Charlie's Imagination

Photo Credit: Canadian Stories

The monster was back again today. Charlie stood back and watched in silence as the big machine worked slowly down across the field. It had a long arm sticking off from one side that picked up everything from the ground. In Charlie’s eyes it looked just like some king of giant metal monster, crawling over the land and eating everything in its path. It ate the good stuff and spit the bad stuff out into the big containers waiting alongside. Charlie was glad that it wasn’t a people-eating monster.

Of course, it wasn’t really a monster and he didn’t know exactly what the thing was. His father had tried to explain it but somehow Charlie just couldn’t wrap his eight-year-old brain around it. Maybe because his head was too filled up with other things… like sailing boats in his little swimming pool on the patio; or playing among the tall grass and bushes in back of the house. He could be an adventurer, sailing to far-away lands in search of treasure; or a fierce and cruel pirate. Sometimes he was a pioneer trading with the Indians, or a cowboy chasing cattle rustlers. He could even be a detective looking for clues to solve a crime like they did on television.

“Charlie! Are you coming to help pack your toys?”

“Coming, Mom,” he answered and turned towards the house, dragging one foot after the other. He did not want to do this. He did not want to pack. He did not want to leave his home and live in the city. Charlie just knew he was not going to like living in the city.

Charlie almost wished the big machine was a monster and that it would go eat up the city. He wanted to stay here on the farm so everything could stay the same as it was now. But he knew that wasn’t going to happen. It had been a dry summer and the crops had not done well, his father said. Other farmers would leave when they found work in the city. Mom said they were lucky because they had both found jobs but she would be home when Charlie got home from school.

He went straight to his bedroom where his mother was kneeling on the floor, among the toys and empty boxes. “Can we take my swimming pool?” he asked.

“Yes, of course,” his mother assured him. “There will be room for it on the deck.”

“Are there bushes and tall grass?” he asked.

“No,” she replied, “but there’s several large trees in the back yard where your father can build a tree house.”

“A pioneer could live in a tree house so he’d be safe from bears,” Charlie said thoughtfully. “Or a shipwrecked sailor… or an astronaut on an alien planet… or someone in the city hiding from metal monsters that eat people.”

His mother smiled and shook her head. “Oh, Charlie. You and your imagination.”

© Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Oct/Nov 2015
[81st Photo Story Contest]


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