Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Letter to Charlie #5

Dear Charlie,

I notice you haven’t replied to any of my letters.
I know that you are very busy. There’s the sleeping, eating, and going to the park. There’s the whole becoming a “person” and “figuring out the world”, etc. Not to mention practising your animal sounds.
I do see how busy you are.
So, maybe, you could post a comment? Just so I know you’re getting these?

Thanks, and
Much love,
Your Mum

Ben and Jerry's Factory

I kicked my toe on the fireplace. My sister was in the room at the time, playing with Charlie. I thought: Don’t say a word! Because I knew if my sister said, “Oh, you kicked your toe, are you okay?” my head would explode. I knew that.
She did not say a word. She just kept on playing with Charlie. I waited a moment and then left the room. I felt extremely grateful to my sister. There had been a silent communication between us – a beautiful understanding.
This was weeks ago. The other day, taking Charlie to the doctor for his 12 months shots, I said, “Look, there’s nothing you can do about a toe, is there?”
The doctor was silent. She gazed at me.
“I mean,” I said, “if I kicked my toe weeks ago and it still really, really hurts – I mean, it still makes me go aaah! just when I’m walking along – well, it’ll heal itself eventually, right?”
She asked me to take off my shoe.
“It’s swollen to twice its size and it’s quite crooked!” she exclaimed. I wasn’t sure if she was pleased or angry.
She told me to get x-rays.
“But,” I said, carefully, “even if it’s broken, I mean, there’s nothing – I mean, what could you do?”
“That,” she said, “is a multiple choice question.”
So I got the x-rays. They tied a ribbon around the other toes to pull them apart from the crooked one for the photos.
The x-ray report said that the toe was fractured. Charlie, I said, this is my first ever fracture. One day, I said, this toe will predict rain.
The doctor said it was a good fracture. She sent me to a podiatrist. The podiatrist trimmed my toenails for me, and told me she’d once lived in Burlington, Vermont.
“We spent a lot of time,” she said, “at the Ben and Jerry’s factory.”
She said she was going to make a splint for the toe. But the splint was a disappointment. It looked exactly like squashed pink bubble gum.
The whole time I was there, she kept Charlie entertained by handing him objects to play with. He was sitting on my lap on the white reclining chair.
The first object she gave him was a foot.
“Don’t worry,” she told me, “it’s just bones.”
Then she murmured to herself, “Not real bones.”

Later, it emerged that my sister had not even noticed me kicking my toe. That’s why she hadn’t said a word.
“I can’t believe you broke your toe,” she said, “and didn’t say anything. That’s so - ”
I thought she was going to say ‘brave’. I was ready with a brave, modest smile.
“That’s so weird,” she said.

Letter to Charlie #4

Dear Charlie,

You know how you sometimes try to take the nose right off my face, by grabbing it with your hand and twisting hard? And you know how, when you do that, I shriek?
That’s because you won’t let me cut your fingernails.

Much love,
Your Mum

Letter to Charlie #3

Dear Charlie,

In the mornings, when I come into your room, you are often sitting up in your cot with your thumb in your mouth, looking thoughtful. When you see me, you give me a dazzling smile, which is very kind of you.
And then, immediately, you say, “Ah!” and point to the window.
Next, you turn toward the book shelf and say “Ah!”
Finally, you declare, “Ah!” as you point to the chest of drawers.
So, my question is: why?
Is there something you need to communicate to me about the window, shelf and drawers? Do you need to be carried across to them? Do you want something passed to you from the window, shelf and drawers? Would you like me to remind you what they’re called?
Or are you simply surprised that they’re still there?

Much love,
Your Mum

The Party

It was the Twentieth Anniversary Party of Next Chapter Books in Warriewood. There were lucky door prizes and hors-d'oeuvres and some friendly writers: the lovely Michael Robotham (who ghost wrote Geri Halliwell’s autobiography, and also has best sellers of his own); a woman with a new slant on astrology; a writer of novels about surfing.
I sat at a table to sign books and a young man approached. He had a beard and a glass of champagne.
“Tell me about myself,” he said, very smooth.
I thought about that for a moment.
“Do you mean,” I said, eventually, “tell you about myself?”
“No.” He was emphatic. “Tell me about myself.”
After a moment, I murmured, helplessly, “But where do I know you from?”
The young man looked stern. He straightened up.
“You’re a clairvoyant!” he cried. “Tell me about myself!”
I had to explain that I was not a clairvoyant.
“The astrologer,” I realised. “She’s over there. These are fiction,” I said. “I write fiction.”
“Do you?” he said, moodily. He looked down at my piles of books and wandered away.