Only One Hour
Copyright © 2010 Renyar Wehttam
My cousin Marlon and my aunt Helen are coming over tonight for dinner. I always get excited when they come over. We’ve been best friends for almost four and a half years now. Ever since he was born. I was still only two months old then, I’m still the oldest. We almost always agree on everything, unless we’re together for more than a day. Dad says it’s just us getting tired. I know it‘s just because my cousin is being mean.
Dad says he should be here in one hour. I go to the front door to check if he’s early. Dad tells me that one hour is a long time and that he won’t be here yet, but I know better. If there is only one hour, then it can’t be that long. He’ll be here soon enough. I wait out the front on the steps that lead to the front veranda and listen for the cars going past. Each time I hear a car coming it seems to slow down, so I stand on the top step to see over the fence, but every time I stand the car seems to speed up and I can see that it’s not them.
I sit on the steps and play with the pine needles, pulling the bundles apart and making a stack of the single needles, waiting for my aunt’s bronze Bluebird station wagon to pull up across the street. I love that car. I can remember going to the beach last summer and getting hot chips and a soft drink, a small electric fan on the dashboard our only salvation from the heat. Our skin made a ripping noise like Velcro when we got up off of the vinyl seats.
I start to think dad may have lied to me. Surely one hour couldn’t take this long. I hope he gets here soon. We can play our favourite game before dinner. We pretend to be commandos and climb things. Even finding our guns was fun: any L shaped stick would do for a pistol, but a long one could be a rifle and with the addition of a correctly placed second stick you could have a machine gun. My machine gun always went “eh-heh-heh-heh.” Marlon’s always went “duh-duh-duh-duh.”
He’s still not here. It must have been at least seven hours by now. Cars continue to slow down as they pass, raising my hopes, then smashing them to pieces as they continue down the hill. I start to think Marlon isn’t coming over after all. Another car slows down. I’m starting to lose hope, but I get up on the top step anyway. It’s aunt Helen’s Bluebird. Yes! I run down the steps to greet them at the driveway.
Marlon runs too. He can’t wait to show me his new toy. It’s a Ferrari Hotwheels car. We forget about it soon enough though and arm ourselves with the best sticks we can find. I’ve got a rifle and Marlon finds a machine gun. We climb our usual favourite trees and shoot imaginary Nazis until we are called in for dinner. Aunt Helen has her usual cane basket with her, a two litre cask of white wine to share with the adults and a Bavarian cake for dessert. I love the cakes she brings. We have lasagne for dinner. It’s Marlon’s favourite. I like it too, but I’d rather pizza.
We agree on most things.
After dessert, aunt Helen tells Marlon that they will be leaving in an hour. I tell Marlon that an hour goes for ages and that we’ll probably be in bed by then. We go to my bedroom and get out my toy cars so that we can play with Marlon’s new Ferrari. The Ferrari’s doors open. That means it can fly. I have three cars that can fly because their doors open too. I give him one for now, but he probably has about ten at home. We make a city out of building blocks and race around it, doing skids and wheelies.
After no time at all aunt Helen comes in and tells us that our hour is up. I don’t believe her. It was a lot quicker than when I was waiting for them as far as I can tell. We whinge a bit and Marlon says he doesn’t want to go home. I start to cry a little. Helen says she’ll have a cup of tea and then they are definitely going home. She always does that. I love her for it, but she always drinks her tea too fast.
When they are gone it’s time for bed. While I get into my pyjamas I ask dad why the hour we had to play in after tea was so much shorter than when I was waiting. He just laughs and says, “Time flies when you’re having fun buddy.” I don’t believe him. I don’t think an hour measures time after all. It’s just something adults say when they don’t know when something is going to happen but they know that it’s going to happen soon.
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