I am doing most of the driving. He is a little shakier than he was when I was a boy. His confidence is still there but his dexterity has waned, his mobility, especially his ability to turn his neck sufficiently to be fully aware of the world outside the vehicle, impaired, as if he was wearing a neck brace.
He can’t admit the loss. Nor could I, I suppose. He’s never liked to be driven. “Always been in the driver’s seat,” he has said a thousand times.
At least a thousand times.
Being chauffeured rips him up.
“Could do with some coffee,” he says with just a trace of guile.
I know he wants to stop, to manufacture the conditions whereby he might be able to get behind the wheel.
We are just beginning the long slog beyond Golden. The Kicking Horse still awaits. I am not in the mood to stop.
“Are we there?” he asks, quite out of the blue.
“Not yet, dad. We’ll stop in Field.” I’ve always meant to stop in Field, anytime I was zooming along on my way to Calgary but never actually have.
“Fields,” he says, almost sweetly.
“I remember the wheat fields,” he says with such a languorous tone. Even when he had been more lucid, back when I was in my teens and still paying some attention to his stories, the tragedy of the drought and the years of crop failures had often overwhelmed him, brought him to tears.
“You do?” I say, getting on board wherever it is he is taking me.
“Dust. It was all dust. We thought we had good irrigation, good water but…”
He drifts off. I silently debate stopping for the coffee he would enjoy. My inclination, selfish, practical, is to push on through. We have a whole family reunion to survive. Once we are there I suspect he will sink more deeply into the past.
He seems happy enough there, in those dry dusty fields of his youth.
The above is my rendition, my response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction challenge #7: Wheatfield. There were two visual prompts, a Van Gogh Wheat Field and photo of a flourishing wheat field. My little chunk of storytelling may not have done either justice. On another note, you might think the title, Time Wrap, a typo. Did I intend it to be Time Warp? Possibly, but I went with Time Wrap.