Sick Day

I had stayed home sick from elementary school.  It was a frigid winter day with ice crusted on the windows.  My bedroom was at the back of the house, far from the furnace and slightly colder than the rest of the rooms, and I was sick in bed, dreaming all the stale dreams of a day in bed underneath all the layers of blankets, huddled within, pretending to be deep in a cave, leaving that one little hole for light and air.

In the afternoon I watched my cartoons on the black and white TV that sat over on the dresser at the foot of the bed.  In my excitement over whatever show I was watching, I started bouncing on the bed and I made a gesture like I was about to throw something at the TV.  Just as I did this, I noticed one of the kids from school peering in at me through the frosted window across the room.  He had his red gloves cupped around his eyes, and his face pressed to the glass.  I could just make out the shape of him through the ice.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I just gathered up my thick bundle of blankets and wound them around me and rolled back over facing the other way.

But later on in the evening, as I got out of bed and crept out into the hallway, I heard the voices of my classmates coming from the living room.  I came down the hall to find them gathered around messing with our old stereo cabinet, the type with the wooden lid that lifts up to reveal a turntable and radio dial.  My father sat in an armchair among them, a darkened silhouette shape against the rosy light of the winter evening window over his shoulder.  I couldn’t see his face, couldn’t see what he thought of all of this.  My classmates just kept fiddling with the stereo knobs and laughing and telling my father how the kid had peeked in at the window and seen that I wasn’t really sick.

I got mad, listening to them go on about it.  I had come out from the bedroom still wrapped in one of my blankets, and I let this fall to the floor as I gathered an outraged breath and prepared to tell them all that they had no business staring in my windows and that the gesture that they’d seen had proven nothing and that they were all just looking to start trouble.  But then my father was there behind me, still dark and unseen, and he told me over my shoulder to calm down, to let it go, that none if it mattered as long as I knew the truth.

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6 thoughts on “Sick Day

  1. Aww, Bryan, this is wonderful reading for a day like today when the heat index is 114°. It goes just perfect with this “ice crusted” Bomb Pop! Very refreshing in many ways!

    Ha just so happens I'm reading an old book by Gene Stratton Porter, this afternoon called “Freckles”. The main characters, Freckles and Mr. McLean, resemble you and your father in your dream. Or at least to me they do. Here's an example of why you remind me of Freckles and why I think you might have some Irish in you:
    “…I come down from Corduroy road like a dirty, friendless tramp, and Mr. McLean was for taking me up, washing, clothing, and feeding me, and giving me a home full of love and tinderness, and a father to look to, and good, well-earned money in the bank. He's trusting me his heartful, and here comes you, you spotted toad of the big road, and insults me, is an honest Irish gintleman, by hinting that you concaive I'd be willing to shut me eyes and hold fast while you rob him of the thing I was set and paid to guard, and then act the sneak and liar to him, and ruin and etarnally blacken the soul of me. You rascal,” raved Freckles, “be fighting before I forget the laws of a gintlemin's game and split your dirty head with me stick!” Wessner backed away, mumbling, “But I don't want to hurt you, Freckles!” “Oh, don't you!” raged the boy, now fairly frothing. “Well, you ain't resembling me none, for I'm itchin' like death to git me fingers in the face of you.”
    Before Wessner could straighten himself, Freckles was on him, fighting like the wildest fury that ever left the soil of the beautiful island…

    Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that you have a good heart and honest soul like the boy in that book and it comes across in everything you write. That's why I like to read what you publish here.
    I think Freckle's adoptive Scottish father figure, Mr. McLean was describing you also, when he said:
    “Freckles, we never know the timber of a man's soul until something cuts into him deeply and brings the grain out strong. You've the making of a mighty fine piece of furniture, my boy…”

    I enjoyed reading this so much today! Thanks! 🙂

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  2. “. . . as long as I knew the truth.” This had an air of intrigue and mystery, made me wonder what truth. But I suppose your father was reassuring you that as long as you knew that you were sick you could ignore their taunts.

    Your narrative was compelling and vivid. I was there, seeing it all, feeling it all.

    Books by Gene Stratton Porter, which I read as a child, were equally vivid. I discovered two of them in my grandparents' house, probably belonging to my aunt Peggy: Song of the Cardinal & Girl of the Limberlost, if my memory serves.

    As for spelling, there was a time when the English owned the English language and ruled over everyone who spoke it. Sic transit gloria!

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  3. When my daughter was little, there were a couple of kids who made up things to get under her skin and she would argue with them. I'd basically tell her the same thing. She's knows it's not true; THEY know it's not true; don't rise to the bait.

    As for Gloria, I'm not sure why SHE'S sick, but transit will have that effect on some people.

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  4. A glorious day to the both of you!
    I have never heard that despairing phrase before. Couldn't get it out of my head when I was outside hoeing the garden. Blame it on the heat, but this is the warning phrase I came up with for me and my fellow neighbors.
    Nune tempus non nititur nostra laurus. Et faciendum opus est hora praeteriit. Semper diligentem. Zizania autemfinis principio.
    That's google translate for:
    Now is not the time to be resting on our laurels. The hour is late and there is work to be done. Be ever diligent. Weeds are the beginning of the end.

    Hey and if you still have 'Song of the Cardinal' and if it's a first edition in very good condition you could probably sell it for between $150 and $100!
    This first edition of Freckles I got for a dime at the rummage store isn't worth messing with to try to sell, but 'Song of the Cardinal' definitely is if you still have it.
    Hey, but I found a first American edition of 'Remembered Death' (aka as Sparkling Cyanide) by Agatha Christie in great condition and I think I can get about $50 for it. I might not even sell it, because the wartime conditions notice on it tugs at my heartstrings.

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