“Look,” Dad says. “I got the gator.”
I am six. I look out into the lake and see the alligator gliding its way toward the dock. Dad keeps reeling in his line. “We’ll cut off its tail and paint it. You can take to school as a dog.”
“Dad, stop.” I tug on his arm. “Daddy.”
The gator keeps coming in and dad laughs. “No one will bother you if you bring a gator to school.”
What I don’t know is that dad has caught a catfish and the gator is following the fish as dad reels it in. I think he is really going to pull that gator on the dock. “Stop it!” I jump up and down. “I don’t want to take a gator to school!”
“But you’ll be the only kid with a gator.”
I take one more where the fishing line disappears into the water, turn around, and run. I’m still wearing my Catholic school uniform and the sun is setting. The lake is orange, red, and pink in the distance but brown around the dock.
My foot catches between two slats. I fall into the lake. The water is warm and the sand slick. But I am up. The water level isn’t high and I scrap my arms and legs on the dock’s edge.
For years my dad thinks it’s a good idea to take a gator to school as a dog.
In fiction, I like to have characters in a scene believe different things are going on. That isn’t to say I pull that off, mind you, but it’s a goal. Sometimes it’s hard to know how much the reader should know. The reader may be pulled more into the story by believing what a particular character believes. Or perhaps the reader will keep turning pages for the conflict they see between two points-of-view. Which do you prefer? How can you do decide?