The following story was one of four entries to the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop recent Postcard Story Contest chosen for publication in the September edition of NOWW Magazine. The premise was to create a story, in less than 500 words, based upon a photo of a bicycle leaning against a shed.
(c) Mark Munger 2010
Davey left Canada in March of 2005. He’s my son. My only son. Properly, I should say he’s my husband Gregory’s son as well. But Davey is, in so many ways, really only mine. When Gregory slunk off, Davey was only six; six, goddamn it! That asshole left us, me and three little kids, behind in Thunder Bay. Davey grew up spontaneously. Had to. Had to grow up fast when Gregory ran away with a leggy student from a science class he taught at Lakehead. Chemistry was her major. Gregory and I had that once: chemistry, I mean. Then the twins, Greta and Amy, came. I didn’t lose the weight from that pregnancy fast enough to suit Gregory so he latched onto the first little co-ed who smiled at him. And then he left. Just like Davey eventually would.
Gregory moved to Winnipeg. He accepted another professorship at another university. The bitch went with him as his second wife. It was tough on Davey. He was old enough to comprehend loss. I tried not to dwell on the fact that we’d been rejected. I tried not to lean on Davey in my despair. He was so young and all. I tried to fill in the void, that deep hole that’s left when there’s no father to teach a boy how to fish, how to skate, how to ride a bike.
The bike: Not Davey’s first, but his last, rests against the garden shed out back of our house. I keep it out of sentiment, out of hope that someday my son, who wandered off to Shilo to join the Army-the 1st Horse Artillery-in that unplanned, drifting way that young men take up their life journeys at eighteen, will exit a taxi on Gertrude Street, walk up the front sidewalk, and throw his arms around my neck. The Army says that’s impossible, that remnants of Davey were found scattered over the Afghani highway leading from Kandahar. I don’t believe the Army. My son is coming home.