Where’s Mine

By Rita Button

Caren, her brothers, and her mom happily welcomed their father and husband back into the family fold. Their father had talked vaguely of rudimentary equipment being gathered in order to deal with possible disastrous events such as keeping a big house warm in case of a power outage. Fireplaces might have to be used again; unfortunately, only two rooms in that big house still had working word-burning fireplaces.

Later, that evening, Caren had a few questions for her mother about the questionable generosity of her father.

“Why can’t I have some of the jewelry?” demanded Caren, as she watched her brothers fastening their long-sleeved French cuffed shirts with exquisite cuff links.

“Quiet, Caren,” remonstrated her mother. “I know you don’t think it’s fair that dad came home with gifts for only a few of us, but just you wait; your turn will come. Remember, the savings account is only so big, and he wants to take care of the most important needs first.”

“Do you really mean needs? I have needed a notebook for a long time, but he always tells me to wait, that my turn will come. When? I’m getting tired of writing on the back sides of his printed notes.”

“Well, you know that I would get you one right away if only I had the money. But it’s hard to get by these days when people seem to think that in the impending emergency, all those who don’t have ironed clothes will be cast aside.”

“What do you mean, ‘cast aside’? Is that why dad got you an iron, an iron that wasn’t even made in our country?”

“Well, yes, and I’m happy to get it. I admit; it doesn’t make me look as elegant as the cuff links or the watch your dad wears, but there will come a time when we’ll look good because of the iron. When the disaster occurs, and people have no way of getting rid of the creases in their clothes, you and I will look great. I promise you that we will iron our own clothes first, and that maybe if things work out, we could get some of that jewelry as a reward. After all, cuff links on an unironed shirt, just make the shirt look worse! Also, because of the creases, those wearing unironed clothes won’t be allowed to enter certain important buildings.”

“What do you mean by ‘important buildings’?”

“Oh, you know, banks and law offices and government buildings—places that demand respect.”

“Who will not let them come in?”

“Maybe a guard or sergeant of some sort, someone whose clothes are always impeccably pressed.”

“Do they have irons too? Do irons belong only to people who work in important buildings? And that makes me wonder: Is the iron ours? What about the ironing board? How did we get that when we can’t even afford a notebook?”

“Good thinking! I doubt that the iron and the ironing board actually belong to us. I think they belong to dad’s work, but we’ll get to use them for awhile, at least until someone realizes that they don’t actually belong to us. They might have a hard time finding a place to store them at work, so we’ll just keep them here in the closet while they’re looking for a spot. In the meantime, we can practise to make sure our ironing is perfect.”

“Well, what about taking something that doesn’t belong to us? Isn’t that stealing? Remember the time you caught me with the candy I had taken from the teacher’s desk and you made me return it? Isn’t this the same?”

“Sort of, but if the person doesn’t even know the iron was his, how can he say that we have stolen it?”

“Shouldn’t we tell him? Won’t he notice that someone has paid for it with his money?”

“I’ve heard that he doesn’t check the accounts carefully. In fact, if the reports are to be believed, the account books seem to be unreadable or indecipherable.”

“What does that mean? Isn’t it just numbers? What is indecipherable?”

“It’s the idea of understanding or deciphering where the money came from and the reason it was used along with ensuring there’s enough money in the account to pay the bill.”

“What if there’s not?”

“Don’t you worry; Dad always seems to find a way.”

“Oh, do you mean the way those two people were marched out of the building without even knowing what they’d done wrong?”

“Well, I don’t know for sure if it’s exactly the same, but I agree; it’s always important to let people know why they’re being required to do certain things—in public or in private.”

“Oh, like when you told my brother to give his lunch to the kid who was on our step, and you didn’t tell him why?”

“Yes. That did upset your brother, but I didn’t want to upset the person who was hungry. And I did explain it to your brother later. I also gave him some lunch.”

“So if those two had been told the reasons, it would have been okay?”

“It’s a little bit complicated, but, yes, knowing the reason would be better than not knowing.”

“Oh, okay. Is it all right if Margaret comes over so that we can do our homework together?”

JBNA: Climate Change

JBNA: Climate Change

Poem: Companion of the Silence