Sitting in the car, overlooking farmlands, the child moans, "Are we there yet?"
"Not yet, be patient! Three more giant steps today, two more sleeps." This was the only way she knew to explain it. There were 5 giant steps in their trip the first day. They began the trip the day before, hoping to take it easy, enjoying the sights and sounds of the country. It is a concept difficult for adults to master: time and distance. Living in Toronto, they preferred not to stop in the big cities. The small towns were the ones where they could stop, park, and give him a bit of a run.
They were on their way to their vacation in the Maritimes. Gineen, whose family was from Halifax, hadn't been home since she'd escaped her home. Andrew was the one who broke her free from the small town minds. The gossips, the redneck ways of her neighbours, made her skin crawl. It rankled her that in this day and age a mixed marriage was a shock. It shouldn’t have been. Yet, in her small town, the menial jobs were held by people of colour. Pockets of racism existed even in a country that patted itself on the back for being the multi-cultural Peacekeepers of the world. The schools were judged by the socioeconomics of the area. She loved Toronto, where rainbow faces decorated the streets. Where food, sounds, smells, and faces celebrated the one humanity.
"Andrew, slow down! You're tailing the guy in front."
"Take it easy, woman! Don't take it out on me!"
Anxiously, she wrapped her coat more tightly around her. For a spring day, it was chilly. Frost had appeared overnight in a season that promised to be early. The creeks, normally full at this time of year, were sadly as low as her spirits. This would be trouble for farmers, families, and tourists, alike. Wildlife hungry for food, tourists hungry for entertainment, the foxes and coyotes, finding their territory invaded by two-legged pests, were learning to adapt. Snow remained in pockets here and there, but not enough to raise the water table. The melting snow gone from the sides of the road, but there were places where the sun did not shine. Her happiness, as dim as her prospects, had shone like the early rising sun when she first met Andrew.
In the skies, raucous ravens were harassing another pair. The tree tops sang with their loud cries. Flying in circles, circling like hawks, the raven’s rebuttles reflected the anxiety of the season. That desperate instinct to reproduce dominated their condition. Their loud 'CAWs' echoed on the forest edge, as they flew above, shrieking at the attackers, flying around and overtop one another. They mate for life. Destined to spend their lives together, they stand up for each other. They know their place. They battle the enemy together, putting the newest pair out of their territory. We all need a space of our own; we all need someone to cover our backs.
Their cries weighed heavily on the woman's heart. Shrieking at her husband had been their main means of communication lately. Mating for life was a dismal prospect. She was 19, desperate, married the first man she dated. Her ticket out of a small, dead-end town, was a man cruising through on business. The fruit of her union, the sweetest little boy ever.
Gazing longingly over the land, laid bare by early settlers, the dormant fields embraced her. It was Andrew's idea, to take the child home to grandparents. Of course, they talked on the phone, they'd Skyped their way from his infancy to his youth: fun times watching his growth, her parents had lauded his spunk. A gregarious child, he loved to ‘Kype with Gamma. He had shown off his language skills, new words, and vocabulary, words that never included racist talk, or hostile accusations of abandonment.
Aligning paper to computer screen, he would show off his scribbled drawings, from random mandalas, he could now draw arms and legs on his figures. He had demanded a visit to these distant grandparents. Hard convincing a child that the computer screen bridged a distance of several provinces.
Andrew was a good man. A software engineer, he knew the ins and outs of his world. He often travelled, and was highly sought by several companies, hoping to protect themselves from hackers and spammers. His brief stint in Halifax had led him to her. Her knight in shining armour, he would save her from a life of morbid navel-gazing. She’d gone with him to Toronto, finishing her education while pregnant. Determined not to fall into the cycle of ignorance and poverty, she was determined to get a degree.