Maybe Next Year

Written with the prompts:  a former student, who is the dreamer and where is the dream, a quick call, a red balloon landed next to him, a river, lived a few doors down, man orchids, naked ladies, maybe next year, oddly familiar, deja vu, or am I?, pain lives in my pocket, Randall Tiller is his name, salted peanuts, tangy, the world ended and. . .

When I saw the new family that lives a few doors down, I was visited by a sense of deja vu.  The oldest boy looks just like a former student of mine.  Randall Tiller was his name.  He was far to the left on the autism spectrum, a sweet boy who couldn’t speak, but he could chant, couldn’t walk, but he could dance.

In those days when I was teaching, pain lived in my pocket buried deep beneath coins, Kleenex, and keys.  I focused on my work, never thought about my loss.  What’s done is done, we did what we could for her, I told my husband’s back as he retreated out the door.

This new Randall is a tall boy.  He’s not neuro-atypical—or is he?  He’s carrying a bouquet of amaryllis, aka naked ladies, floating high like red balloons.  I watch him out the window.  Now he’s got man orchids like paper dolls with monkey faces and human genitalia trailing below the purple blossoms.  His mother tells me he’s a botany student, a smart boy; he’ll transfer to UCD in the spring.  I think he’s in training to re-populate the Earth.

There are packets of peanuts in the waiting room, and the saltiness sparks a memory or two.  I am on a plane flying home, looking down at the patchwork quilt of farmland, our river curving from mountains to bay, blue in the sunshine, brown in the shade.  I know if the world ended, I’d be left with an oddly familiar tangy taste of river water on my lips.  But my phone is chiming, no time for even a quick call.  They are beckoning me back for the infusion.  

I remember him chanting, who is the dreamer/where is the dream?

        who is the dreamer/where is the dream?

Finally I am comfortable knowing there are things I will never know.  Well, not now.  But maybe next year.

Photo by Juliana Araujo on Unsplash

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