Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: imagination

The Wish

“You shouldn’t encourage her,” Juanita’s mother pontificated.
“Me? I thought it must have been you.”
“I never said a word. She made it all up. By herself.”
“She has some imagination, I’ll grant her that. But she’s only a child. She’ll get over it. In time,” said her dad patiently.
“Reality catches up with us all,” sighed her mother.
“It’s just a pet. One of many,” replied Juanita’s Dad.

The back screen door groaned. Both parents looked at each other. Always they were bound to the unspoken rule. Parents must be seen and not heard. At least not in front of the children.

A click of heels announced itself. A pink tutu swayed first side to side then up and down. A moppet curl appeared as if from nowhere.
In leapt Juanita. She skipped lightly, her face beaming, her voice joyous.

“I said my prayers,” she said. “Just like I was told to.”
“Juanita…”, her Dad began. Her eyes smiled at him.
“Who told you that?” Snapped her mother.
“My friend. The one you can’t see.” Juanita’s voice was like running water.
“Sometimes, things don’t…,” counselled her mother. Juanita tossed her curls. And laughed. Neither parent could look at her. Nor could they speak.

“We know Misty is sick,” interjected her father.
“And sometimes sick people don’t get better,” added her mother.
“They do. She said so. I said so. And Misty will too”, Juanita said confidently. “So there,” she concluded.

Her tousled hair flew. She nodded.”I know.” She pointed to herself. Then she pointed upwards. “And He does too.”
And she danced away. The back door thudded shut. Mother and Her parents exchanged forlorn looks both clouded by doubt.

“I don’t know where she gets it from,” her mother said, “she’s only going to be disappointed.”
“Well, I didn’t tell her. She certainly didn’t get those pious thoughts in her pretty little head from me,” her father chuckled. “I have a whole canon of atheism to defend. She’ll get over it.”
“I know. Losing a pet is a horrible experience for a child to go through. And she’s making it far worse by denying it,” her mother replied.
“I’m going to have to bury it, you know,” her father said grimly.
“If she’ll let you. She still goes back to it hoping it will wake up.”

Both parents looked outside. Juanita was bent over a prone black body. They only turned away for a second. But that was enough for both of them to feel a warmth steal in from outside. Enough to make them shiver.

A scratching like steel wool against a fry pan. Then a dull sproing. Then a rusty metallic groan. The outside screen door had swung open again. Both parents looked at each other.

Unusually or rather as usual then there was a thump. Soft rubber paddling on wood. Then the soft pitter patter up the stairs. Four paws padded in. Black eyes glittered from a smooth furry head. All suffixed by a hungry meow.

“What?” both parents spoke at once.

A click of heels. A pink tutu. A shake of curls. A flutter of angel wings. Then Juanita appeared. Skipping, dancing, smiling. “See!” Her parents still couldn’t.

What Did He See?

He was standing in the lounge room. He was pushing against the glass of the wooden framed back doors, fortunately closed and locked. I thought for a moment how strong he was and yet how he could topple over and fall so easily. He appeared to be watching something. Perhaps a kangaroo or wallaby had appeared and was now grazing in the backyard. The floor boards creaked as I walked across from the kitchen.

He heard that. And then he saw me. He waved and pointed to catch my attention.  I watched as he listened to the rough floor boards under my tread. When I arrived, he looked up at me. Then he pointed outside. He had not spoken a word. I was used to that. Yet he seemed to understand more than he could say.

He said, “I saw a big yellow man.” I stopped in shock. He had only just learned to speak clearly. And only one or two words at that. Not whole sentences. And now he was seeing things too. As for me, I hadn’t seen or heard anything. But that was about to change.
A few weeks earlier, my wife had claimed she had seen an apparition leave the kitchen broom cupboard. My five year old daughter had agreed she had seen it too. Yet neither could describe it in any detail.  I took that as an excuse to discount their story. It could’ve been the wind blowing the cupboard open again.  I didn’t believe in such things. And now this.
I looked where he pointed. Through the two doors that led nowhere, I stared into the backyard. I tilted my head to avoid the reflection of the lounge room and the glare of the afternoon sun. I could see one of our water tanks on my right. Then the mix of grass and poorly tilled soil left after the clearing. In the middle of the yard, I could see the thoughtlessly located septic tank.  A no-name missile silo. Leading away to the right,  I could see the pumpkins that were the sole inhabitants of our first vegetable garden. Then the reed grass, thin wiry scrub and the gum trees that bordered our property.

I looked carefully for what I thought was there. But I couldn’t see a yellow man. Perhaps the sunlight had coloured a tree gold and he had mistaken that for a man.  But I couldn’t see that either. Yet my three year old son was insistent. He raised his hands and indicated a height. My intuition wanted to speak with me. I didn’t want to listen.

Instead rational thought intruded. Right now I’m experiencing a significant moment in my son’s development, I thought. He is about to tell his first lie. With that thought in mind,  I began composing the normal parental response. Within seconds I would be saying, “It’s nothing: It’s just your imagination.” But unexpectedly I bristled at my own thought. I felt a surge of anger. Why would he lie? Who could have taught him that? How could he lie?

And then my intuition finally arrived. He’s telling you that the man was taller than the trees. After that I began seeing things too…

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