When I was 19 years old I met George.
Tall and handsome. A soldier.
He seemed so...well so exciting.
It was a dance at the Port Credit Academy Hall. Stairway to Heaven and heavy petting. I still think I stopped breathing when he lifted the skirt I was wearing and ran his fingers under the top of my underwear.
It was two months later that I was pregnant. George was fine at first. Then it was off to Nova Scotia. He promised he would be back, but in the end it was only a few cheques and the death notice when he somehow got himself killed ten years later in a stupid, distant place.
I secretly hoped that he had had time to think about it all after that roadside bomb ripped off half of his head.
His son was always a runt. Poor Job. Brilliant yet sickly. Short with glasses. While his classmates wanted to be the next hockey all star, my little Job wanted to memorize the atlas.
Never any friends. Always buried in his books.
When Job was seven I met Scott. He was much older than me. At first, he seemed so romantic. So new. So different.
Then...well then he seemed like what he was. An asshole. Dominating, possessive, mean-spirited.
Still, you know at heart I was a kid. I thought he knew best. I thought at least he came home every night. Or...anyway...most nights.
Scott was always hard on Job. He told him he was sickly. He told him he was a wimp. He told me that a boy like that would never go anywhere in life without discipline. He hated that Job was small, skinny and, frankly, not his.
Last summer Scott wanted to go up north. My parents had just bought a property on a lovely little lake near Gravenhurst. We all drove in his Volvo. A bright and hot Saturday afternoon.
In town we went for dinner and walked along the promenade. Job saw it first. Right up front in the window. It was a scale die-cast model of a Constitution Class starship. Never have I seen him more excited. It was like he could picture Worf on the bridge.
Do what you want, Scott said, but tell me how he deserves anything like this at all.
I remember that I could feel Job's sadness as we drove to the cabin. Alone, as always, in the backseat.
It was two days later that it happened. We were all down on the dock. Job wanted to go out swimming. I wanted him to wear the jacket, but Scott just looked at me with that inimitable contempt of his and said well you want to raise a fag don't you.
To this day I don't know why, but I actually listened to Scott.
I suppose at some point I must have drifted off. Scott fled up from the beach to the driveway. In all likelihood to smoke dope in the car.
I awoke to Job's cries. He had drifted far out into the lake. He was clearly struggling.
And I could do nothing. To my great shame, I couldn't swim. And Scott, well I guess it had not mattered to him to stay and watch out.
I could see my son was going to drown. Swim, Job, Please Swim. I screamed at him. I begged him. But he seemed to drift further and further out.
It was as if Job decided to live. There he was, glasses still on, swimming as hard as he could.
Swim, swim, goddamn you swim.
I was most terrified when he got near to the dock. He was obviously swallowing so much water, and he was crying and I thought to myself Please, please don't let him sink now...not now, so close...
I had the oar and when I knew he was within reach I threw it out.
Once he was on the dock he vomited out so much liquid. I still felt like he was going to die.
And finally, out of nowhere, there was Scott, yelling, ranting at Job. You really are a fucking idiot kid. Do you have any fucking idea how much you scared your mother and I? and on...and on...
The next morning, early, I slipped quietly out of bed and went to Job's room. Asleep with his little history of Rome. He was so tiny.
I carried him to the car and only woke him when we were in town.
I bought him that starship.
And when we got back to the lake, I told Scott that he could go fuck himself.