Thursday, December 2, 2021

WEP Challenge and Little Tommy


“You have the cutest baby ever. He should be in those commercials. They could sell anything using that face.”


Cindy and Tom smiled at each other. It seemed they weren’t just proud parents with a huge slice of bias. Their baby boy truly was adorable. Everyone said so.


Those big blue eyes. Jet black curls. Beautiful.


***

“Candy. I want candy.”


Little Tommy’s pout warned of stormy tears as Cindy stood in the checkout line. Her beautiful boy stared up at her from the grocery cart, those blue eyes shining. Cheeks rosy.


“You have such a handsome son. You’re a lucky mom.”


Tommy smiled at the cashier, and the woman smiled back.


As he charmed the lady, Cindy reached out and added a candy bar to her order.


***

“I want the blue one.”


Tom looked at the red shirt he’d picked up for his son and then to the blue on the rack. “I thought you’d like the dinosaurs on this one. You’d rather have the blue?”


Tommy nodded seriously. “Yes. It matches my eyes.”


Tom laughed, ruffled his son’s curls, and changed out red for blue.


***

Tommy held the truck behind his back. “It’s mine.”


“I had it first!”


Tommy shook his head. “I have it. It’s mine.”


“Now, boys. No fighting. Tommy will have the first turn, you can have it next, Kev.”


***

“Tommy has been struggling to keep his attention on his studies this term.”


Cindy and Tom exchanged a look. “How can we help?”


The teacher smiled. “Well, if you could keep the girls away from him, that would probably help.”


Everyone chuckled. “The girls are always calling the house as well. One even dropped off cookies for him on the weekend.”


“He’s a good-looking kid. There’s probably more of that in his future.”


***

Tommy checked his hair in the mirror he’d installed in his room. The bathroom had better lighting, but his parents were always complaining he spent too long getting ready for things.


They didn’t get it. It was important to always look his best.


***

Tommy gave his best smile to his grandparents. They liked to see him smile.


He even let them pinch his cheeks.


They always slipped him money when they visited.


***

“I prefer to be called Thomas.”


“But, Tommy, you’ve always…”


“I will no longer answer to that name.”


“Okay, Thomas.”


***

“My eyes are halfway through a blink. I need you to retake the photo.”


The clerk frowned at the picture and pointed to the sign that stated unless eyes were fully closed, the picture couldn’t be retaken.


Thomas smiled the way he’d perfected in the mirror. The smile that gave him the maximum results.


The clerk smiled back and the second picture was perfect.


***

Thomas checked his appearance one last time before heading out to pick up the girl. He’d told her to leave her hair down. When she wore it that way, she was the prettiest girl in the school.


He’d told her to choose a blue dress so they would match. His shirt and tie were the perfect shades. They would make a striking couple.


Their pictures would be the best.


***

Thomas selected his courses carefully. All it had taken was a bit of research to find the perfect professors.


It was an easy thing to cruise the internet, find their bios, and check out their pictures.


Adults were easy to figure out. He knew which ones he could work with and which ones would be more difficult. His degree would be a piece of the proverbial cake.


***

Thomas looked out the windows of his penthouse.


Christmas lights were lit across the city. Cindy and Tom had wanted him to cross the state to visit with them. Spend a day traveling to put up with annoying small talk and overcooked turkey.


He’d rather be exactly where he was. He had a dozen invitations but had yet decided which would be most beneficial and least annoying. He might stay in and enjoy his own company. It was far better than idiotic small talk.


Thomas lifted his wine glass and toasted his reflection in the window.





Tagline: Bringing up Tommy, the tale of a narcissist. 


*****

The above is part of the WEP Challenge for December. I really struggled with a story for this prompt! It's always interesting to see which prompts bring stories quickly to mind and which have me really reaching for an idea!


I hope you join in the Challenge for the month! Because it's a busy season for many around the world, we've extended the posting dates from December 1st to the 15th. That will give everyone time to write, post, and enjoy the other stories.


I'm looking forward to seeing how others interpreted the prompt!


We've decided on the prompts for next year and I think you're going to love them!





48 comments:

  1. Oh Thomas. Your destiny was assured when people showed you from an early age that beauty is everything. Poor Thomas.

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    1. Agreed - the outside isn't the important bit, but not everyone sees that

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  2. 😎 I like how you showed the progression, how people are groomed into this by a society that values and approves of it right up until we don't. Two sides of the coin and whatnot.

    Next year looks cool. I don't know all those songs, so guess I'll be hitting up YouTube!

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    1. Thanks, Jamie - our society's values can be a little messed up sometimes.
      I don't know them all either - but it'll be fun!

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  3. At any given point in his youth, the outcome could have been different. Well written and perfect for this challenge.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. It's too bad they didn't make better choices!

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  4. Loved it. You showed how his environment helped shape him. Makes you wonder, over confidence or no confidence, which is the most dangerous. Well done!

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    1. Thanks! The results of the two are often so similar.

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  5. Love this! I like how you show his character development based on how he "charms" people with his beauty. One of the interesting things about this story is that I grew up with a couple of boys who were treated like that - one actually became a wonderful man, but he had some decent people in his life who told him "no" now and then, and one almost died in a DUI car accident (he had demanded his keys and drove while drunk and thankfully no one else was injured). It's a dangerous thing to raise a kid to think they are more valuable than others around them.

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    1. Wow - those are potent stories!!
      I've taught a few kids who've grown up as the 'so cute, can do no wrong' kid. It rarely ends well.
      I'm glad the first boy you knew grew up as he did!

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  6. Great use of the prompt, Jemi. Shows how a narcissus can be groomed through the years to grow into sometimes an odious adult. We are a society far too focused on beauty, at least on the outside. (Reminds me of the Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde).

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    1. Thanks! There's such a focus on things that don't really matter sometimes.

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  7. You nailed this, Jemi. I enjoyed the progress through the years as well, but I REALLY did want to give him a smack...but, if he got that, he never would have grown up so vain.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. His vanity is definitely a problem!

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  8. I love the progression from pretty baby to self-centred young man! His parents' indulgence certainly got that ball rolling. And the bit about the perfect photos...that really struck close to home (childhood memories). Fabulous entry, Jemi! 👏👏👏

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    1. After reading your entry, I get the connection. That drive for superficial perfection controls far too many people. Sad.

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  9. How sad, Jemi. And how different his life might have been with the right guidance--encouragement with a heavy does of "beauty is as beauty does" thrown in. Good job!

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    1. Thanks, Lee.
      He could have a charmer with a few changes along the way!

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  10. It's so strange. The very foundation of narcissism is laid down by the very society that loathes it. Actually we always have two sides of the same coin. And what we become is often about how we are treated. I liked how you traced the progress Jemi and from what I see, you left a lot for us to imagine about where Thomas will go from here.
    -Sonia

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    1. Thanks, Sonia! It's so true that our society creates these problems and then abhors them We need to fix things!!

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  11. At some point, we all are guilty of favoring the good looking child/adult, until we realize many years later that it's what lies within that truly matters.
    Loved the progression of Tommy's story...oops, Thomas's story, I mean. :)

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    1. Thanks Shilpa!
      Watching a person get overindulged because they're cute always rings those warning bells!!

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  12. Hi Jemi - excellent take on the prompt - cleverly written through his life - sadly he won't do well - seems he's reached his peak. Loved the read - cheers Hilary

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    1. I agree - he'll never do well, and never be satisfied. *sigh* poor kid!

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  13. Many beautiful people are in love with their appearance. As a result, so many of them are eventually unhappy, their lives empty. You captured a narcissist perfectly.

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    1. Thanks, Olga. I always feel sorry for them too. So many wonderful things they miss

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  14. Narcisists are horrible things! They manipulate to get what they want and get a rise out of one's pain--it's a personality disorder.

    It hurts to see an innocent child turn so vile as an adult. Such loss of innocence! *sigh*

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    1. It really does hurt when you see it - and see people helping it along

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  15. (my dad is a narcisist but he is not beautiful--he's just full of entitlement and abuse)--I believe narcisism has different facets--it's not all of one thing or the other.

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    1. I totally agree - sadly I've seen it in various shades over my teaching years.
      I'm sorry about your dad - that's incredibly difficult

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  16. The creation of a monster. I wonder if his parents have figured it out yet.

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    1. Probably not - sadly, they often don't understand the connection!

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  17. Wonderful take on the prompt! Children should never be spoiled to such an extent. I've known a few too many people who remind me of Thomas.

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    1. Me too, Laura! Over the years, I've taught more than a few :)

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  18. I enjoyed the progression. If you care only about your child's beauty you'll teach them to do the same.

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    1. Exactly, and it's a difficult lesson to unlearn!

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  19. And so a narcissist is made! Children need to be appreciated for what they do, not how they look. Beautifully done Jemi!

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  20. A charming tale about a charming little boy with those jet black curls...rosy cheeks...perfect smile...
    ...and the chilling undertone lingers, very subtle at first, but then growing stronger as the story unfolds and by the end there is a sense of foreboding...it's just a matter of time... *chills*
    I'd love to read the rest of this tale.
    Great job, Jemi!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! Sadly, there's sometimes a fine line between a charmer and a narcissist.

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  21. Great take on the prompt and consummately executed! We as a society focus on the superficial and forget to value what matters - not how cute a child looks but how he behaves. Tommy has a hard time coming to him, probably sooner rather than later. Well done!

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    1. Thanks, Nila. I'm afraid Tommy will definitely have a challenge ahead of him.

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  22. Throughout the story I kept expecting that he'd end up learning a hard lesson. I loved that you didn't use the normal cliche.

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    1. Thanks, Bernadette - it's always fun to be outside the box :)

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  23. At least he found who he loves best. Sadly, he turned out to be an odious person as narcissists tend to do.
    Happy holidays if you celebrate them.

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    1. Definitely odious!!
      Happy holidays to you as well!!

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