Michael wiped moisture from his forehead. He felt like a well-done sausage in today's heat.
Suddenly, Aunt Rose shouted a bucketful of questions. "Did you empty the garbage? What about the wood bin?
She looked him over and asked, "Are you daydreaming again, young man?"
Michael smiled. He knew auntie worried about everything. Ever since she and Uncle Mark began raising him and his two younger brothers, three years ago.
"Just thinking about all those trees," answered Michael.
"What do you want to be this time?" auntie asked.
"I wanna be a lumberjack," said Michael.
"Why?" his aunt muttered.
"So I can build a huge room for each of us," he answered. Michael swiped at his thick brown hair. His blue eyes were shining.
"Where do you get these ideas?" she grumbled. "And only eight years old!" She walked away shaking her shoulders.
Michael remained on the swing. "Maybe I should be a carpenter," he said out loud. "Then I could measure everything properly." But, only the red squirrel heard him.
"BREAKFAST!" came as a bolt of thunder from the house. The word rushed between two birch trees, across the yard into Michael's right ear.
He raced Ryan and Bryan to the house. They were seven and six. Three noisy boys wrestled for a chair in the kitchen. Feet thumped. Fists poked. And hands grabbed for cereal bowls.
"Stop it! shouted Aunt Rose. There was silence.
As the oldest, Michael's duty was to fill each bowl. His brothers performed their usual impatient banging of spoons on the table. After Michael finished, Aunt Rose said a prayer of thanks. "OK...now eat," was easily understood.
Cereal, toast and juice disappeared. The boys ate like little crocodiles. Then Bryan and Ryan raced outside for their bikes.
Michael walked slowly after them. "I wanna be a mechanic," he said. "To keep their bikes working okay." Only the dust from two bicycle back tires heard him.
Later in the afternoon, the family decided to go to the beach. Everyone walked single file down a gravel road, to the highway, then the ocean.
As Michael's feet disappeared under water, he watched his brothers yelling and splashing. An idea popped into his head.
"I wanna be a lifeguard," he said. "Then I could sit on a look-out spot. And be ready in case my brothers need help."
"Michael! Stop daydreaming!! Get in the water or we'll go home right now!" his aunt said rather noisily. He quickly joined his brothers, swimming and splashing.
Besides, Michael wanted everyone to be happy. The rest of the afternoon was filled with sun, water-wrestling and huge waves.
Sitting later on their swing, Michael knew he would have to change. After all, he was still a young kid. When his mother died three years ago it was very difficult.
Then his father had to go and live in the hospital for a while. "I have responsibilities," he told his teacher one day. And she answered, "Don't worry so much. Little boys like you are supposed to have fun."
Michael and his brothers were glad to have a place to live. At least until his daddy became well.
"I wanna be a doctor and work in the hospital," he announced to anyone listening. "And give each kid a teddy bear, and have lots of ice cream to eat."
Later in the evening his aunt came over to the swing and gave Michael a hug. The sky was painted red and yellow. Michael was tired after such a long day.
Supper was fish and chips. "YUMMY!" the boys yelled. It was a great treat after a hot day at the beach. Licking tongues and 'slurping' sounds made Aunt Rose happy.
Tonight, Ben was being a cranky seven-year old at the table.
Ryan was his usual tattletale self.
And Michael was lost in another daydream.
Uncle Mark relaxed on the sofa after the good meal.
Michael chewed on his lower lip. His imagination had helped him get through another day.
After bedtime stories, the boys scooted off to their bedroom. Since Michael was the oldest he did not have to share a room. His private space was beside the kitchen.
From his window, he watched a shooting star. It blinked, then 'KABOOMED' as it lit up the sky like a noiseless firecracker.
"I wanna be an astronaut," Michael said suddenly. "I wanna travel in a space ship like Captain Picard. And land on the stars."
Suddenly he felt lonesome. He needed to talk to someone. The family was probably asleep by now, he thought. Should he check and see? What to do?
Then, like a bolt of lightning, Michael made a decision. He put away his older boy imagination. He just wanted to think like a little boy again.
It must have been the 'KABOOM' in the sky that reminded him. Or when the stars blinked. He was sure they said, "Oh Michael, you have such big ideas. Don't forget, you're only eight years old."
Whatever it was, he began to giggle. Michael tried covering his mouth. But happy sounds kept coming out. Giggle, giggle and more giggles.
He decided to have some fun. And crawled along the floor to his brothers' room, dragging his pillow behind him.
"We hear you Michael," they said. "And our pillows are waiting."
When Michael stood up he saw it was true and rushed in, smacking both brothers across the chest. Now there was a room full of giggles.
After that fun battle, he decided to share his happiness with his aunt and uncle.
"What is it? What's wrong?" they asked in alarm, since they were now awake wondering about the commotion.
"I just want to say goodnight again," he said, jumping onto their bed. "And give you a big hug and a kiss!" Michael shouted with a really neat eight-year old smile.
And he did just that.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.