The best way to distract yourself from your own drama is to focus on other people’s drama. And what causes more drama in our lives than love? And what is the most dramatic factor in love? Exes.
Yep, those boyfriends, girlfriends, baby’s daddies and mama clones that once were are a source of both entertainment and detachment from your own troubles that entire subgenres of romance fiction have be created around them. They are the ghosts that can rise and haunt you, pointing out all the mistakes and missteps you have taken or pushing you toward the most dangerous area of drama, “What if?” Of course if you are not in a romance tale, there’s a good chance an ex may end up murdering you or vice versa. Cue maniacal laughter here.
I bring this up because Seth the Snakehunter came in today with his son, Forrest. After Ava’s funeral, Seth was granted guardianship of Forrest and the two of them have rarely been seen around town. Which makes sense because I imagine the last thing you want to remind a child of is his deceased parent. I do not know how the two of them were handling the loss.
As they came in, Betty was showing me her newest knitting creation. She was experimenting in yarn-bombing, the practice of vandalism where one creates a cover for random items. Betty’s idea was to give the WWII statue in the middle of town a hat. I was attempting to swing her around to the Jayne hat from Firefly so I could steal it later. She was thinking something more of a ski mask for some symbolic reason I do not wish to go into. She stopped clicking the needles together when the child ran past us and to the play area.
Seth walked over to us. I shook his hand.
“How are you two doing?” I asked.
Seth shrugged, “He asks about her. I tried to explain it, but it just came out wrong when I did. He just knows she’s gone.”
I nodded. Betty walked around the desk and gave Seth a hug. As motherly a motion as it was, I tried to remember if Betty and Seth had ever met. Of course, I am not always at the library and the town is small so just because I did not see it does not make it so.
I walked around the desk and went to the children’s desk where Forrest was. He was sitting and looking at a picture book that was open on the floor. Tucked under one arm was a stuffed monkey.
“Hey, bud,” I said, “Is that your monkey?”
Forrest looked up to me. Then he pulled out the toy as if it was the first time he had seen it.
“Monkey George,” he said.
I sat in front of him cross legged. Scattered around were building blocks left over from afternoon storytime confusion. I absently started sticking them together.
“How’s Monkey George doing?” I asked.
Forrest kept looking at the stuffed animal, a roll of baby fat puffing out on his forehead as he concentrated.. He seemed to be trying to read the creature’s mind.
“Monkey George wants to go away,” he said.
“Go away? But he’s okay here. It’s just the library, bud,” I said, “Can you tell Monkey George there’s nothing to be afraid of at the library?”
“He can hear you,” Forrest said, “And he’s not afraid.”
I laughed a little, “My mistake. Monkey George, what’s the matter with the library?”
“He can hear you but he can’t talk,” Forrest said, “He’s a monkey.”
“Can you understand him?” I asked.
Forrest nodded. Somewhere upstairs someone caused a book to fall on the shelf with a metal clang. Forrest’s head jerked around looking for the source of the noise and his little arms clutched the monkey tighter.
“It’s okay,” I said, “Somebody just dropped a book. It happens.”
“It happens,” he said.
Seth walked over to us, “Hey, little bit. You find a book?”
Forrest nodded to his father and pointed at the picture book. His attention went away from me and back to the book where a man in a bright yellow jumpsuit was talking to a little monkey. I stood up.
“How are you doing, Seth?” I asked.
Seth motioned me away from the kid. We walked about ten feet away.
“Honestly, I don’t know how to feel. All I wanted was to see Forrest more, but now... It’s almost like that monkey’s paw story. Where you wish for something but somebody has to die for you to get it?”
“Be careful what you wish for?” I asked.
“I guess. Yeah. Except I don’t have anymore wishes to undo the story.”
I nodded, “I know a lot of people have told you this, but if you ever need anything...”
“Thanks, but I think we’ll be fine. I just hope he can get over it. I keep thinking about how much I remember when I was his age, you know? Like, will he even remember her? He wakes up in the night calling for her, but during the day... I dunno, man.”
“It’ll take time. If he has questions, you know, tell him the best you can about his mom and go from there.”
“Heh, yeah. ‘Sure, son, let me tell you about your mother. She was gorgeous and pitiless. They say I could handle snakes but that one ate me up and spit me out and used you to do it.’ That’ll be a great conversation.”
I think my jaw must have dropped a little. Seth saw and attempted to recover.
“I mean, of course I’ll tell him only good things. I was just venting a little. Sorry?”
He held out his hand. I took it and clapped him on the back as I walked away, also raising one hand to Forrest. Forrest was concentrating on the book and did not wave back.
Betty put her needles down and looked at me with her head tilted to the right.
I leaned over the desk, “Is it strange that almost no one has a thing nice to say about Ava? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Honor the dead and all?”
Betty just smiled and went back to her knitting. I walked around and back into the circulation work area and began sorting a cart to be shelved. I needed to put a little order into the chaos.
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