Emily grits her teeth and clenches her jaw. “You can’t stop me from seeing him.”
“We’re your parents. We can do whatever is best for you. You may not see that now, but we have the experience that you don’t.”
“Your mother’s right,” Mr. Hansen says.
“She’s right, Emily,” Matt says. “She can force you not to see me, but I don’t think force is a good option for creating loving relationships. Parents choose force out of convenience or because that’s what their parents did. It’s easier to force someone than to look at your own hypocrisy.”
Dr. Hansen drops her fork on her plate with a clang. She glares at Matt. “Excuse me, young man? Do you have any idea how unbelievably rude it is to call an adult a hypocrite? Especially when it is completely erroneous.”
“I’m not trying to be rude. It’s just that children live in involuntary relationships that are kind of like slavery, in that kids have to obey their parents. They can’t simply trade them in for new parents, if they don’t like how their parents are treating them—”
Emily reaches over and squeezes his hand under the table. She turns and mouths Stop.
Matt smiles at Emily. “It’s fine. I’m just explaining that I think, when you have involuntary relationships, it is easier to act badly, because you know the other person isn’t going anywhere, no matter how badly you act.”
“Who’s teaching you this nonsense?” Dr. Hansen says.
Matt shrugs. “It’s common sense, don’t you think?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Imagine if, instead of choosing to marry Mr. Hansen, what if you were forced to marry someone else against your will, and the guy knew that you could never leave. Do you think he would try really hard to please you, to be a good husband?”
“This is a ridiculous argument.”
“This is how it is for kids. We’re slaves to our parents. Hopefully our parents are nice, benevolent plantation owners who allow us to grow up to be free independent people. But for a lot of kids, that’s not the case.”
Dr. Hansen smirks. “I’ve worked with thousands and thousands of children. I can tell you that the vast majority of their parents would do anything for them, myself included.” She looks at Emily and back to Matt. “This is where you really need experience and proper education. I don’t know how you could possibly understand the parent-child dynamic when you have never been married, had children, or even had much socialization. You should really be careful about espousing these ideas you obviously know nothing about.”
Matt nods. “It just seems to me that a lot of kids in the neighborhood enjoy sadistic, dysfunctional behavior. I can’t imagine that the parents don’t have any blame for that.”
“Kids make mistakes,” Mr. Hansen says. “You yourself admitted to a very big one tonight.”
“I am sorry for that,” Matt says.
Title: Against the Grain
Author: Phil Williams
Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age / Political
A tyrannical high school principal.
A young anarchist with nothing left to lose.
One way or another, this place is goin’ down.
Matt Moyer is an orphaned teen growing up on a primitive farm in the Pennsylvania coal region. He’s homeschooled by his eccentric and philosophical great-uncle, who’s a stickler for logic, reason, and intellectual honesty. Despite his uncle’s reverence for veracity, inconsistencies arise regarding the old man’s shady past and the teen’s parents.
Through a harrowing sequence of events, Matt is forced to attend a public school. The feral teen finds it difficult to cope with the hypocrisy, propaganda, and misinformation that adults and children so readily accept. Faced with the possibility of expulsion, arrest, and ostracism, he must make a choice. Will he choose the easy lie or the hard truth?
Adult language and content.
Phil M. Williams is an author, activist, blogger, and consultant. He lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife, Denise, where he writes and tends his permaculture farm. He is the author of Fire the Landscaper, Against the Grain, Stone Lake, and co-author of Farmer Phil’s Permaculture. His new releases can be read for free at PhilWBooks.com.