will get better. In the meantime, your friends and going to school are the things that will help you through.’ I would chop the last sentence and use contractions throughout ("he'll get better""it's my job to do the worrying" "Guess Greg and I'll be off" etc) to make it sound more naturalistic.

Otherwise - great stuff!

ShellyH at 14:26 on 08 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Mabel

I do like this, but this chapter didn't work quite so well for me. The two points Florapost has picked up on are the things I stumbled on too.

I thought there was too much detail about the film, I found myself skipping over it. I think you can cut this down a lot, unless I'm missing something and it's important to the plot.

Some good writing though, and I'm really enjoying it.


Edmundree at 21:17 on 11 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Mabel,

Nice work, I've had a read through twice now and look forward to more. I have to agree with ShellyH and FloraPost though. Some dialog seems too long for me - but some of this might be because as I read I kind of have this idea of how I think someone would talk, and my voice doesn't match yours. For example...

Jason noticed tears running down his mother’s face. ‘And what about you, Mum? What’s going to help you through?’

could just be...

Jason noticed tears running down his mother’s face. ‘And what about you, Mum?’

Like I've said though, this is just how I 'hear' Jason talk.

One bit I really like is...



‘I think he’s busted the socket where the TV plugs in.’

I couldn't help but smile, I like how you have the serious stuff followed by a short, snappy, light-hearted moment. Works really well for me.


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