Around the Bend

About the Author
  SELECTED STORIES by Laura Beausoleil
The Fawn
Around the BendJessie • A Happy Child • A Loss of Memory
HairA Deep Purple BeautyPoor FrankMeeting Henry MillerLes Mutiles
What Can We Do For You, Mrs. Ross?I Was Here But Now I'm Not
The Moustache HouseMexico

A Happy Child

“Is he a happy child?” she asked. I said that when he was born I thought it rather significant that he came out face up rather than face down in the usual position. That he was looking up, I said, was a good omen, don’t you think? Now he’s a little mite, small and sturdy. He comes up to here, I said, touching my chest.

“I saw him yesterday, waiting for the bus,” she said. “Does he take the bus alone now?”

Oh yes, I said, he does a lot of things alone now. I know which bus stop you mean. The one with the brick wall behind it. In fact, every time I pass that bus stop I look over to see if he’s there.

I leave him sometimes, you know, I said. The last time I saw him, he was walking down the sidewalk under the shower trees in the park with his father, and they were talking very intently, the taller bending to the smaller, and I called out to them “goodbye” and they did not seem to hear me. I called again, much louder, and they both turned for a moment and waved, their hands like little flags in the distance, and then the music began in my head and the colors, green and yellow, brilliant colors, gold even, as the light hit them, as they turned and continued walking down the path, talking very intently.

“You seem to see things like that, don’t you,” she said, “in scenes?”

It wasn’t hard to miss, I said. I felt like he belongs to his father, not me.

The last time I left him I was gone for quite a while, I told her. I dreamt about fish all of the time. I don’t know why I would dream about fish. I was down by the ocean, it’s true. I could see waves and kelp, and boats, but never once did I see a fish. Time went by slowly and I sometimes wondered if he missed me and you know, I don’t think he did. Sometimes I would call him on the telephone and I would just ask him things like, was he eating well, was he eating any vegetables, his father, you know, doesn’t like vegetables very much, and was he getting any taller. I was afraid to ask him whether he missed me.

But I missed him. When I was not dreaming about fish I would dream about him. He would always be out there on the ocean in one of those little boats, among the kelp, drifting as the waves tossed it about. I would call out to him from the shore, call to him to steer in because the weather was changing, and he would just wave to me, his hand a little flag and his body small and sturdy. He comes up to here you know.

And then the colors would begin, deep blue, deep green and bright gold as the light hit him and then the darkest black. With no warning at all, black. I would be in the dream just standing there on the shore, calling, watching the blue of the sea and the gold of his hair, the waves tossing him, and then, black, just black.

“Then you came back?” she asked.

Yes, I said. I told them I would. His father promised that they would meet me at 10:00 in front of the store. I was there on time. But they weren’t there. I paced up and down and at 10:15 I tried to call them. There was no answer. I went back to the store and waited for another half hour. I had some place to go at 11:00. At 10:45 I gave up waiting and began to walk down the street away from the store. I passed that bus stop, the one with the brick wall behind it. I looked over, almost as if a string were tied to my head, pulling at gears to look over at that spot. But he was not there. A bus came and no one got off or on.

I was worried about time and so I kept on walking. It was then that I heard the voice. It went “Maamaa, Maamaa,” like a little sheep. I stopped and turned around and just as I did, the voice stopped. I looked at the bus stop again. He was not there. I turned to keep going on my way and the moment I turned, the voice went “Maamaa, Maamaa,” and I spun around very quickly and the voice stopped. I looked up at the windows of the buildings around me, thinking some other child was calling to its mother, but there was no child I could see, there was no open window even. There was no one on the street. I kept walking and the voice began again, "Maaamaaa, Maaamaaa,” and then I began to shiver and cry and I turned very quickly to catch it and it stopped just as I turned, and I stood there and cursed and cried, and said, what is this dirty trick. I had to keep going, and thevoice went on, “Maaaamaaaa, Maaaamaaaa,” and I turned once more and it stopped and I was shaking and trembling and crying, and then my own bus came and I ran for it, I had to catch it to make the voice stop and as I was running I could still hear, “Maaamaaa, Maaamaaa,” as if a ghost were speaking. I got on the bus.

“Where were they?” she asked.

Having a doughnut, I said.

“You see things like that, don’t you,” she asked, “in scenes?”

It wasn’t hard to miss, I said.

“And then what happened?” she asked.

When I finally saw him, I said, he came walking down the sidewalk toward me and his arms were outstretched like envelopes and it was gray that day, the way summer days here are gray and he didn’t say anything but put his arms around my waist and, you know, he had grown so much, his head came up to here.

  © Laura Beausoleil, 2010  

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