Home and Elsewhere
"Tell me a story," he begs.
"Why donít you tell me one instead? Say Antarctica. Tell me about that."
"Iím so quick I have three ideas already," he bursts, swinging wild arms as he giddily weaves along the road.
"One, an explorer goes there and finds a lost city like Atlantis. Two, scientists get lost and nearly die. Three, a ship ends up there by accident when
they think they are at the Equator." A car passes, too close. He does not see.
"You see my mind is super active. But I forget so fast." Another car. I grab him. He kicks out at Antarctica, the pavement, autism, me.
"Iím fine. Let go."
We grapple, argue about traffic. I am the horrified storytraveller who has caught sight of the Antarctic, and wants the other to get out of tropical gear and put on
warm clothes. But he is whirling on, ignoring icebergs, his mind fast like the trade winds taking him northwards. Antarctica is old hat now.
"We could walk the other way," I suggest. "Thereís less traffic." He giggles, flaps his hands. A penguin. Far from home.
We compromise. I walk on the outside and donít make him hold hands. He tells me some robot ideas. Antarctic Atlantis is discarded, useless like the supplies the lost
story scientists could not find.
We are home, but he is gone again. His mind is like an iceberg. I cannot see all the way down.
* * *
We push the chess pieces around the board, as if we didnít both know that soon, I am going to let him win. Then he will agree to bedtime, and I will get that
magical hour to veg out, watch telly, be myself again. So I start to lose, and he probably knows I am doing it, but winning is warm fuzzies and he loves his Mum.
So he plays along even if he is a bit old for that now, the same way he will kindly use the faded Superman towel that he used to love as if he didnít need a
bigger one. He knows about money and Mum being tired. I used to get so fed up of hearing him go on about Superman. He wins, and off he goes, and suddenly I am
crying, because quite soon he will be grown up and gone and Iíll have all the time and money and TV but no Superman.