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Elijah held the pocketwatch, its weight settling in his heart. There was a time when his father had worn it, a sepia-toned photograph in a cracked wooden frame, the watch tucked proudly in his pocket. Now there was just the photograph. He, at age 12, mother standing just behind him. His sister and his father still alive, smiling.

The dim light reflected off the dusty glass. A train horn sounded nearby, shaking building as it passed by.

There’d been a time when strong hands guided him in the tricks of the family trade. He had been stubborn. Architecture was his passion. He wanted to see New York. Skyscrapers soared in his mind’s eye, filling him with wonder.

Now all he saw was dust and smoke. Ash and charred bones.

“I told you, family business more stable,” his father said in broken English.

“But I don’t want to work in the family business. I want to try something different! Build skyscrapers with my name on it!”

His father scoffed. “Rich people get name on skyscraper. Not you.”

“But people will know I designed it!” He shot back. “And I’ll be hired by even richer people to design even taller skyscrapers.”

“Ludicrous business.” His father shook his head and crossed his arms. “You will work for family. End of discussion.” His fist slammed down on the table with ‘discussion.’

Elijah glared at his father. “You never listen to me. You’re an old man too set in his ways.”

He was glad those hadn’t been his last words. No, his last words to his father were “I’m sorry,” oddly enough. While he hadn’t given up on the idea of becoming an architect, he’d settled for a compromise. Work a few years in the family business, save enough money, and then buy himself a one-way ticket to America.

Time changed his plans overnight. Elijah placed the watch back in the box with a sigh and switched off the light.”I’m sorry, papa,” he whispered into the darkness.”I tried.”

Based on the prompt: What memories does your character/s have about the people who raised them? How did this relationship, or lack thereof, shape their personality and beliefs?


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