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Lay it Down - COT Songfic

Father Daughter Nichole Nordeman

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#1 Offline Steelsheen

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Posted Aug 19 2012 - 04:12 PM

Song: Lay it DownLyrics by Nichole Nordeman

To every son and daughterWayward and long goneThe love of a FatherWill leave the light on

Josh buried his face in his hands as April shut the front door behind her. How did it get so out of hand? he pleaded. Was it something I said? Did? Didn't say; didn't do? Could I have stopped her? He felt his eyes watering and struggled against the unmanly urge to grab the tissues. His ex-wife's words echoed in his mind, rattling every corner of the world that had seemed so secure just this morning. This is your fault. There was no heated anger of an argument in her voice; it was a collected, premeditated speech. She had been waiting a long time to say those words to his face. She had even waited until their daughter was visiting the neighbors. "This is your fault," April had said calmly. Too calmly for the shocking sentence that followed. "Lacey's only 16, but she's uncontrollable. She hangs out with that boy the police looked into for drugs, and she somehow gets cigarettes into the house. She stays out late, doesn't call and comes home smashed. She's practically dropped out of high school this year. But you don't seem to notice or even care. Our daughter is going to pieces, and you can't be bothered to even look up from your stupid work schedule." He had tried to protest, to say something. But what could he say? Whenever Lacey stayed with him, she seemed so happy and innocent! They still played board games together and spent dad-daughter dates at the mall. She was his pal, his go-to friend, even if her raging hormones and sense of humor were sometimes beyond his realm of comprehension. Those precious weekends were the highlight of his life, ever since April had taken Lacey and moved an hour away. "I've done everything for her," April had continued, her neatly painted nails tapping the dining table. "Everything I could. But whatever you're doing to her here, it's changed her. I hope you're happy, Josh - you've ruined my life and now hers." He remembered the exact way she tossed her head, looking just as self-righteous as she sounded. Josh shook his head. April was a pain he had managed to forget, but to watch her sitting across the table, calmly blaming him for everything their daughter was doing, had opened an old wound. It was never good enough for her. No matter what I did, she'd think of a way to do it better. He shook his head. Stop it! Lacey is what's important right now. My baby girl... I have to save her. I can still help her, figure out what to do.

I tried to throw you off trackA needle in the haystackAnd I don't know how you found meOr why you let me come back

He glanced up at the mantlepiece. Several framed pictures of himself and Lacey decorated the shelf, showing various vacations or just those snapshots he had teased her into posing for. Josh was a confirmed shutterbug and he loved nothing better for a subject than his beautiful dark-haired daughter. She looks so happy, he thought sadly, standing up and touching one of the frames. A single tear rolled down his cheek. Oh, God, he thought, meaning the word as a name for the first time in years. Whatever I've done, whatever mistakes I've made in my life, please don't let Lacey repeat them. Don't let my baby be hurt. He wiped the saltwater off his chin with his sleeve. "Don't worry, Lace," he whispered. "I promise, we'll get you through this. Whatever happens." "Get me through what?" came the light-hearted response. Josh turned around to find Lacey leaning coolly again the doorway, smiling at him. "Lace, honey." He practically ran to her before hugging her tightly. He felt like he never wanted to let go. Lacey laughed. "Lay off, dad; you're gonna smother me." The calmness of her voice reminded him cruelly of his conversation with April just a few minutes before. In many ways, she was her mother's daughter, he reminded himself. He saw so much in her of what he used to love in April. This was going to be the hardest thing he would ever do. "Sorry, kiddo." He tried to smile at her as he let her go. Lacey cocked her head to one side. "Hey, your eyes are red! Was mom giving you a hard time again?" "Yeah... Sort of." He instinctively wiped his eyes on his sleeve again. If only he could get rid of this feeling that he was too weak to handle this false laughter, this facade of happiness. "She has her pain-in-neck days." Lacey snorted. "Lately, she's been all over my case. 'Why didn't you do this? Why did you get home so late? Why'd you buy this? Why didn't you clean your room?' It's getting so stupid. She thinks she owns me." "I'm sure she's just trying to help you, honey." he said, making a move for the kitchen. They usually made some sort of super-sugary snack while she stayed over, April's passion for health food being not regarded in this house. "Why are you always like that?" Lacey sounded suddenly very serious. "Like what, baby?" The teenager shrugged. "So nice to her. She was horrible to you, and you never say anything, never lay into her." Josh scratched his head. "I used to, Lace. I used to pitch into her every chance I got. But every time I did, it scared you. One time, when you were six, you came up to me after your mom and I had a fight and you asked me if I'd ever yell at you like that." He paused, getting out the marshmallow fluff from the pantry. "I guess it scared me that my baby girl could think I'd ever yell at her like that. So I stopped. Doesn't mean I stopped thinking a bunch of flowery words at April, but I swore I'd never say them again." Lacey opened the brownie mix slowly. "Hey, dad? What if I deserved it? Like, pretend I held up a Qwik-Mart, or something; would you yell at me then?" Josh swallowed hard. "I'd try not to. I'd just be scared you were hurt and wanna protect you." "Thanks." Lacey smiled naturally, cracking eggs into the bowl with the brownie mix. "You knew that; didn't you, Lace?" he asked anxiously. "If you're in trouble... If you need someone to talk to--" She laughed. "Oh, geez, dad. It was just a 'what if'. I'm doing fine." Josh stared hard at the tall girl. Never before had he been so sure that she was lying to him. "Okay, honey. Just... If you ever need someone, I'm here for you." "Sure. When I get arrested for lifting candy bars, I'll call you." she teased, licking the chocolate-covered spatula.

Cuz it's a long way homeWhen all you're left to carryIs a heart of stoneAnd the weight of most the worldAnd I'd like to

Lacey stared at the ceiling of her room. Her dad lived in a townhouse, so space was tight, but he always kept one bedroom ready for her on the weekends. He was so sweet, even if he did worry too much. Her cell phone vibrated quietly on the nightstand. She checked the screen and frowned. She didn't feel like answering her boyfriend's text just now. Mom told him, she thought, turning over in bed. She told him about school, the parties, Alex. He knows. How could she do that to me? It's not fair! I'm sixteen - I'm old enough to make my own choices! Somewhere, in the far corner of her mind, she wanted to cry. She hadn't wanted her dad to find out. The partying and acting out, that was all stuff she did to get her mom's attention. She had never wanted her dad to know what a different person she was away from him. He had always loved her, always tried to protect her, even through the messy divorce. And while sometimes she found that protection restricting, tonight she just wanted him to tell her forgave her and it would be okay.

Lay it down a littleLay it down a lotI don't want to hold it anymoreLay it down in pieces orLay it down in wholeEverything I've carried on my ownLay it down, lay it downLay it down, lay it down

As she lay in the dark, scrunching her pillow to relieve her feelings, Lacey heard a soft knock on the door of her room. "Lace? You awake?" Josh whispered. "Yeah; c'mon in, dad." she answered, sitting up. Josh opened the door quietly and sat down on the foot of her double mattress. In the dark, his deep brown skin blended in with the night, making it hard to read his expression. "Hey, baby. I thought you might be awake, so I just..." He trailed off, unsure of what to say. How could he possibly bring up what April had told him without sounding like he was accusing Lacey? The teenager frowned. "You wanna know if what mom said is true? If I do drugs, hang with gangs and hit old ladies?" "No, no, Lace." he said quickly and firmly. "I know you'd never hurt anybody." He still trusts me? Lacey wondered in amazement. He's not upset I lied to him? Josh shook his head, trying to shape his words carefully. "I don't even believe most of what your mom said. I know you, honey; whatever little thing you've done to freak her out every now and then, it's no big deal. I just... I needed you to know that. It's not a big deal." For the first time in who-knew-how long, Lacey's conscience pained her. She had never felt guilty about doing anything to show her mom how little she cared. But her dad... Even when faced with evidence to the contrary, he believed in her, took her side. She felt her eyes watering and blinked to hide it. She had lied this long; she could lie a while longer. She couldn't shatter his blind faith in her. "Thanks, daddy. That means a lot."

I spent your moneyLiving on the fringesBut you threw a party for meInvited all your big friendsAnd I have learned a little bitAbout a heavy loadAll that gleams and glittersIs not worth its weight in goldAnd I know I should

Josh only stayed a few minutes after that; he wanted to make sure Lacey got enough sleep. But he was too worried to get any rest himself. I'll make a quick sandwich or something, he told himself. I need to give Lacey some space. If there's anything to tell, she'll say it when she's ready. I won't force her. He walked into the kitchen and began making a quiet snack, disregarding the sickening feeling in his stomach that his daughter was hiding from him. Doesn't she trust me enough to tell me? Is she scared to say whatever she's done? he wondered. Doesn't she know I'd forgive her? He half-consciously pictured all the horrible things teenagers did on the ten o'clock news. He saw his little girl being dragged down by the slippery pit of self-damage and almost stabbed his hand with the bread knife by accident. Josh was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but that moment, he came as close to it as he ever would. "Look, God or whoever's out there," he muttered, "I just wanna save Lacey. Could you help me do that? Just save my little girl. I don't want her to be hurt." There was no light or voice that answered, no choir of singing angels or even a loud gust of wind. But Josh felt something snap in his heart, some barrier that had been closed for so long he didn't know there was anything on the other side. A new feeling, a tangible, inexplicable calm, came over him. Whatever happened, he knew it would be okay. Lacey was going to be saved.

Lay it down a littleLay it down a lotI don't want to hold it anymoreLay it down in pieces orLay it down in wholeEverything I've carried on my ownLay it down, lay it downLay it down, lay it down

Lacey listened to the sound of her dad in the kitchen, probably making a midnight snack. She blinked rapidly against the stubborn tears in her eyes. Why am I feeling so guilty?! This isn't my fault; it's mom's. She should have kept her big mouth shut. She shut her eyes, trying to block out the noise, the dark, her own pricking conscience. Just go to him, that annoying corner of her mind whispered. He'll forgive you; he'll understand. She gave a sharp, quiet laugh. I'm too far gone. He can't forgive me for lying to him and pretending to be someone else. He doesn't love me; he loves the kid I used to be. You don't really believe that, the other thought answered. He loves you, Lacey. He loves you and he's waiting. Just go. She shook her head. "No." she said aloud. "I can't." Go. Lacey sighed in exasperation. She wanted nothing more than to get this feeling of heavy guilt off her chest. She wanted to feel her dad's too-tight hug again and hear him call her "honey", knowing who she really was. She slipped out from under the covers, brushed her hair into some semblance of order and opened the door.

To every son and daughterWayward and long gone...

-HH

Edited by Hahli Historian, Aug 19 2012 - 06:58 PM.

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#2 Offline Grant-Sud

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Posted Aug 24 2012 - 01:28 AM

I read this the other day, but I'm glad I was able to get a chance to look over it again. First I'm just going to say that the plot for me, isn't anything new. It's done well, but it's not something that's really that original. But, that's a good thing, I'm going to get to that in a minute. The settings and descriptions are nice, and I love the small things such as Lacey licking the spoon, and how she talks about her bedroom being small. The thing is, concerning the plot and surroundings, you didn't place a ton of detail into them. HOWEVER you gave just enough of a realistic feel for the reader to picture something in their own life to relate to. And really, that's what this story did for me. The story was so familiar, in little ways about people I may know, or people I know who know about people like Lacy and April and Josh. Not to say my family's like this one... But it was the little things that the characters said and how they thought that really touched me and felt very realistic. It's all ambiguous in plot and surroundings, which adds to that well.So, what I'm trying to say is that I really really want to praise the characters here. I think some of the dialogue is a little heavy on the drama at times, but man, the relationship between Josh and April, was just so spot on for the type of relationship they had. I really enjoyed the part where he's telling Lacey why he doesn't fight back any more, because no matter how much that must tear at him, I can see how he would calm himself for his daughter. I also really liked Lacey and felt some sympathy for her. You're not sure at the end just how badly she has gotten herself into trouble, whether the mom was overreacting or not, but it's more the point that she has in some way and whether or not she's going to confess to her dad. I liked the overall message, that a little love goes a long way even if the characters weren't sure how to express it, or have been the wrong way. Even the mom shows real concern for her daughter and though she was antagonistic, I can't consider her a bad mother, just flawed like they all are.Anyway, the story does a great job because as I said, it's just realistic in its reasoning. I liked it a lot. Great CoT story, and can I say I'm impressed this story wasn't horribly depressing and ended on hopeful ending? Awesome job!
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#3 Offline The Lord Of Wednesday

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Posted Sep 20 2012 - 08:26 PM

This is an SSCC Charity review of Lay It Down by Hahli Historian (review by Proud Stigma).In terms of spelling, grammar, and general flow I encountered no problems.Now when it comes to your story, it does something that I like with the wife. She has self-serving bias, bigtime, with her refusal to accept that she could possibly be at fault. I say that because I know what it is like to deal with someone like that, where despite everything they insist it is "your problem" or "your fault" or how circular arguments somehow "don't apply" to them. This is good because that experience allows me to empathize with the male protagonist and what he goes through with the mother.But what I like more is the character of the daughter, who notices and agrees with the fathers complaints. But most of all it is that she knows that her father does not believe all she has been accused of and she does not want to abuse this. Even though it will disappoint him and she may be punished, she feels that being honest with him is more important then preserving a good lie, and at least in the way that concept is portrayed here, it is sweet to watch it play out.Whether this was intended or not, it could be a stab at how child custody is handled in divorce cases, where the wife usually has a higher chance of winning even when she is not trying to get the child, or in this case, where the daughter is clearly more happy with the father. Intended or not, I found it interesting.The level of detail in the writing itself is quite nice, and your using of the song lyrics as a transition is certainly creative.Anyway it is a good story and I enjoyed reading it, I especially liked the sympathetic characters you placed in there. All in all it was a pleasure to read, we here at the SSCC await your next story.

Edited by Proud Stigma, Sep 20 2012 - 08:51 PM.

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#4 Offline Steelsheen

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Posted Sep 21 2012 - 01:17 PM

I read this the other day, but I'm glad I was able to get a chance to look over it again. First I'm just going to say that the plot for me, isn't anything new. It's done well, but it's not something that's really that original. But, that's a good thing, I'm going to get to that in a minute. The settings and descriptions are nice, and I love the small things such as Lacey licking the spoon, and how she talks about her bedroom being small. The thing is, concerning the plot and surroundings, you didn't place a ton of detail into them. HOWEVER you gave just enough of a realistic feel for the reader to picture something in their own life to relate to. And really, that's what this story did for me. The story was so familiar, in little ways about people I may know, or people I know who know about people like Lacy and April and Josh. Not to say my family's like this one... But it was the little things that the characters said and how they thought that really touched me and felt very realistic. It's all ambiguous in plot and surroundings, which adds to that well.So, what I'm trying to say is that I really really want to praise the characters here. I think some of the dialogue is a little heavy on the drama at times, but man, the relationship between Josh and April, was just so spot on for the type of relationship they had. I really enjoyed the part where he's telling Lacey why he doesn't fight back any more, because no matter how much that must tear at him, I can see how he would calm himself for his daughter. I also really liked Lacey and felt some sympathy for her. You're not sure at the end just how badly she has gotten herself into trouble, whether the mom was overreacting or not, but it's more the point that she has in some way and whether or not she's going to confess to her dad. I liked the overall message, that a little love goes a long way even if the characters weren't sure how to express it, or have been the wrong way. Even the mom shows real concern for her daughter and though she was antagonistic, I can't consider her a bad mother, just flawed like they all are.Anyway, the story does a great job because as I said, it's just realistic in its reasoning. I liked it a lot. Great CoT story, and can I say I'm impressed this story wasn't horribly depressing and ended on hopeful ending? Awesome job!

Thanks! Characters being the backbone of this particular SS, I'm very pleased you connected with them. No one was exactly supposed to be "the bad guy" (or girl); it was about familial love or a lack of it. And yes, I didn't want to end it in a sad way, so I'm glad it has a little hope right at the end. It's really more of a vignette than a story, so moods and characters were what I tried to focus on over descriptions and backstory.

This is an SSCC Charity review of Lay It Down by Hahli Historian (review by Proud Stigma).In terms of spelling, grammar, and general flow I encountered no problems.

Yay!

Now when it comes to your story, it does something that I like with the wife. She has self-serving bias, bigtime, with her refusal to accept that she could possibly be at fault. I say that because I know what it is like to deal with someone like that, where despite everything they insist it is "your problem" or "your fault" or how circular arguments somehow "don't apply" to them. This is good because that experience allows me to empathize with the male protagonist and what he goes through with the mother.But what I like more is the character of the daughter, who notices and agrees with the fathers complaints. But most of all it is that she knows that her father does not believe all she has been accused of and she does not want to abuse this. Even though it will disappoint him and she may be punished, she feels that being honest with him is more important then preserving a good lie, and at least in the way that concept is portrayed here, it is sweet to watch it play out.Whether this was intended or not, it could be a stab at how child custody is handled in divorce cases, where the wife usually has a higher chance of winning even when she is not trying to get the child, or in this case, where the daughter is clearly more happy with the father. Intended or not, I found it interesting.

I think it is a subconscious stab, because while I didn't write it with that message in mind (again, think vignette, not story) I can see how it does sort of have that tone. I have several family members who are divorced, have children, etc., and it breaks my heart to see the kids end up with the parent who can't or won't do the best job of raising them.

The level of detail in the writing itself is quite nice, and your using of the song lyrics as a transition is certainly creative.Anyway it is a good story and I enjoyed reading it, I especially liked the sympathetic characters you placed in there. All in all it was a pleasure to read, we here at the SSCC await your next story.

Thank you for the reviews, guys; I appreciate it. :)-HH

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