Oct 30

On the Dock

“Julie, have you seen my colored pencils?” I yelled to my older sister. “They're on the table where you left them” She yelled back without looking up from her book. “Why didn’t you move them?” I asked walking back into the living room where Julie sat curled up in the old, red chair by the pellet stove. “That’s not my job” she replied still looking only at her book, “Sure” I mumbled as I sat down on the floor and plopped my notebook and pencils on the coffee table. Soon I was deep into the land of drawing and reality had long faded away. All that mattered now was what shade of blue to use for the sea and if the edge of the sun should be smooth or zig-zagged. I was so absorbed in every detail that I didn’t notice Julie looking over my shoulder, “That’s good” she said gazing at my island scene. She used a mellow voice, almost like she didn’t mean what she was saying but I could identify a hint of wow. I didn’t say anything and I tried to keep the happiness from showing,  I felt a small smile creep across my face as I turned the page in my notebook for another drawing. “ Oh, I meant to tell you,” she said, her eyes had returned to her book “Dad’s going away again” “WHAT!?!” I screamed scribbling over the fresh sheet of paper with green “Now don’t get worked up,” she said staring at me like I was mad “it’s just his annual work conference” “JUST!?! He could be going anywhere in the WORLD!!!! Do you hear me!? In the WORLD!!!! And he could be away for a weekend or a week or a couple weeks or even a month!! He could be away for a month, you hear? A MONTH!! And you say he’s just going to a conference, JUST!!! Do you even care?!?” I shouted. Then there was silence, I wanted to fill that silence with more shouting but I had no more to shout about. Then came the shame. Why had I got so angry so quickly? Why did I have to shout? What should I say to Julie to apologize? While these thoughts went through my head and the guilt soaked in Julie surprised me by talking first, “Ok” she closed her book with a snap and sat up straight “First of all I do care. Second of all Dad goes to this conference every year, I understand that it takes place in a different place each year, I understand that it is a different time of year every time he goes, I understand that it is for a different amount of time depending on where he goes, but he has been doing this for seven years. We got this. And third, try not to lose your temper so easily.” This is technically what I had said to myself but hearing my sister say it made my guilt melt away, “Your temper is the shortest known to man!” I yelled “Right back to you!” she yelled, standing up. “What’s going on here!” It was Mom. She had been working up stairs. I was surprised she hadn’t come down sooner what with all my yelling but my typical reaction kicked in and I yelled “Julie started it!” “Now, now, hold on! Let’s first hear both halves of the story. Julie, you first” mom said patting my shoulder. “Well,” Julie started “I just was saying that Dad was going away when somebody,” here she glared right at me with menace in her voice “decided to start screaming at me about how mad they were that Dad is leaving. Then I explained to that outraged little brute that this is no longer unusual then they decided to keep screaming and here we are” she concluded and sat down, obviously pleased with herself. “Now you” Mom said gesturing to me. That was where I relilized that everything Julie had said was the truth and there was no “my half of the story” so I simply mumbled “I wasn’t screaming and I’m not an outraged little brute” “yes, you are!” Julie shot back. “whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on there. Ok so you shouldn’t have been screaming,” she said to me. “Julie’s right, this is becoming second nature.”Behind Mom’s back Julie smirked at me and I felt my face burn. “And you should start practicing managing your temper” Mom added. “Fine!!” I yelled and stormed out the back door. I slammed the screen door behind me, I imagined the wood frame smashing into pieces with the force of my anger. This made me smile. My shame had been sold in for vengeance. I began thinking of different ways I could make Mom and Julie angry. Actually smashing the door would’ve made them angry, so would stealing something precious. While these thoughts went through my head I walked aimlessly through the wood that surrounded our house. The trees were bare, their leafen clothing lay on the forest floor. I was suddenly awoke from my evil thoughts by a rustling in a bush nearby. Quickly, forgetting my anger, I hid behind a fat oak tree and peeked out to see what animal had made the noise. Slowly and cautiously, a small, red fox emerged from under the bush and quickly scurried away. I suddenly felt sad knowing a fox that small would not survive the on coming winter, and as I walked on I felt glum. I then found myself at the edge of the lake behind our house. I looked out over the water and a sense of calm immediately took hold of me. I stepped out on to the dock where the boat usually sat moored, but not today. I slowly walked out to the end of the dock, the boards bobbing and creeking beneath me. We had to trust each other, me and the dock. It had to trust me that I wouldn’t make any sudden movements and I had to trust the dock that it wouldn’t let me fall. I had trusted this dock for many years, I still trust it now. When I reached the end of the dock I sat down at the top of the ladder going into the water, going into nothing. But it isn’t nothing, it’s everything, happiness, sadness, a gift, a curse, life, death. I looked down into the water, that beautiful, smooth, clean, clear water. And I thought of being in that water, letting it wash all my fears and worries away. I untied my shoe laces and took off my socks. I moved down one rung and let my feet swing in the water. The water was better than I thought. It didn’t just wash away my fears but it refreshed my spirit. I had been mad and gloomy and just about ready to cry when I came upon this beautiful scene. And what a beautiful scene it is. Across the lake mountains rise up from the ground, trying, but failing, to hide behind a forest like my own. The sun long gone behind the mountains still sends it’s rays across the sky in pinks, yellows and oranges. I know behind me the sky is turning a dark blue but I am transfixed on the scene before me. I thought back to my picture of the sea and the island, I wondered why I hadn’t drawn this lake, it is so much closer and so much more prettier. I was awoken from my thoughts by a voice, “Honey!” it was Mom. “Don’t come, please don’t come!” I whispered to myself, I didn’t want my mom to come and ruin this scene. Slowly I turned around and saw my mom making her way to the dock. The dock swayed and bobbed when she stepped on and continued as she walked closer. I expected her to start scolding as soon as she was close but she surprised me by sitting down next to me, taking her shoes and socks off and plunging her feet in the water. We then sat there soaking in the sunset and the water. Eventually Mom spoke, “I know how you feel,” she looked straight out at the water. “When your Dad went on his first business trip to London I was very nervous to be left alone with you and Julie but I got though and it wasn’t half as bad as I thought. The next time I knew what to expect and since then it’s just got better. I know it hasn’t always been that easy for you but we can do this.” She now was looking right at me, I felt her eyes, searching, searching for something in me. I made it easy. I let it out. “I just feel bad because you and Julie have gotten use to it but I still feel uncomfortable. Why is that?” here she smiled and said “ Julie isn’t used to it, in fact, she probably dislikes it more than you.” “Really?” I asked “ Yeah, the first time Dad left she cried everynight in my arms until she'd go to sleep. And even now she still cries when he tells her”. This shocked me. My older sister? Crying? “But I’ve never seen her cry” I said, confused. “That’s because she doesn't let you. Now don’t tell her I told you, she’ll kill me” Mom with a smile. I smiled too as Mom wrapped her arms around me as the stars filled the sky.