Victoria Radnothy is a senior writing student at SCAD Atlanta and on staff as the copy editor and the resident theatre critique for the Connector Magazine. In writing, she loves to pull from her life’s experiences and add a fun twist of fiction to them.
Armitage Family (2022 October Writing Contest Winner)
When we met her the summer of 2019, we knew she was the perfect candidate for our middle son.
She was decently pretty– not too pretty because she can’t outshine our own daughter– but certainly not bad looking. Our son needed an attractive young lady. She was best described as one of those with a good personality. Meaning, she’s wife material.
We invited her over. It was nothing crazy and over the top, but approachable. “Come over and enjoy our fancy wood fired pizza oven, we’ll even make gluten free dough.” And, “Won’t you like to meet our son? Yes, he’s just a year older than you. We think you two will have so much in common.”
We watched evenings unfold under our shiny new home roof. Pizza nights led to movie nights, that turned into days swimming and paddle boarding on the lake. When our son would return home, misty eyed over this pretty girl with a bubbling laugh, we encouraged him to scoop her up real quick.
But, she wasn’t perfect. Her decision, made before she met us, to attend college in Texas complicated matters. Long distance would not be easy for these two young lovebirds, but we did everything to make it work.
We funded their trips from Florida to Texas and back again. We’d send cards, care packages, pictures, and memories. We made their relationship thrive on social media. We reposted and posted every picture they had together. All our new friends could see this blonde gem we found for our son. Of course we took all the credit. We found her for him, this woman we could easily mold and shape to fit into our family’s standards and expectations.
Truthfully, she was the ideal addition to the family when she was 16 hours away. When she returned back to our shared hometown the following summer, we noticed some issues with her. She’d lost weight since we first met her. She now challenged the beauty of our daughter, our true favorite. She was now in direct competition with our beautiful baby girl. If there’s one thing about our family, it’s that we never lose.
But it’s okay. We forced our daughter to play nice, to behave herself. “This is the future sister in law here, don’t mess it up for us. This is your brother’s only chance at a wife.”
We sensed something shift that summer. She preferred to stay at her parents’ house over ours. Our old tricks of pizza and projector movie nights weren’t working. We had to go bigger.
We invited the whole neighborhood over, and all the young people we could find too. We threw big bonfires with elaborate s’mores stations and a keg. She left early when she got eaten up by mosquitos. So, we bought a high tech mosquito repellant that zapped every mosquito within a fifty-foot radius and invited everyone over again. But, that didn’t work. We did keg stands and got everyone playing beer pong. We’re the cool parents, we’re the most fun future in-laws she’ll ever have.
The truth finally came out. She was moving to Atlanta to finish her education.
No, no no no. She was not allowed.
She can’t move to a big city. She needed to stay here, in our little hometown and have dinner on the table when our son returned home from work. She needed to smile and wear a floral apron, taking care of the pug she doesn’t want and bouncing a baby on her hip.
This was our worst nightmare. It’d be the classic story where she’d move to the city alone and realize all the options she has out there. She’d get a job or fall in love with city life. Or, even worse, she could fall out of love with our sweet boy. So, we banded together as a family to convince her to stay.
Our daughter finally started complimenting her, and going along on double dates to exotic locations and shopping trips. Our oldest son and his wife had them over for dinner, showing off just how wonderful this tight-knit family living is. Then, we’d stop over with ice cream to further glorify this little town she was outgrowing. We looked for houses a few blocks over from us in the hopes they would move in together. We offered to pay the down payment.
We helped him get a raise at his job. We had her come along on every vacation, and gave them their own room. We paid for everything. Not even a bottle of water was allowed to be charged to her credit card.
But she dumped him. With no warning, without telling us first. She was breaking up with him—with us. We were devastated. We had everything planned out. No. She’s so stupid. We offered her everything. She just had to be a stay at home wife to our breadwinner son. That’s what every other woman is supposed to want.
We tried so hard to win her back. We walked by her parent’s house daily, attempting to casually run into her or her family and get some more information. We posted pictures of him on Instagram, hoping to remind her of his handsomeness. We called her brother, mother, and father, asking what went wrong. “What can we do as future in-laws to keep this thing from breaking?”
We encouraged our son to text her, call her, leave messages, even write her a four-page letter to prove his undying love. We told him to keep pushing, even when she told him no. We’re competitive, we can win her back. “Move to Atlanta with her,” we said, “Get an apartment together.” All in the name of young love. Give her a year to get this dream out of her system and bring her back home to reality.
But, she told him no. She decided to go, and she didn’t want him to follow. Now, we know nothing. She cut all of us out of the relationship. We’re only allowed to see the vague highlight reel on social media with no concrete location other than Atlanta.
Atlanta is so big. We could never find her.