Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Shangri-La

By
More by this author
On a snowy night during the rioting and unsettling times of the Vietnam War, a woman shifts in her bed as she tries to fall asleep. Evers since her husband left for the war, she was left to raise their son. Her reclusiveness and determination created for herself a solitude in which no one could relate. Her mind and body became solely focused on creating the image she had always longed for. Shutting herself in the house, her only plans included keeping the house religiously clean and making dinner every night for her son. Not one to socialize, she became known as the Wife.

The Wife shifts again, not able to rest her mind and settle her thoughts. That strong, familiar smell taunts her and calls for her. Darkness mocks her eyelids, taunting the submissive depths she has been reduced to. Silence rings in her ears, so loudly she begins tapping her fingers on the bed frame to create a sturdy heart beat, a sturdy sound, something tangible. Hard wood, hard wood, on her fingers, tap tap tap in her ears. Tap, Tap, knock knock.
She turns on the harsh light and opens the door in expectance of some figment of annoyance that will catch her and hold her without her consent. Instead, it is the face of the man she has not seen in a while. She stares for moment at the faces she has seen only in her memories that were starting to fade. But, in the dim light, she can make out the soft panes of his face that seemed unmarred by the past. She quickly embraces him and feels his warmth that seeps into her and elates her entire being until her soul sighs in contentment. She shows him their son sleeping, she doesn't want to wake him up; he looks so serene in his innocent expression marked by a slight frown as he sleeps. They walk together to the couch, The Wife and her husband.
Questions being held back. Death and war are things that the Wife's mind cannot grasp. She talks of pleasantries. She just bought a new sink faucet. His face lights up as he hears all the trivial consequences of her life. She just bought a new coffeemaker. She helped to find a lost dog. At some point, during their long talk, her mind drifts and becomes unfocused as her husband gets up to get a glass of water. She never hears him come back as she sinks further and further into unconsciousness. The night grows into her mind, a sort of peaceful melancholy as her body becomes aware and feels heavy on the couch. Sinking into oblivion, she stares at the ceiling, barely visible in the first light of dawn. A quiet, almost inaudible sound reaches her ears, telling whispers of hope and safety as a car engine comes closer and closer to the house. Her husband is coming back. But he was already back. He must have left during the night. An apprehensive knock meets the perfectly red-painted door. The knocking is too loud. The room is filled with too-bright sunlight. The Wife remains on the couch as she hears her son waking up and walking to the front door. The front door opens as she waits for her husband to walk through the door and greet her and their son. Her son walks outside and comes in a minute later with the newspaper.

'Who was at the door? Was it your father? You know, he came to see you last night. But you were sleeping and I didn't want to wake you,' The Wife said.

'Yeah, mom, he comes to see me every night.'
He places the newspaper next to the table. The letter has sat on the table for months now. The Wife doesn't notice it. She cleans around it when she polishes the table. It must not be opened. It must not be seen. It must not be looked at. It must not be thought of. It is a bank statement. It is a drawing her son made. It is an old Christmas card. It is junk mail.

'He'll be back any minute, why don't you pour you father a nice glass of milk, so he'll have something nice to come home to. And put a smile on your face, nobody likes a frown.'

He smiles and pours his mom a glass of water and some aspirin.

'I'll be sure to wake you when your father comes home tonight so you can say hi.'

'Sure, mom. I'll see him tonight.' He says with a constricted smile.

'Good, honey. See? A happy family equals a happy home.'





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback