Writing A Place To Go meant more drafts than I ever anticipated, but when I finally landed on the idea of writing it from Abbot's point-of-view, I knew I'd made the right choice. However, that meant that in the mess of notes, half-finished scenes, and scribbles on napkins that was the beginning of this novella, a gem got left behind.
Below is an excerpt from the first incarnation of this story, in which Ned is preparing to move back to his parents and struggling with what to get Abbot for Christmas. Who better to ask for advice than dear old dad?
There are still shirts hanging in Ned's closet at his parent's house that he wore in high school. Pants too and when he shakes them out and holds them up to his waist, they're comically short and dated.
"Styling," Dad says from the doorway.
Ned tosses them in the pile to take to Goodwill. "What are you getting Mom for Christmas?"
"A new cutting board, so don't even think about it, buddy, cause I've got dibs." His dad sips at his coffee. "How was the job interview?"
"Fine. Good, yeah." Ned blinks at his closet. Thank God that wasn't one of the questions lobbed at him - what're you getting for your wonderful, thoughtful, handsome boyfriend who doesn't need anything?
"Also, ongoing participation in her bookclub with no accompanying whining. Why? I'm sure you moving home for a spell is all that your mom wants."
"No, I got her a cook book." Healthy Baked Goods, or something like that, with all the recipes replaced with applesauce and kale powder. Maybe he can make Abbot something from it. He grimaces at the handful of ties he pulls off a hangar and sort of wants to gag. "What'd you get her when you were first, you know, dating?"
"Ah," Dad says. "Potholders."
"I did. And she married me, so that's a pro tip right there, kid." Dad settles himself onto the foot of Ned's bed. "Are you trying to figure out what to get your new squeeze?"
"I've had some ideas," Ned mumbles.
"Um." He tugs another shirt from the closet. "I don't know."
"Trivets have always proven to be a big hit."
"I'm not getting him trivets."
"Something for his office?"
"He's like the very definition of minimal clutter, and he besides, he doesn't need anything."
"It's not about what he needs, but what he wants," Dad says. Ned tosses an old pair of worn out dress shoes onto the pile and Dad nods slowly, rubbing at his chin. "Like - oh! A really good umbrella."
Ned closes his eyes. Opens them and turns back to his closet. "I'm so glad that you and Mom are such a great example of a happy marriage for me to follow."
"No, wait, coasters. Very practical and always useful."
"Yeah, I'll keep thinking," Ned says. Coasters. Nothing more fitting to convey my entire life is better for having fallen in love with you than a set of coasters. "Thanks, Dad."