Paul Banks’ scoffing laugh rippled through his son like an ocean wave powering through a sand castle. “This isn’t some pop quiz” — apparently he’d forgotten the analogy had been his creation — “not something you decide to do, or not do.” The accountant shook his head, his shoulder’s drooping suddenly; looking tired, he lowered himself onto his recliner, then fixed his gaze back at Rune.
Suddenly the father’s face brightened with inspiration. “It’s like, you’re always being evaluated. Somebody’s always watching you. And at some point, probably when you don’t expect it, they come up to you, and say, here’s how you did. And they give you this little score card, with all the marks filled in — what you did right, what you did wrong. And if you do like you’re saying, just sitting back and trying to figure things out . . . ”
Paul Banks exhaled, letting his lips vibrate, fbbbbbbt, spittle spraying onto his chin. Rune guessed his father had realized the futility of his absurd analogy, had abandoned it. He wanted to tell his father to relax, enjoy watching his game, not to worry. He wanted to say he’d be all right. He wanted to say — something. But found that he couldn’t.
“You do want to be successful, don’t you?” His father’s face looked like a wounded deer’s.
“Of course.” The only safe answer. “But I don’t know what being successful means, just yet.” Oh stupid, stupid, stupid.