Lara likes to talk about the things she remembers. Often out of the blue for no good reason. Ainslee and her mom have their confused and frowning faces on as they sit and sip their coffee, but she is not deterred. Her memories of the day she’s thinking about are larger than life and perfectly vivid. She is staring out the kitchen window at the snow as she talks, so she doesn’t really notice when they start to look bemused.
“Remember when Ron and I went all by ourselves away across the fields by the riverbank to go tobogganing when we lived on that farm beside grandmas?” she asks her mom.
“You went by yourselves?” her mom says, but it’s more like she’s challenging that fact rather than trying to verify it.
“Well I don’t remember anybody being with us, or even close by. Ron had a new toboggan and we pulled it across the frozen river and up a steep bank. He’d find a good place to slide and I’d get on behind him. He told me there was no way I could be in front because I was too little to steer. It was SO much fun, climbing up, sliding down.”
“Lara, if it was at the old farm you and your brother would have been no more than four and seven, probably younger, and I would never have let you go to the river by yourselves. You must mean the creek beside the house.”
“Oh,” Lara concedes, still staring out into the snow. “Well anyway, Ron found a place with a really steep drop off and he set the toboggan at the top of it, he got on, I got on behind him and we were teetering on the very edge. Then he leaned forward and WHOOOSH!! We went straight down. We hit the bottom, I banged into Ron, he cracked his face on the wooden front, and I went tumbling off into the snow. When I got up there was blood everywhere! I started to scream blue murder!”
“Well I sort of do remember that now. Ron had a rather bad nosebleed.”
“Yes! Blood all over the place! And I kept on howling, even when I saw dad coming to rescue us. Ron was really quiet, holding his snowy mitten over his nose. I think I felt like I had to make enough noise for both of us. Dad thought I was the one that was hurt. He picked both of us up, one under each arm, and headed for the house. I didn’t stop wailing because now I was watching my dad’s boots crashing across on chunks of ice over the raging river.”
“Lara,” Ainslee interrupts. “Mom said it was a creek. Creeks are like six inches deep.”
“You weren’t even born yet, so you could not possibly know anything about this. Or if you were, you weren’t there. I know what I remember. Because years later when I saw a picture of Paul Bunyan in a storybook I couldn’t help thinking, wow. That’s exactly what my dad looked like the day he saved our lives.”
Ainslee snorts and mom clucks her tongue at her.
“What? That’s how I remember it! He was my HERO!”
“Your dad IS a hero honey, and that’s a really great memory,” her mom tells her sincerely, and Lara decides she’s imagined that bit of a smirk on her mother’s face that mirrors Ainslees. “You should tell that story to your children some day.”
Lara gives them both one of her own very best snarky smirk looks and tells her mother that she will do just that. Paul Bunyan image, raging river, blood all over the place and everything else. Because that’s exactly how it happened.