Friday, September 21, 2007

[Fiction Friday

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for September, 21 2007:

Pick an unusual phobia and explain why a character has it.

" I told you I am afraid of nothing, No Thing! Got it?" Brian realized that he may have been shouting into the phone so he lowered his voice and with the most menacing tone he could muster, he added; " Least of all you. You call me chicken one more time and I'm coming over there to make you my own personal punching bag! I'm telling you, for the last time, that I am not going on the trip because of family obligations." he slammed the reciever down so hard that the address book fell to the floor.

"What's that all about?" came a voice from a large overstuffed armchair by the bay window. The chair had it's back facing him so he was unable to see the tiny woman sitting by the window.

"Is that you Gran? he said sheepishly, I'm sorry if I disturbed you.

"You didn't disturb me. I'm just sitting here watching the world go by. Come here and sit with me for a moment, we have to have a talk." Brian reluctantly shuffled over and sat down in a green wing-backed chair across from his grandmother. "Who are you talking to like some ruffian?" she demanded, "I sure hope that you are not turning out to be some bully."

"No Gran it was my friend Tyler, he was calling me a Chicken because I'm not going on the school ski trip this saturday."

"Why aren't you going?" she inquired, "What family obligation are you talking about? I'm not forgetting anyones birthday, am I?"

"No Gran I just told him that because he wouldn't take no for an answer. Besides he called me chicken. No one calls me chicken." His voice tapered off and he looked forlornly out the window.

"Beans, what's the matter?" Brian smiled at his Gran calling him beans. It was his family nickname that he had aquired as a young boy, who whenever anyone asked what he wanted to eat. He would reply "Beans on Toast!" "Beans why don't you want to go on this trip? You love snowboarding. You practically live at Potter's Hill snowboarding with your friends, besides you told me that it was your favorite sport."

"No reason Gran, I just don't feel like going." He mumbled into a pillow that he was clutching to his chest.

"Grandson, Don't try to kid a kidder, I'm too long in the tooth to fall for that lame excuse. Fess up. It won't go any farther then right here," she said.

Brian looked into her still bright eyes and knew that what she said was true. She would keep his secret. " The ski trip is to Mt. Aggasiz. All the ski trails have to reached by the use of a ski lift." Just the thought of sitting swinging in that chair was enough make his stomach churn.

"Cool, sounds like fun. What's the problem?" she inquired.

"Gran I can't go on a ski lift. I can't even go on a Ferris Wheel at the exhibition. Remember that time we went to Vancouver and the whole family walked accross that suspension bridge and I stayed behind with you because I wasn't feeling well? I wasn't sick, I was scared to death."

" When did all this happen? When did you start being afraid of heights?"

"I think that I have always been that way, I can't remember not ever being afraid." he said

"No! No, that's not true. When you were younger you used to cause your mother fits because you were always climbing trees and hanging upside down. When she took you to the park you used to swing so high she was afraid that you would go over the bar. You weren't always afraid of heights." His Grandmother paused for a minute and said; "Do you remember breaking your arm when you were nine years old? You broke it so bad that only the skin and two tendons held your arm in place. Your father had to cup your little hand in his to remove the pressure for over a hour in the emergency room."

Brian remembered his broken arm but nothing about the hospital partly because he passed out in the chair beside his father.

"Do you remember how it happened?" she continued her questions.

"Vaguely" he replied, getting a little irritated because he could not see where this was leading, so he began to fidgit and become impatient with his Gran.

"You were standing on a grown ups shoulders trying to retrieve your kite from a tree. The man had a hold of your ankles and you were holding on to a tree branch, stretching up towards your kite when the branch broke and you lost your balence and fell to the sidewalk. Do you remember that?" she asked.

"Well not exactly." He responded giving her a funny look not knowing wether to believe her or not.

"Beans I don't think that you are afraid of heights. I think you are afraid of falling."
"Same thing Gran! It's the same thing." he retorted.
"No it's not! There's a big difference. because once you realize that the odds of you fallin from a lift chair or a ferris wheel seat are about the same as winning the lottery and knowing that it's safe, you can with practice and with repition, you can conquer your fear."

"Easy for you to say Gran. You don't have my problem." He was beginning to regret telling her because he was not in the mood for a lecture on positive thinking.

"My Dear Child, I am 75 years old and you have no idea how much I have missed in this life by being too cautious, too responsible, too conservative or too afraid to take a chance. I have come to the realization late in life that life is created with every breath, with every heartbeat, with every thought, it unfolds before you. Life is meant to be lived not observed. Life is a dance and we should not sit on the sidelines watching other people dance it for us. If I was your age there are three things that I would do before I got to old to do them. One is that I would learn to ski so that I could go to the top of a mountain and be the first to ski through fresh powdered snow. I would plow through snow up past my knees and feel it's cold refreshing spray against my cheeks. I would learn how to surf so I could ride the crest of a wave on it's course towards the shore, and swoop down to ride underneath it's curl. I would learn how to sail so I could ride the wind across the surface of the water and feel the salt sea spray on my lips and face. To do any of these things would be like riding on the edge of creation, watching the Universe unfold before me. Of course it's doing that now as we sit in these chairs but we don't feel it like we would if we put our faces in the wind. Do you think that's why dogs stick their heads out of car windows?" she sighed and closed her eyes.

" What do you think I should do Gran, do you think that I should go on this ski trip?" He asked.

"That's entirely up to you Beans. You have to decide wether or not you are tired of being afraid and little by little it will become easier, but in the meantime are there any of your snowboarding friends that you would trust with this secret?" she asked.

Brian ran through the list knowing that everyone of them would love to find a chink in his armor. He has a tendancy to brag and over sell his athletic abilities, so it would be hard to find someone that wouldn't hold this over his head.

"Someone you don't hang around with perhaps?" she added.

Sometimes Brian feels that his Gran is part witch because she has the uncanny knack of getting inside his head and turning on a light. "There's Sophie, but she's a girl," he added.

"Can she snowboard?" came the reply.

" yeah, she can board better then most of my friends. She's a demon on the hill actually," he chuckled.

"OK, she's the one then, phone her and ask her if she will ride with you when you take the lift. You need someone you can trust not to rock the seat because, don't lie to her now, you had a bad experience when you were younger and are not comfortable taking the ski lift. Now go and phone her and let me know what she says."

About twenty minutes later Brian burst into the room. "Gran, Gran, you'll never guess what happened. It turns out that she was contemplating not going for the same reason. Can you believe that? He said; "She said that she would love to ride the lift with me."

"Way to go Sophie!" she yelled and clapped her hands,"Now go phone Tyler and tell him last one down the hill buys lunch, and Beans I want you to do me a favor." she whispered.

"Anything Gran Anything at all. Your the greatest." He smiled and winked at her.

Someday when you are carving through fresh powder or riding the crest of a really big wave, think of me, for if the Universe is willing I will be riding on top of your shoulders or if you are sailing a skiff on some distant sea, I will be seated at the prow with my feet in the water and my face in the wind."


paisley September 21, 2007 at 5:59 AM  

this was so touching it nearly has me in tears.. what sweet release to find you are not alone... and gran was such a darling....

Paul September 21, 2007 at 6:09 AM  

I love Gran's advice - reminds me of the joke "It's not falling that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end!"

Jo September 21, 2007 at 7:10 AM  

I too love Gran's a cautious person I would do well to take her statistics to heart. Great.

Josie Two Shoes September 21, 2007 at 10:43 AM  

Beautiful! I wish more of us would have had someone like Gran in our lives when we were young! The advice holds true!

tumblewords September 21, 2007 at 11:37 PM  

Sweet story and realistic dialogue!

Jodi Cleghorn September 24, 2007 at 6:15 AM  

Beautiful depth and characterisation. I've always been afraid of heights .. but now I wonder if it is actually a fear of falling? I swear I fell down steps and died in a previous life?