Monday, April 4, 2011

The Refraction of Water


           Stephen Banks never had perfect vision.  He did not discover that he had 50/10 vision, however, until age twelve, when the teachers at PS 404 demanded that he be taken to be tested.  He was always the quiet, helpful child in the back row who never had a lunch and got by in school and life mostly through the generosity of his peers.  He had to learn early on to rely on the kindness of strangers.  This gratitude and the desire to give back, in turn, led him to the job he currently holds at Meadowbrook Nursing Home. 
           He was able to end his shift early to head to the Walmart's parking lot and began waiting anxiously.  The big day was finally here.  Stephen wondered if she would recognize him; he was ashamed to admit to himself that her face was a distant memory to him now.  Mostly when he thought of her the only thing he could pull out of his memory was the smell of Newports and Elvis songs.  It's funny what the mind chooses to remember and what it chooses to forget.
            Focusing on the street, he saw a white Buick Le Sabre pull hesitantly into the empty parking lot.  He sucked in his gut automatically (even though he was still in his truck) and checked his teeth in the rearview mirror.  At this point what's done is done, he repeated to himself like a mantra, in reference to the situation.  Fear gripped his chest and he held nervously onto the door handle as the Le Sabre slowed to a crawl by the side of his truck, finally stopping three spots down from him.  Would she be angry that he didn't look for her sooner?  Should he be less angry that she didn't?
           The rain was coming down gently now, as if the universe was playing into the dramatics occurring in the Walmart parking lot. 
           When he couldn't take one more second of the panic in his throat he opened the door, strangely comforted by the familiar feel of the spring shower against his skin.  He did not know her smile or remember her voice, but he was certain of the sound of the rain smacking on the asphalt.  At once Stephen became hyperaware of her vague form approaching. He kept his head downward, willing himself to keep walking toward her as well.  The five year old boy in him was too terrifed to look directly at her.  Scenes of countless foster homes played in his memory.  Everything had brought him here to this.
          There was a lightness in his head as he felt his glasses slide off his face and heard them bounce on the pavement.  
          Bending down, he blindly fumbled for them. Crouching to retrieve them, he suddenly became furious that her first impression of him after all this time would be this.  He couldn't even keep glasses on his face! Years of hatred boiled up and he felt the vomit begin to rise in his throat.  
          "Stephen?" her voice called and anchored him briefly to the earth.
          He swallowed and began to put his glasses back on as he stood in front of this shadowy, colossal figure that had followed him all his life.  A phantom had become flesh.    There was a brief moment before she came into focus that Stephen saw the cresent shape reflections of the water droplets on his glasses.  He knew that when he looked past them, for the first time, he would see his mother.      


I'm sorry this Magpie was so long, i know usually we like to keep these short...but i am avoiding a take home exam and writing this was more pleasureable that doing the dishes.  Thanks for reading!

15 comments:

RNSANE said...

What a sad, heartbreaking tale. I do so hope that this reunion of son and mother turned out to be a healing time for them both.

Very well written. I was held riveted.

Templeton's fury said...

thanks RN,
i have high hopes for them too...

hedgewitch said...

And I thought I had baggage! A tough tale, far from too long, and pulling the reader right into it, like all good writing does. I hope there's a good resolution, or at least A resolution, in store for the boy with no lunch.

Read your exercise tale, and dead poets poem as well--enjoyed them both.

lunawitch15 said...

you have such wonderful talent!

Tess Kincaid said...

Great write, T. You really drew me in!

Trellissimo said...

You kept the suspense going well, but maybe let out too much information in the paragraph where you mentioned the 5 yr old boy? It rather spoilt the eclat of the last word...
Great idea, though.

Steve Isaak said...

Great storytelling. If you're ever looking to publish a story elsewhere, I have a microstory site that publishes stories like this: Microstory A Week.

There's no pay - though there may be in the future - and once I publish an author, I will promote, to the best of my ability, anything that author publishes (even elsewhere) via FB, my two sites, and email, when it's not egregious, and as long as said authors keep me updated.

(Normally, I don't plug Microstory like this - but you're an excellent/vivid writer, and I'd love to publish something by you.)

Whatever you do - great read, this.

Later, gator.

Lena said...

You are an awesome writer. I had tears in my eyes at the end of the story.

Loved it.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

very well written suspense short.

Carrie Burtt said...

A truly captivating read Templeton....like your one quote says....it is easier to teach a child than heal an adult. Hope you did well on your exam. :-)

Old Ollie said...

Great story...authentic and sad.

Cadan Henry said...

nice read. look forward to coming back.

cadan

HyperCRYPTICal said...

I like the story too.
It reminds me of suddenly seeing the world clearly when wearing glasses for the first time at four years old.

A shy child, although hating the look of them, I was grateful I could hide behind them.

Years later when investing in contacts - the world became even clearer again as I was freed from my glasses.

The ability to see is as much dependant on our inner vision as that we see through our eyes.

Great post... you really got me thinking!

Anna :o]

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent - I could feel his trepidation...

Bee's Blog said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. For a while there, I was in his shoes.