Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
TITLE: I was Thinking, Australia or New Zealand
By C Lenegar
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At seven years old Christopher was a smallish child with biggish dreams. The source of those dreams was the small record player and the read along LP’s and books he routinely received on birthdays and Christmas. “Ding …..time to turn the page”, he’d diligently follow along with his books. He was a decent reader, but understandably at seven he still stayed mesmerized by the combination of pictures, words, and sounds from the player.
His parents room, his, a small living room, kitchen and bathroom comprised his winter world, when the Ohio temperatures afforded lots of snow days during which he could stay in his room, the register blowing heat just outside his door, and dream of places on the aluminum globe he kept on his chest of drawers.
The home was once an old neighborhood grocery, long closed and converted to the residence. Christopher’s father worked for the county road department, and his mother spent part time in the town’s main street coffee shop. There wasn’t a High School Diploma between them. He lay awake at night hearing his parents talking in their room. Occasionally arguing or sometimes hearing things he shouldn’t but for the partitioned walls, they’d discuss their plans and dreams. One topic in particular seemed to repeat itself. His mother was moved to dream for Chris’ dreams and she and his father would talk about it in their Appalachian accents. They’d discuss how Chris had told her his “weesh”, that one day he could get a good job and take everyone to Australia or New Zealand, those places because they were the farthest places on earth in his mind. To them Chris was their “prayshus” boy, but his dreaming concerned his blue collar dad. There wasn’t time for it, and that was that. Work and bills, the things around which their lives revolved. And so it went.
Eighteen years later, Chris walked out of his city apartment, casting a glance at the old box record player he still kept in his entertainment center as a novelty, as he made his way out the door to travel back to Ohio.
“Hey, hello, anyone here?” Chris shouted through the front screen door of the small home of his childhood. Late June in Southeast Ohio could get muggy. But the home would likely never boast central air. His mother made due with a small window unit to cool her room as she slept nights. Chris had bought it for her just last year, right after his father’s funeral. It had been the first time since college the he’d stayed in the old house, and he wished he’d have done it sooner. He knew his dad wouldn’t have easily accepted the gift anyway.
“Hi honey, I’m in here”, his mother replied from the kitchen in the back of the house. He already knew she was in there as he’d seen her through the large picture window that was once the storefront.
He walked in and to the back, set his bag in his old room, and took a seat at the Formica kitchenette set he’d eaten his meals at for 18 years of childhood. “Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?” he asked. Emotion hit him so hard, so unexpectedly, as he tried to speak the words hitched in his throat. Not only could he not speak, he thought he could even hear the voices of his parents drifting over the partitions as they discussed his “weeshes” in their bed some 18 years ago. He knew giving felt good. He’d always been a giver. But this was so hard. He said, “Mom, I want to take you somewhere this summer, and I don’t want you to even think, just say ok let’s go”. “Where?” she turned facing him, “what are you talking about sweetie?”
He looked into the wrinkled face, the sunken eyes, though lower, her cheeks were the same ones he’d kissed as a high school boy coming and going, her shoulders, though narrower, the same ones he’d hug, first as a child crying for comfort, then as a young man trying to offer some of the same…….and he said, “wherever you want mom, but I was thinking Australia or New Zealand”.
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