Frost: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”
Question 1: How did you meet yourself?
It was a question really of custody. The principals had argued back and forth about transfer points, length of stay and what amount of phone calling from the noncustodial party could be considered appropriate. The judge made it clear that there would be no disparaging of the absent party, or the state would take over and the child would become a casualty of statistics. “We can all agree nobody wants that,” said the judge, and everybody agreed. Mostly because that was the expected and moral thing. Really, everyone involved was beginning to suspect that the whole case was more trouble than it was worth. So when the details were hashed out, the child was prepped for the transfer with a list of do’s and don’ts. “You can take anything you want with you,” mother said. “Anything that will help you feel like you’re home.” The child had unerring instincts and felt that a lot of uprooting was in the future. He chose a handful of glass marbles that looked a bit like gum balls. They fit in the palm of his hand and vanished easily into his pocket. He would never be without them. And that would always be the only thing he ever packed.
The transfer site was a public park. It was neat and well kept, popular with the locals. Standing back to the sun, a grim older version of himself looked back at the child, without resentment or welcome. The child felt like it should be raining or dingy or that the noncustodial one should be smoking or something. The scene had that kind of feel. “You have a backpack or anything?” He thought about mentioning the marbles but did not. When you told officials about things they tended to disappear (the treasures, not the officials). Or at least to somehow become less valuable. “Are you sorry it’s your turn to look out for me?” He asked instead, as a reply. Across the distance of a thousand lifetimes, old old eyes looked at him with a strange compassionately disconnected understanding. “Not for me, child. I’m not sorry for me.” Mother handed over the overnight bag with the Essentials. She walked quickly back to her own car, while the Temporary Guardian and the child watched.