Center of Center (32)
the final installment of the serial novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora
The sky looks so big at the end of University Boulevard. The C.U. research plots bring back the past when Center used to be fields of prairie. Pioneers had to stand on the backs of their oxen. They peered over the top of their wagons to orient by a Bur oak way off in the distance. There was a constant fear of hearing a growl between the shushing stalks. Then, the prairie was burned and plowed. The soil replanted with corn, and later, soy, and the fields rose denser. The fields became walls that held row after row to the horizon.
Ma was a gifted woman. She was physically present and enjoyed the present of her days. Ma understood that life was a gift. She said that she was ready to die, but I didn’t really see that until now, when I look back and realize that she couldn’t give any more of herself. She couldn’t serve those families at Loop and she couldn’t regain solace on Sundays by herself.
And there was—and is—so much more of her than her life of service and her example of solitude that we’ve lost, that has passed, that is dead with her. But there is something left, that remains.
I’m left wondering can we honor Ma’s example in her life, even though she’s not alive? Can we serve our families? Can we serve strangers? Can we appreciate time with them as well as solitude by ourselves?
At Coneflower Court, several moving trucks take up multiple parking spaces with their downed ramps. A swaying woman carries a box, obscuring her face, but I can’t see if she wears red sneakers.
A hand reaches by my feet. The can-of-corn student reaches into the trash and steps off the front steps. He takes his spoon out of his pocket and scoops some corn from the can into his mouth.
Elizabeth walks to the front and says, Thank you.
Have a good summer, I say.
You, too, Elizabeth says and then says again, Thank you.
I sit alone in my bus. I have to get back to C.U. I close my doors and go.
CENTER of CENTER is a serialized novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora. This is the final installment. Stay tuned for an interview with the author.
Go here to start at the beginning.
Installments: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31