BY NANCY BOYCE
Copyright is held by the author. This story was originally published on-line with Marco Polo, a U.S.-based art magazine, as one of the winners in its 100×500 contest in September 2012
WE WERE EXPECTING a visit from our friend June and her daughters on their way out of town. June’s unwillingness to let a schedule rule her life is the defining difference between her and me, but I admire the way she has raised her daughters to be unafraid of life’s challenges.
Hoping they would have lunch with us, I made a large, hearty soup. The phone rang late afternoon and a garbled voice on the other end launched into a conversation without saying who it was. “We’ve just packed up the car. Are you home tonight?”
“Yes,” John answered.
“I can’t hear him, hello, hello.”
“Hello, hello,” John replied. There was no response from the other end, but John continued his hellos until he heard a dial tone.
I cooked extra for dinner and tucked away some leftovers in case I needed to put on a mid-evening meal. My mind travelled back to a previous visit with June and her daughters. We were outside saying our goodbyes, when her daughter Skye checked the car trunk to ensure she had her book. She started pulling out and shifting the not so neatly packed items. When she came up empty, she raced back into the house and retrieved her book. We exchanged our last hugs and they installed themselves safely into the car.
June turned the key and the car made a soft clicking sound, but wouldn’t start. She tried again; same sound. Skye jumped out of the back seat and ran around to the trunk and started pulling out items and dropping them to the ground. I was baffled. Was it another lost book? Suddenly the other daughter Tess jumped out and with all her might lifted the creaking car hood. Skye located the battery charger in the trunk and rushed to give it to Tess, who hooked it up expertly. June turned the key again. Responsibilities had been assigned by age. They were a perfect team, each knew their role. John and I stood by watching, equally amused and impressed as car doors were flung open and people flew into action. The car refused to start; even the battery charger needed charging. “Can we plug in the charger?” Skye asked. After 30 minutes, she said confidently, “That’ll do it. The car battery will charge itself once we get going.” I wondered what they would do if the car died again and they were not in a convenient location to recharge, but I was assured that they wouldn’t turn the car off until they were home safely.
After dinner I lay on the sofa and watched the front door. I was almost asleep when John said he saw the security light come on. We made our way to the front door and peered out. The security light had been triggered by a raccoon in search of birdseed. We gave up finally and went to bed.
I looked forward to the next day of no cooking and leftovers. Perhaps we would see them on the return trip.