Sunday, December 10, 2006

The land of wishes

I decided to unpack my boxes of books today.

I packed up two of my bookshelves in a fit of American-style positive thinking two months ago. ('If you behave like you are moving house, you will move house.')

It's been clear for a while that we are, in fact, not moving house. But for some reason, I haven't unpacked those damned boxes. They've remained stacked in a corner of the study, for no good reason. Just in case. Meanwhile, the plundered bookshelves sit half-naked, accumulating new, haphazard, piles of books that don't quite cover them. Proof copies. New purchases. Picture books. Old favourites picked up from elsewhere and put down here.

In a fit of procrastinating this morning, I unpacked the boxes, sorted the haphazard piles, and restored my neglected shelves to their former dignity. I have three freelance articles due this week, plus my full-time job. (And my son.) It's all in the name of preparing for when my full-time work stops in January. And making nice with contacts who will hopefully continue to feed me next year.

Today, Sunday, is the day to get much of the work done.

I have decided that I will work better in a neat study.

As I empty the first box, my son appears excitedly at my side. He picks out a handful of books and hands them to me.

'Here you go.'

'What are you doing?'

'I'm helping.'

'Thanks. Why?'

'Can I play with these boxes now?'


As the empty boxes are scattered around the room, my son gets out his box of textas and begins work. There is a pirate ship, with a Pirate Smurf sticky-taped to the front and assorted pirates lovingly drawn inside and out. There is a Bionicle cubby house. I am enlisted to cut out windows and a trapdoor. And there is a Time Machine.

'I am such a lucky boy,' grins F. 'What did I do to deserve all these boxes?'

I finish my task and make grilled cheese on toast for lunch before moving on, finally, to my articles. F drags the Time Machine into the kitchen and writhes around on the tiles as I slice cheese and light the grill.

'I'm visiting other lands,' F informs me. It seems that the Time Machine is a cross between an invention in the latest Captain Underpants and the Magic Faraway Tree. 'I'm going to the land of wishes. What do you wnat me to get for you?'

I pause as I cover every white space of bread with cheese, right up to the corners. I think carefully.

'I would like some time. Can I have a week's worth of time between today and tomorrow?'


He lies back on the tiles, rolls on his side and wriggles backward into the box. He rolls over agin, the box covering his head, feet and arms. Only his bum, clad in shiny red boxer shorts, is visible from above. He talks to himself. He emerges triumphantly from the box. I come to meet him. He puts his hand into mine.

'There you go,' he says. 'I got it for you.'

'Thanks.' I kiss his cheek.

It was a nice thought.


audrey said...

That's adorable. I'm determined to have a child with imagination. What would you do if they were completely boring? You'd have to send them away or kill them I think.

I always loved the Calvin and Hobbes strips where he makes time machines and transmogrifiers and duplicators out of old cardboard boxes. Calvin - now there's a kid I'd like to call my own.

Ariel said...

I so agree! (Of course, I suppose ...)

Come to think of it, F IS a little Calvin-ish. He does have an imaginary friend, but he's not a tiger. He's an eight-year-old scientist named Dexter. He has an evil twin named Bexter.

redcap said...

Aww, that's lovely. A time machine and a pirate ship! I'm so glad children still have lovey imaginations. Not one of my nieces or nephews does such things.

redcap said...

By the way, how are you getting along with The Road? The reviews have made me a little apprehensive. It sounds heart-breaking.

Ariel said...

It's brilliant, but yes, utterly heartbreaking. One of the most disturbing books I have ever read. The writing is absolutely wonderful, the imagery spot-on and the atmosphere of dread and despair gripping. The bright spot, the small hope for humanity perhaps, is the poignant relationship between the father and son, who are literally everything to each other. Also the fact that they keep going, despite overwhelming evidence that there is nothing to live for. And while the father is (for good reason) a hardened cynic, the son is a humanist, always looking for the good in people - even though he was born into this post-apocalyptic nightmare. The book did give me nightmares. But it was worth it. My advice is: read it, but make sure you're not feeling too fragile at the time ...

redcap said...

Hmm, best buy a copy now and wait six months to read it then! ;)

Genevieve said...

Ahhh, seven. Boxes. Feeling lucky. I remember. Thank you.