The Magic of Looking the Other Way

Our man our hero Chuck Wendig has proposed writing on “The Danger of Undeserved Power.” Which of course is what this site and “Diamonds and Dirt” are all about.

While we’re busy thrashing about and challenging the obvious, an insidious poison still creeps through our land. While we puff our chests and claim vigilance, the evil of undeserved power struts by unchallenged.


Safe in the pool? Maybe not.

The Parents.

To her, they weren’t My Parents. They were The Parents. Aloof, dismissive, self-absorbed, the dividing line was a fine one but oh so clear. They didn’t give two shits about her. She knew it. She’d given up wishing long ago. She tried her damnedest not to care either.

Saying My Parents would give them power. Power they didn’t even want. And it would hurt when they ignored her.

The Parents couldn’t hurt her.

They gave plenty of shits about Trump. They wore pussyhats, chanted, marched, carried signs. They screamed on Twitter. Unfriended and blocked on Facebook. Insulted in the comment section. Trump has too much power. Undeserved power. Trump will kill us one day.

On Sundays they gathered to pray about it. Pastor John stirred the pot and passed the plate.

They pumped their fists at dinner. He doesn’t deserve that power. But didja see that post this afternoon? That’s speaking truth to power, by God. And did you hear Oprah. She’s running. Next election, for sure. I’ll retweet it before bed.

Her hair was damp from the pool.

How was practice, dear. Take a better shower next time, chlorine stinks. It’s a stupid sport when you think about it, up and down with that black line on the bottom, why do you do it?

I’m getting faster. My friends…

Can you believe Trump is trying to fire Mueller. He’s a snake. He’s unstable. He’s taking us to war, I still can’t believe he got elected, it’s all unconstitutional, he’s abusing his power.

And my coach, he’s really…

That’s nice, dear. Don’t interrupt.


Coach, can you help me with my starts?

I can’t do that during practice. If you’re committed, you’ll need to stay after. I’ll take you home.

I’ll text The Parents. That saves them a trip. They hate swimming anyway.

Do you like swimming?

Of course I do. I’m asking for help.

Well then let’s do this together.


You have to do exactly as I say.

Nobody’s ever said that to me. Like, The Parents just let me do whatever.

You’ll get used to it. Now stand up there. Bend over. Grab the block. No, more of a crouch. Now, one foot back. Thighs apart. Like this, feel that? Just like this. What’s wrong?

Sorry Coach. Nobody’s ever…

What? Don’t you like it?

I didn’t say that. I mean, yeah. But I’m only thirteen, and you’re…

Relax. We have the pool to ourselves. Don’t you wanna swim faster?


Coach and I worked late on starts today. I took two seconds off my 50.

That’s nice, dear. We have a meeting at the church. Help me with these signs. Check this one out. Take a Dump on Trump. It rhymes. I thought of that one myself. Rhymes are this week’s theme for the noon protest at the post office tomorrow. Pastor John will love it. Anything to fight that man’s undeserved power.

I haven’t finished eating.

Finish later. Help me with these.

Ivanka’s Bonkas? Mom, my teacher says Ivanka doesn’t even agree with most of…

You might need to change schools. I’ll email her on the way. We gotta go.


Why’d you call me? It’s almost 10. I get paid to coach daytimes.

The Parents are out late. I’m lonely. Do I have to pay extra?



Did you do your homework?

Not everything.

You want to keep swimming? I’m your coach. Do your homework.

I called because you’re my friend.

I’ll be your friend. Do your homework.



The Parents didn’t have anything she wanted. The Parents didn’t care about her homework.

He did. He did.


Oh, roses. Who-?

They’re for me.

That’s nice, dear.

Coach sent them.

Let’s see that card. You got an A in math? You never…

You never asked.

Well that’s nice, dear. You should tell Pastor John about it. He’ll be proud. You know how much he cares. You’ll have to email him, he’s going to Washington for the Womxn’s March. Your dad and I are joining him. Jason and Kendra next door should be around if you need anything.

Like food?

Don’t bother them for food, dear. You know where the frozen taquitos are.

Yeah. Coach will take me to practice.

That’s nice, dear. I’ll text him a thank-you. But I still don’t get what you see in that sport. We gotta go. See you Monday.

Makes a daughter proud.


Hey. Thanks for the flowers.

Hey yourself. You earned those. Good job.

You make me feel good.

Like I said. Do what I say, and…

…and I’ll feel good.

You did. And now you do.

The Parents are gone until Monday.

Is that right.

Can I have a ride to practice tomorrow?

Did you do your homework?

Yes I did. All of it, finished.

Then OK. See you in the morning.

And, uh, I’m lonely.


Can I, umm…

Can you what? I’m busy.

Can I come over, after practice, I mean it’s so cold and quiet and I’m all alone tonight and they’re gone for two more nights and I don’t need them but I never knew it would be like this and I just need…

Hush. I’ll come over now.

Tonight? I thought you were busy.

Pack a toothbrush.


Oh, you’re home.

Of course. It’s Monday afternoon. We’re back.

Well, um, I…

Why aren’t you at practice?

The, um, I mean, My, My Coach, he told me to take… a few days… off.

That’s nice, dear. Did you catch a cold? You’re sniffling. You would have loved the march. All those pink hats, those signs, the singing, everyone happy and empowered and we all hate Trump, it was so…

Um, Mom?

Yes, dear?

I, well… I think… #MeToo. I’m not sure, but I think so.

That’s nice, dear. You can hold that sign next time. Tweet about it. But remember what I said about interrupting.

6 Replies to “The Magic of Looking the Other Way”

  1. So hard, yet so familiar. What is it about the familiar that automatically lulls the senses? I already knew the ending even from the start. And you read on with a sense of impending doom. And by the end, it’s almost relief that it’s over. Even if it’s horrible. Thank you for writing this. We all need to travel through the impending doom and stop avoiding it. Stop ignoring it. Stop turning and walking the other way. Because only by seeing it, and acknowledging it, and letting it hurt US, can we step up and say “This is enough!”

    1. Thanks for the comment, Vanessa. So true. While there’s only one perp in the story, the ones with the duty to protect — can’t you hear God saying “jeez, I gave you just one job, and you boned it up” — are so often neglectful of the most obvious warning signs.

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