In-A-Tension Tim Kempf Micro-Fiction

pages In-A-Tension

by Tim Kempf

Published in Issue No. 169 ~ June, 2011

I wake up at six o’clock every morning to get Owen up for school. I knock on his door, softly, and turn on the bathroom light. He pops up, goes to the bathroom, puts on his jeans and a t-shirt, grabs his backpack and heads down to the kitchen. I meet him downstairs and start the coffee.

“Owen, why are you eating doughnuts? Can’t you find something healthy?”

He makes his own lunch-salami slices, cheese, a bag of chips, and a brownie.

“Owen, what about fruit?”

He purses his lips and slowly exhales through his nose. He stares at the floor until his face turns white again. He throws an apple into his lunch sack and then turns on the TV. It’s 6:20.

I sit down to read and drink a cup of coffee while Owen watches cartoons. After each paragraph I check my watch and take a sip from my cup. After two cups I say, “Owen, it’s seven o’clock, it’s time to go.”

“It’s 6:58,” he says. “The bus doesn’t come until 7:09.”

I purse my lips and slowly exhale. I get another cup of coffee.

Owen turns off the TV and runs upstairs. I hear water running. I look at the ceiling. I look at my watch. I take a few more sips from my cup. When he comes back down, he has his shoes on and his hair is perfectly combed. It’s flared out in front and there’s gel in it. I roll my eyes.

“Do you have everything for school?-Your homework? Your lunch? Your sweatshirt?”


“Okay, then. Have a good day.”

He puts on his backpack and walks out the door. I wait by the window. I think, He’ll be back. He’s late. He’ll miss the bus. I check my watch. I sip my coffee. He’s never come back.

I walk to the kitchen and clean out my cup, then wipe the table and counter where Owen left crumbs.

I go back to the couch and pick up my book. I can’t remember what I’ve read so I go back to the beginning. I reread the first paragraph and then look at my watch. He should be at school by now, and then back home by …

I get up and put on another pot of coffee.

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Tim Kempf is a professor of Biomechanics and Kinesiology and an avid outdoorsman. He also enjoys writing fiction and lives with his wife and two children in Eagle, Idaho.