Dawson met Donald on the plane. They shared a joke about kids demanding gifts on their return. They lost track of each other after baggage reclaim – a grandiose name for the pile of bags on a worn-out trolley in the entrance hall.
A week later, digging yet another home out of the rubble, Dawson heard his name yelled from the river. Donald was in full vacation mode, paddling through the gentle swell. The earthquake had made hotels desperate for guests, Donald said. Watersports were free. Dawson should get out of the mud and join him on a jetski tomorrow.
When I got home, Mum wanted to know all about the host family where I stayed. They taught me so much – they always followed up with the English if they said something I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t tell her my favourite lesson though.
On the way to a super fancy restaurant for dinner, we were running late when a huge wagonload of straw pulled onto the road in front of us.
“Merde!” shouted the Dad.
The Mum looked at him and whispered “Les enfants!”
So he turns to me. I thought he was going to apologise, but he translates instead.
Being married to a Rear Admiral, it’s no surprise that Lady Margaret favours the nautical metaphor. Moving to a bigger house, she gathered us together to announce that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” without giving a moment’s thought to the boats who’d be getting up 30 minutes earlier to light five extra fires and shine twice as many brass knockers.
Recently, she’s been heard to say that “we’re all in the same boat”. I suppose, in a sense, we are. Same boat, same storm. But only some of us are in steerage, avoiding rats and bailing out the bilge.
Not my favourite phrase of the era, as you can probably tell. I do enjoy a bit of Zac Brown Band though:
Hetty liked Professor Billmore in spite of his quirkiness. He biked around the grounds with his cape billowing and any student foolish enough to get in his way was treated to a peremptory bark and a flight into a nearby bush, but if you gave him space, he always acknowledged with a wave.
It wasn’t until Hetty’s train home was late one day that she learned more about Professor Billmore’s eccentricities. She was on Platform 9, willing the engine to appear, when she heard the familiar shout. She turned to see half the bicycle disappearing into the wall behind her.
Riding through the countryside was Owen’s freedom. Nobody asked him anything and if they had, their voices would’ve been drowned out by the roar of the engine.
If Alan was out for a morning ride, he wanted to hear the larks; the gentle burn in his thighs wasn’t just a price worth paying, it was part of the experience.
Pulling up outside a café atop the hill, the two men stared, uncomprehending. Then Owen peeled down his leathers, revealing his shirt.
“Don’t see many United fans round here. D’you see the game Saturday?” Alan smiled at his new best friend.
I have a shirt for the Red Bull Formula 1 team. It wasn’t cheap but it’s comfy and I love it. More than that, I find it evokes a fascinating response. Formula 1 fans are not as widespread as soccer or hockey fans, but there are more of them around than I realised, and my shirt almost always results in me finding one! Instant friend. Or rival, depending who they support! 😉
“Pixies?!” My nephew spun towards me. He’s used to my scientific answers: refraction makes the sky blue, bites itch because of histamines, etc. When he asked how the dispenser gives him soap, he was probably expecting light beams or heat sensors.
“Pixies,” I said. “They sit in the machine and whenever they see a hand coming towards them, they panic! The Watching Pixie calls up to the Defensive Pixies and they fire soap!”
His eyes lit up. “But soap isn’t a weapon!”
“Makes the hand go away, doesn’t it?”
A full minute later: “Is soap pixie poop?!”
If you enjoyed the science in this week’s Friday Fiction, check out this old Inspiration Mondays story about how fridge lights work.
It’s my photo this week. The picture shows part of the Rouge River near Toronto Zoo. It’s a beautiful place and feels a lot like freedom on day trips from the city. We take the kids often and let them paddle, climb and explore. It’s one of those places that is wonderful in every season. We went a lot this winter, when there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, but this particular story takes place back on the city streets, inspired by those bleak ‘eyes’ staring out of the image.
Toronto has had the longest lockdown in North America (one of the longest in the world; depending how you measure it); as we gradually lift restrictions, it’s clear that lives have been saved, but you only have to talk to a few people to learn the cost of the lockdown. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have done it, I’m just saying we need to acknowledge the losses and find ways to minimise their effects.
It’s our designated hour for walking.
I remember the first weeks, when we skipped in the Spring sunshine, enjoying the freedom and the fresh air on our faces. We’d take chalk and leave trails for friends to follow. After our hour, we’d retreat inside, draw rainbows and paste them to our windows.
The rainbows are faded now. The sun’s shining, but we trudge. I catch a glimpse of a face pressed against the glass. His eyes are empty; he is young enough not to have known the Beforetimes. I wonder if he’s young enough that he will see the After.
Father Michael was glaring, hellfire shooting at me out of his eyes. I stopped dancing and bowed my head, but it still felt like he was watching.
“We’re supposed to listen to the music. It makes us feel closer to God,” he said after. I knew he meant me.
I asked Ms Mwanna later. “How can God make Father Michael angry when He’s the one who made me dance?”
“Your God makes a lot of people angry,” she said. “Keep dancing, my girl. I reckon you’re closer to Him than they are anyway. One day, you’ll light up their darkness.”
Melanie is a recurring character in my blog, and one of my favourite characters to write. You can find more of her stories using the Melanie tag.
As for this story and photograph, snow in July throws me for a loop. A friend recently posted a skiing photo on Facebook. It took too many seconds for me to realise she hadn’t shared a memory… she lives in New Zealand!!
Time moves slower on a train. It’s the perfect chance to read or to write, even to sleep. If you don’t mind occasionally waking up in Wales. But the world moves faster around it, changes at a glance. Bleak warehouses become sheep, huddling from the rain that minutes ago was sun.
You can age a year just waiting for leaves to be cleared, but the world won’t hold on. The wedding can’t be delayed for a single guest, even one who might have put a stop to it and told her she was making a mistake. Especially not for him.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is a great example of why I didn’t study physics beyond 16. I just… no, it’s ridiculous. I mean, I’m not saying I know better than our great scientists, I’m just saying this is theoretical too far for me. If you are interested though, here’s the video Sebastian and I watched this morning to try to understand it for this story. Start about 3 minutes in for the portion this narrator is referring to.