Page 43 - WTP Vol. XI #5
P. 43

but the time had come for this meme-guy to develop some deeper capabilities, which he was refusing to do. What made him a failure was not that he hadn’t achieved anythng, but that he didn’t welcome the richer, greater joys of maturation through struggle. The meme made me deeply uneasy.
Downtown, cars with rusty gutters in their sunroofs creeped through busy crosswalks towards the recy- cling station. We joined the line. It stopped. Father tapped his hands on the steering wheel to the folk music. Facing the same direction through the wind- shield made conversation easier. We pointed out things we liked: the stained glass in the church, beau- tiful; the old couple under the oak in the green, beau- tiful; driver’s letting other drivers go first, beautiful.
In the morning Father loaded scrap metal into the bed of the truck. It was the annual metal collection day before Town Meeting. Posters had gone up weeks ago: Everyone in Town Bring Your Metal to the Recy- cling Center Day (PICNIC TO FOLLOW!!).
The line of cars had not moved for several minutes. Up ahead, two drivers, both thin middle-aged men wearing similar checkered shirts, got out and stood in the road talking over their open driver doors, laughing and cheerful. The cars started to move and both men put one leg in but kept talking, faster and faster as they tried to finish the jokes they were making, yelling over their doors, ducking under their roofs and popping out once more to get the last word, cackling and leaning in, popping out. Even- tually they came together at the hood of the grey Sienna, waving other cars around them, laughing
The day had some official title, I don’t remember it. I watched him from the kitchen window, sunlight
 "It was silent for a long moment. This was the unbearable fact of my pres-
ence; I had become barbed, stifling their happy brains out of fear of sharp rebuke."
to each other as they wheeled their arms; a friend of theirs in the Chevy in front of us shouted “hey
get a move on,” and one grinned and raised a fin- ger to point zingingly down the street. As we drove around them the white-haired, sturdy-necked guy who looked like Geoff Dyer glanced sideways and we made glimmering eye contact through my open window. I heard him telling a story, he lifted both palms like he was carrying a box and showed this invisible carton to his interlocuter— someone in his story was about to say something ridiculous—and he squinted at me in pleasure as our eye contact passed, and his voice through the open window said “...suddenly I hear him say from behind me...” and most of his concentrated love went to his friend and his story, but enough love passed through our eye contact to preserve his expression in mind for the rest of the day.
 along the window frame impenetrably bright. I loved town events. I put my boots on in the mudroom, in the smell of childhood and comfort.
“Good morning good morning good morning,” Father said, cheerful to be working with his hands. Bach played through the outdoor speakers. The choir
was also the sunlight; the notes and sunbeams were inseparable. The low branches of the conifers spread cool shade on the gravel.
“That’s awesome,” Dad said of the guys choosing to give up their place in line to talk. I agreed. That was who I wanted to be, that storyteller—he seemed physically unable to give up the pleasure of laughing with a friend on Main Street in the midmorning sun with a day of work to look forward to, and then the picnic, then the town meeting, then the town cookout in the park with the Sox on the radio.
Dad rolled his shirt sleeves up and stood on the tail- gate while I lifted the tarp from the bottom. The random assortment of various scrap was too heavy to lift by a factor of ten, so we stood listening. Blue- bottomed clouds moved at a fast angle just above the trees. The sun on the side of the house cast endless shadows on the smallest imperfections. I handed up buckles, springs, two amplifiers with broken tubes, rusted poles, old pieces of fence, an ammo box filled with bent nails.
Clements is a copywriter and maritime journalist in Portland, Maine. After graduating Hampshire college in 2018, he apprenticed on a farm and worked in a shipyard before writing full-time. He teaches Chess and makes art. This is his first piece of published fiction.

   41   42   43   44   45