Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Small comforts

In times of sadness, all we may need for comfort is a familiar face, reassuring voice or gentle touch.  

Children will likely seek out a favourite toy, a trusted friend or adult. The following is an excerpt from The Year of the Rabbit where Sera Fletcher is saddened after hearing about more loved ones planning to leave town.

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Summer 1975 at the Red Hare restaurant:

Sera folded the stroller and leaned it against the back wall before heading upstairs to the apartment.  On her way up, she straightened the picture frames of her railway friends. She entered her room to change into her pajamas and prepare for bedtime wash-ups. When she returned to the room, she tidied up her clothes and folded them neatly on the chair for wearing another day. 

She thought about the events of the day.  Dela and Amy were leaving town and taking Harry with them.  Matthew wasn’t getting better.  He was selling their family home.  

She reached for Edgar, her stuffed bear and pulled him in for a hug.  She squeezed him tightly for reassurance.  The music box in his torso made the familiar chiming sound.  She sat on her bed and held him in front of her.  His brown and black glass eyes stared back at her, as if showing concern.  She gently squeezed his stomach with both hands in tempo to the rock-a-bye-baby rhyme.  She played it over and over again, as if in a trance, seeking comfort.  Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top…

How stupid, she thought as she continued squeezing.  This song is about a baby falling out of a frigging tree!  How is someone supposed to fall asleep with THAT image in his or her head?  She thought about Harry in the tree today, how happy and carefree he was and how she held him safely so he would not fall. 

She started to cry, suddenly realizing that he was going away, far away and that she would miss the little guy.  She pulled Edgar in closer and hugged him tightly then burst into sobs and lay down on her pillow.

Why? She thought while sniffing and sobbing.  Why am I losing people I love?  I’m losing my family.  Where is my family?  Who is my family anymore?  Who is my real father?

There was a gentle knock on the door then Jenny’s voice, “Sera? Sera?”

“Yes?” she answered.

“May I come in?” asked Mrs. Young.

“Yes,” Sera responded without moving.

Jenny entered smiling then suddenly changed her expression when she saw Sera’s tear-stained face.

“Oh, Sera!  What’s wrong sweetheart?”

Sera rose on her side to meet Jenny in a hug as the woman sat on her bed.

“I’m so sad, Mrs. Young,” she sobbed, “I’m so sad about everything.”

“Everything?  Why is that?”

“Well,” she sniffed, “Amy and Dela are going away and they’re taking Harry with them.”

“Yes, I know.  I’m sad about that too.”

“I’m going to miss him so much.  Taking care of him makes me happy.  I feel grown-up and… like a kid all at the same time.”

Jenny stroked Sera’s head and ran her fingers in and out of the unruly, dark curly hair.  “I know, Sera.  It’s hard for us to see them leaving too.  We have to remember that Amy is eighteen years old now and is a young adult who can make her own decisions. Dela is mature and responsible at sixteen.  We trust them with taking Harry.  They’re going on a journey to visit family in Alberta.  They’ll call.  They’ll write.  Understand?“

“I know…” Sera looked at Jenny momentarily, noticed grey strands of hair forming at the front of her hairline.  She felt a bond of love and trust between them.

“They’re going to visit my family, my parents and siblings in Edmonton.”

“Why aren’t you going too?”

“Well… There’s this restaurant to run, and you to look out for,” she smiled at Sera, “and.. relations between my parents and me have been strained since I married Carl and moved way over here.  We’re letting Amy and Harry warm the ice.  My mother seems very happy to have them visit.”

“That’s nice,” said Sera sleepily, “It’s nice to have family.” 

“What else is bothering you?” asked Jenny.

Sera wasn’t sure about mentioning the fact that Amy and Dela were lovers and how Jenny would respond. There was no way she could mention her resurfacing guilt about the crime she and Gwen committed.  

“I’m worried about… my Dad and that he’s not my Dad anymore.”

Jenny suddenly stopped stroking Sera’s hair then spoke, “Oh, Sera.  That’s okay.  It’s good to show your concern about his health.  He has been through a lot the past few years.”

“It’s hard to understand, to accept these things that happen around us,” said Sera.

“Maybe you will find comfort with talking to Mr. Young and me.  Think of this as your second home, okay? We’ll be here for you when we can, understand?”

“Yes.  Thank you,” Sera smiled, a little tired-out from the day.  She recalled the Buddha statue and the secret cabinet in the living room.  This seemed like a good time to work it into the conversation. 

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Thanks for reading.  Drop by www.yearoftherabbit.ca for more information about the novel. 

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