Back to be­ing 12 again

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Short Story Section - By Matthew Licht

BOBBY Os­good woke up one Oc­to­ber morn­ing and he was twelve years old again. ‘This is crazy,’ he thought, upon find­ing him­self back in his kid-size bed, in the lit­tle white house where he’d grown up. ‘I’m 32. I live in New York. I work in a bank.’

He didn’t have much time to pon­der this ab­surd sit­u­a­tion. His mother yelled from the kitchen down­stairs that break­fast was ready and if he didn’t shake a leg he was go­ing to be late for school and he had a big maths test to­day, remember?

‘Ah, so that’s it’, Bobby thought, and closed his eyes once more. ‘This is one of those anx­i­ety night­mares, caused by stress, which I am of­ten un­der, at my job. In this bad dream, I’ll be back at my old school. I will have to take a test, and of course I won’t know any of the an­swers. Also, I will have for­got­ten to wear pants.’

Yikes.

‘But then I’ll wake up and it will all have been merely a dream.’ He pulled the Cow­boys n’ In­di­ans blan­ket over his head and waited for re­al­ity to re­sume con­trol of the air­waves.

The half-naked test night­mare had never in­cluded Bobby’s mother Doris com­ing up­stairs and pulling off the cov­ers, fall­ing on the bed and hold­ing him down and tick­ling him all over un­til he was to­tally wideawake and laugh­ing like a clown.

‘Mom!’ Bobby looked at her. She was smil­ing bright, gig­gling like a girl. She looked young again, and so pretty. ‘I never no­ticed how pretty Mom was,’ Bobby thought. So he did some­thing he hadn’t done too ter­ri­bly of­ten when he re­ally was a kid. He put his arms around his mother’s neck, planted a kiss on her cheek, and told her she was beau­ti­ful.

She hugged him back as though she never wanted to let go. Bobby sort of never wanted her to, ei­ther.

‘What’s got­ten into you to­day, mis­ter? You aren’t try­ing to sweet­stuff your way out of go­ing to school, are you? ‘Cause it ain’t go­ing to work.’

‘No, Mom. It’s just...’

‘Get dressed, then. Put on your blue shirt. I ironed it for you. And speak­ing of irons, I’ve got waf­fles ready down­stairs.’

Was she go­ing to watch him get dressed? Bobby re­mem­bered she used to do that, some­times. How em­bar­rass­ing. ‘Uh...Mom, do you mind?’

‘All right, Mr. Grown-up. Bet­ter hurry, though.’

He went down­stairs for the best waf­fles in the world. Bobby’s mother Doris told him to eat a ba­nana, too. Brain-fuel for the maths test. So Bobby ate waf­fles and sliced ba­nana with but­ter and maple syrup.

‘Thanks Mama, that was de­li­cious. You were...I mean, you are the best cook ever. And so gor­geous, on top of it.’ He couldn’t help re­peat­ing that she was beau­ti­ful again, be­cause it was true, she was.

‘Flat­tery won’t get you out of no exam, buster. But it’s sweet of you to say so. You sure you’re feel­ing OK?’

Bobby Os­good said I love you Mom and kissed her again be­fore he went out­side to wait for the school bus. He hadn’t kissed his mother much back when he was a kid, he re­mem­bered. Not nearly enough, any­way. Mama Doris shot him a puz­zled look, blew him a kiss and waved when he boarded the bus. Bobby felt like cry­ing as he watched her go back in the house.

Of course, he couldn’t start boo-hoo-hoo­ing on the bus. Not in front of ev­ery­body. There was Mrs. Thomp­son, the bus driver.

‘Good morn­ing, Mrs. Thomp­son. Thanks for pick­ing me up.’

Mrs. Thomp­son shot him a funny look. It oc­curred to Bobby that he’d never thanked her for bring­ing him to school all those years, even though she was a safe driver, al­ways on time, and not un­friendly. Isn’t that why peo­ple say thank you?

Mrs. Thomp­son smiled. ‘Hey, thank you, Bobby. You’re a good kid. Now go sit down!’

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