I was somewhere in a dream thinking, I must remember this. I’ve had this one before. I carefully noted it in my mind so that I could write it down later and ponder the meaning of it when I was awake and thinking clearly. Above me, I could hear Ron’s footsteps as he padded lightly about the upstairs bathroom, then went into the kitchen.

It’s funny, but I can tell Otto’s, Hugh’s and Ron’s steps just by the sound of them. Otto has a heavy middle aged business man ‘s tread, slow and determined. Hugh’s steps are quick and heavy. He paces. Ron is the tallest of the three and has a light, athletic step. He’s on the move.

I heard the fridge door open with a vacuumy clumph and closed again. I sat up in bed, reached for my glasses without which I can see nothing, looked at the red letters on the alarm clock. Six twenty one. Too early to get up. It wasn’t that I wasn’t waking up well, but I groggily counted on my fingers, two to three, four, five, six, and concluded that four hours and twenty minutes was not long enough of a sleep to sustain one through a day.

Ron had come in at midnight. We talked a while about his day and he was for once rather happy about it. He’d stayed up to watch the end of Deja Vu with Denzel Washington. He ate a bowl of left over pasta, and then what, I don’t really know. I do know that at two, when I was finally chastising myself for staying up so late and dozing after every three words on the page of the novel I was reading, I closed off my light and settled in; but I could still hear Ron moving about upstairs.

Now, four hours of sleep for me is not critical at this point. I can go back to bed, put my pillow over my head to block out the light, and sleep for another few hours. But I reflected that Ron was running himself into the ground with his ten hour a day job in masonry construction work and with his busy social life entwined around his girlfriend whom he’d separated from but not really, and whom was giving him a merry chase.

Four hours was not enough for him; and he was running a cough and cold that would not go away; would never get rid of it if he didn’t get more sleep.

I bestirred myself. The alarm was set for not much later than seven – less than an hour away – and it was set just for me to get the recycling box and the automated yard waste and garbage bins out to the lane-side.

Ron is never good in the morning with conversational niceties.

“Good morning, dear!” I say, relatively cheerily.

“Mmm. Mornin'”

He grumbles under his breath as if he’s the one who has just awoken. I know for sure he’s already had his shower and he’s right ready to go out the door.

“Running late?” I’d thought he said last night that he had to be on his way by six.

“Nope. ‘sOK ”

He gathers his coffee in one hand, poured into last night’s Tim Horton cup.I look at this and think “Why?” There are lots of great coffee travel mugs in the house. Why would he use an already used paper cup from the day before to transport his morning coffee.” He grabs his grey, masonry dust covered hoodie under his arm.

“Well…. See ya” he says as he barrels by me, seemingly taking the ten steps down to the backyard in a three giant leaps, although he must have done them one by one when I think about it practically. You don’t want to be in his way when he’s in a hurry. At twenty-three, with his six foot four frame, though he’s light on his feet, he has a bulk and presence that you don’t mess with. I smile as I think back to timid, bullied Ron at thirteen. It’s good to see him full of his own purpose and his new gruff exterior bristling with male importance.

I think back to his graduation where he looked so beaten as he walked across the stage. He had no plans with the other students for aftergrad. He was only going through the motions at his mother and his gran’s insistance. He did so only with great reluctance. He hadn’t gotten all his courses for really graduating, so he new it was a farce. There was no diploma in the green leatherette folder for him . He loped his great height across the platform with his chin trying to sink itself into his Adam’s apple.

He’d talked about going over to Stanley’s house to have a pizza afterwards. I looked for Stanley as the students were going across, one by one, grinning, goofing off, lifting their hands in the air as if they had just won a World Championship in boxing, or making grimaces that had the student audience hooting, laughing and giggling for their favourites while their parents were probably crawling under their seats hoping nobody would make the connection between this extroverted goof and them; and the remaining audience was hoping their own teenager would walk across proudly, head high, dignified by their cap and gown hiding a formal suit and tie.

When it was Stanley’s turn to traverse the auditorium, I saw that he was more bent over than Ron, as if he were ashamed to be there, as if he were going to be beaten like a bad dog at the other end of the platform but the master had called and the dog had to obey and take his punishment. I said a silent “Oh no!”. Ron’s only friend appeared even more bullied and less socially ept and this was the young man he expected to “celebrate” graduation with.

When the ceremony was over, we waited while Ron tried to connect with his friend so that Ron could give us a contact address and a telephone number where he was. On a night like Grad Night, I wanted to know where my nephew would be if he was going to be out all night. But Ron came back to us looking chagrinned and somewhat relieved at the same time. Stanley’s parents had insisted that he go home alone. The parents had plans to visit with another family that had graduating youngsters, this night, and Stanley had to go with them. I was disappointed for Ron but quite relieved myself. Ron would be off the roads for this, one of the most dangerous nights in the police calendar, what with drinking, drugs and carousing.

True to form, five teens were killed that weekend on the Sea to Sky highway. “It’s their own fault,” said Ron self righteously without a trace of pity or regret.”They shouldn’t have been drinking and driving.”

Ron had come a long way in the four intervening years. Now he was confident. He walked with purpose and a bounce in his step. He could take on any man and hold their gaze without flinching. He’d grown up and it was a pleasure to see. He was a man now, with a man’s job that he did well, with a great work ethic.
And so, as he was passing me on the porch, barreling down the stairs, I mumbled under my breath You could have taken part of the recycling down to the back lane. You’re going there anyway, but I didn’t say it loud enough for him to hear. Instead, dressed in my night shirt, a pair of pull on exercise pants and a denim shirt to keep my arms warm, I struggled step by step with the newspaper waste blue bag and my arthritic knees, down the stairs then out to the lane; came back for the yellow bag of office paper and other waste; and came back again for the blue box of metals and plastics.

On the third trip, my brain clicked in that there were no other containers in the lane. It was Friday, wasn’t it?

“Oh no!” Last Monday was Victoria Day, May’s long weekend. That would push all the pick-up days one day forward. The Sanitation trucks wouldn’t come until Monday now. Arghhhh! That would teach me to wake up!
I picked up the yellow bag, left the bag of newspapers in the blue box and pushed the box with my feet, back into the yard, tucking it under the wisteria bush to protect it from any potential rain. No way I was going to take it all the way back up the stairs, I said to myself.

Back in the house, I thought about that recurring dream I’d had. It would be nice to just go back to bed and pull the covers over. Nice and toasty. I warmed up a coffee and sweetened it, looked around me and thought “I’ll just drink this nice hot beverage in bed with a word or two of the novel to put me back to sleep and take up with that dream again and see how it ends.”

It was about some absurdly connected action. I was doing something….. and then …. what was it? Was it something to do with Mom? Was she there on the edges of my consciousness? Was it money I was getting? Or a gift? Where was I? What was so incongruous about what I had been doing and the next event.
Try as I could, I couldn’t grasp the slightest detail of the dream I’d had whilst waking up. It was completely gone without a trace. I’d have to write it down next time. Just even a word or so. Just something to grab onto an interesting dream memory.

Well, I won’t be going back to bed…..

I’m wide awake now.


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