Whisper 1.37

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One afternoon, in early spring, the sun comes out. The valley is brighter than I’ve ever seen it. I hear geese honking and I look up to see a V flying west. I remember that afternoon back in college, a whole lifetime ago, when a flock of geese flew in formation through a rainbow. That was a moment when I felt connected to everything and life fell together for me. Remembering that moment, reflecting on how much life I’ve lived in between then and now, it all comes together again. I feel, just for this very moment, in step with destiny.

When I come inside, Bobobo marches through the bedroom. He leaves a trail of flowers, but he has a scowl on his face.

“What’s wrong, little sprout?” I ask him.

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“I want Dino Croc!” he says.

I follow him into the living room where he grabs his crocodile dinosaur toy and tackles it in a squeeze of a hug.

“Baby!” he says.

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Later, I find him playing with blocks at the activity table.

“Green!” he squeals, rolling the green block between his palms. “Green, green, only every green!”

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When he plays the xylophone, I notice that he mostly hits the green note. Every time he does, he laughs and calls out “Green!” But on the rare occasions that he hits red or blue, he says, “No! Bad red! Bad blue!”

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That afternoon, while Zoey watches Marigold finish her homework, Bobobo plays with the peg box toy. Once again, he favors the green blocks.

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While we’re reading, I point out all the colors. “Look, it’s a red cat. There’s an orange house. See the pink flower?”

“Stupid,” he says. “Green is best.”

“What do you like about green?” I ask.

“Plant!” he replies.

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In the morning, we see that the snow has melted overnight. It’s raining, and the air smells fresh. After Marigold goes to school, Bobobo and I take a trip to the bookstore. He laughs at the rain. “Grow! Grow!” he giggles.

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“Look!” I say. “There’s Arkvoodle’s space ship!”

“Arkvoodle green!” says Bobobo. “Arkvoodle is good.”

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“Mom,” Marigold says while she’s working out. “I think my brother is obsessed.”

“You mean with green things?” I ask.

“Yeah,” she says. “He’s nuts.”

“It’s normal for smart children to have strong interests and preferences,” I say. “Do you remember how you felt about Lamber?”

“But that’s different!” she says. “Lamber is a lamb! Lambs are cool! What’s so good about green?”

“Plants!” says Bobobo.

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We laugh.

“OK, Sprout,” says Marigold. “You’ve got a point there! And just to show I agree, I’m doing my homework outside. In the garden. With the plants. Because, you know, plants are smart.”

“Yup,” he says. “Grow smart, green!”

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It’s the night of Spring Prom. After Marigold finishes her homework, she puts Bobobo to sleep.

“I’ve got to go out, little brother,” I hear her say, “so you be good for our mom, OK?”

Marigold has started looking out for me, helping out more around the house and encouraging me not to work too hard.

“I’m not decrepit,” I protest.

“No,” she replies, “but you’re ancient. And I want you to become even ancienter.”

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She grumbles when the limo pulls up. “I really did petition for a Prius after last prom,” she says. “I’ll be riding the bike back again when it’s over.”

“Call me when it’s done. And we’re expecting snow again, so ride safe!”

“OK, Mom,” she says.

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The baby’s asleep, Marigold is out, and Dante comes.

“How’s your day, sweet?” he asks.

“Good,” I say, “and even better now.”

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We talk about the weather. It’s snowing again.

He looks at me with tender concern.

“What’s wrong?” he asks. “Are you tired?”

I know that I can’t cheat fate, and that there’s a timing to everything, but I admit that I’ve got a special wish.

“Bobobo and Marigold, I want them to be able to stay kids as long as they can. I’m worried that if I leave soon, they’ll have to grow up and they won’t get real childhoods. I’m getting old, Dante.”

“You’re right that fate has its own calendar,” Dante says. “I never expected to go when I did. I can’t say that I regret it, though, when I think about what’s come to pass. With you, and everything, here at your home.”

“Our home,” I say.

“Our home.” When we finish talking, he takes out the trash and looks around to see if there’s anything else that needs doing.

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Bobobo wakes.

“Story!” he shouts from his crib.

“Which one?” I ask.

“Giants!” he says.

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Marigold calls as we finish the Giant book.

“I’m on my way home!” she says.

“It’s icy!” I say. “Ride safe!”

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We’re on the alphabet book when she comes home.

“How was the dance?” I ask.

“Same old,” she says. “Chet ignored me, I got rejected for a dance, I got in a fight, I got voted Prom Queen. Everybody looked really great all dressed up, though!”

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We look at her prom photo.

“You look like some kind of kung fu Prom Queen,” I say.

Everybody was kung fu dancing!” she sings.

“Magic Sissy!” says Bobobo. We look again and agree. She does look like a sorceress casting a spell.

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The children are asleep when I wake early the next morning. The ground is blanketed in snow, and the mountains to the south begin to glow with the sun’s rosy light. It’s dawn, on a snowy spring morning. I feel young inside, the same way I did when I was a child, and I feel hopeful. Every shard of hope brings a slice of pain–what if the hope doesn’t hold?

But as I gaze over the valley, in the silence of the predawn moments, peace descends, and it’s a peace that stills the chatter of hope and its promises, leaving behind something more real: acceptance. Fate is greater than the boldest hope. And in this long life, I’ve learned that fate, or destiny, or that-what-is, when met with acceptance, leads to the mystery which contains the seed of joy. Let it be, whatever it will be.

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Whisper 1.6

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In my dream, I have a best friend. I don’t see his face, I just feel the closeness between us. It reminds me of when Chauncey and I were best friends, before we became not-friends, and then just good friends. I miss having a best friend.

You’ll have a best friend again. Be patient.

I wish I knew what it took to keep friends. I seem to be able to make them OK; it’s just keeping them that’s been hard.

I’ve always heard the advice, “Just be yourself,” but when I’m myself, that’s when my friends decide they don’t like me, after all, and stop being my friends. Maybe I just need to keep looking so that I find people who really do like me, when I’m being myself. I don’t want to have to pretend, or to hide my rough spots, just to maintain friends. That’s not real friendship–that’s pretend friends.

While I’m lying in bed, thinking over all the things I might be doing that prevent me from keeping my friends, I hear something being slid under my door.

It’s a big manilla envelop.

In it are my term grades.

What’s this? I missed some questions on the exams? I thought I aced them!

I earned a B? What? I thought I was getting all A’s!

Relax. Earning a B your first semester of college is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

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What am I saying! I got a B! B is for Better! Yay!

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Next term, I’ll earn an A.

The van arrives to take me back home for break, and, to my surprise, all my dorm mates come out to see me off.

“Bye! See you guys next term! Be safe!”

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It’s snowing when I arrive home. The valley is dark and beautiful.

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Inside, Jin cooks mac and cheese and Chauncey reads.

“Hi, guys. How’ve you been?”

They don’t say much.

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It feels awkward. Jin burns supper and goes to bed hungry. Chauncey hardly even looks up from his book. I can hardly wait for break to finish.

You could always head back to college early.

In fact, I decide to sign up for Inter-session, and the next day, I’m on my way back to university.

At the dorm, all the other Inter-session students are moving in.

I talk with this guy dressed like Sgt. Peppers.

“So, the theory is that once we identify our specific mental constructs, we can begin to,  you know, deconstruct them.”

“I’m into music,” he says.

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As I head up the stairs to my room, I catch the scent of fresh broccoli stalks, kale, and spinach. My vegetarian mouth begins to water.

There, using my easel, stands a very green man.

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“I hope you don’t mind,” he says, and his breath smells like snow peas. “This was the only free easel I could find.”

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“That’s OK,” I say. “You can use it any time I’m not.”

My stomach growls.

“What was that?” he asks.

“Oh,” I say. “Never mind. I just love leafy greens, that’s all.”

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