A Children's Story

Entry by: Godai41

7th August 2015
A Children's Story

Late Monday afternoon brought Maureen the food smells she loved. She could see the vendors on the street below; she could smell their food even better. Maureen, still not quite school age, on weekdays sometimes but not often walked the streets with her mom. On weekends she went out with her mom and dad. Her dream though was to walk down the four apartment building flights, alone, on her own and buy one of the luscious smelling potato knishes that every afternoon invited her to meet it.

Day by day she tried to make a plan. She needed to convince her perpetually nervous urban mom that she could go down and back up the steps safely. If she couldn’t convince her it was safe, maybe she could by appealing to her mom’s sense of taste.

She began to cook up her plan. The first part was easy. Her mom already adored knishes.

At first she thought about drawing a picture of the luscious knish. She could draw a fork in the knish and show the potatoes waiting for her mom. She would color them even more brightly than they really are.

Only her mom directly touching the knish would work, Maureen decided. Yes, I will take a piece of this and a piece of that and make it look like an open knish. Then mom can pick away at you, she told the knish, as if you are really a live knish. Her mom whenever she could liked to touch all foods before she bought any.

Her mother liked hearing the stories she told. That’s it, she thought. I’ll make a picture story and the knish will say how lonely she is and that she wants to talk to mom. The knish will tell where she came from, who made her, and all that stuff. Mom talks to her food all the time, like “you’re too hot, how can I eat you?”, and I should have waited one more day for you to be a little fresher.”

Suddenly she knew she didn’t have to draw or tell a story or do anything. The knish did everything already because it smelled so good. All she had to do was remind her mom of the smell from the street. Her mom always went to the window to get a whiff of the cooked potato knishes she loved. Her mother would even rush her out the door before she remembered she was scared for Maureen and pulled her back into the apartment.

She started to get nervous about her idea. Maybe her mom would change her mind and call her back when she was down a few steps or even a flight. How long would the knish smell keep her mom feeling safe? What if the smell wasn’t as good as usual? She kept pumping all kinds of scary stories into her heart. Which day is best? She was too nervous even to pick a day. OK, she asked herself, Wednesday? If I chicken out, or “knish” out, then I still have Thursday and Friday, right?

It would work. She knew. When her mom wanted something enough, her mom always went for it. Remember the time, she asked herself, when she had a small spat with daddy? She took me out with her and mumbled all the way something about daddy. When she finally stopped mumbling, guess what she did, she remembered. She went and bought him a gift, a Paul Robeson record album he adored and some food he loved; she did what she really wanted to do. The knish smell will definitely get to her.

When she woke up Wednesday her father had already left for work and her mom was listening to one of the radio shows she loved, Don McNeill’s breakfast club from Chicago. I’ll wait until she’s finished with her show. Then suddenly all kinds of wonderful words she had heard her mom say but didn’t really understand the meaning of like aroma, savour, tang, and fragrance popped up and she decided she would use them. It was still many hours before the scent would come to the street and fly up to their window. She thanked the god of sweetness for making it a clear day; no chance of rain to spoil everything.

After lunch she started to worry that she would forget all her ideas and words. Or worse she would get scared and “knish” out. When her mother was busy with something she grabbed a pencil and tried to write down the flavorful words she had heard. Who cares if I can’t spell them right? All I have to do is pronounce them proudly and excitingly. The precious aroma of the knish. The flowing tang reaching up to us. It’s going to work, she told herself.

What if the waft of the knish is not strong enough to lure mom from her fears? Maureen had not thought of that. Mom’s fears have a big head start. The knish has a lot of experience too she felt.

Too late now Maureen murmured to herself.

The time is almost here. I’ll start now. Her mother seemed sleepy. Please don’t take a nap, mom, Maureen prayed to herself. She won’t, I know, she assured herself. Ok. Let’s start. “Mom, do you smell something?” she whispered. Sort of, her mom said.

She continued, “I feel some aroma outside.” Her mom’s nose almost seemed to move on and take on a life of its own. Her mom stood absolutely still and seemed to concentrate her whole mind and heart on something reaching her nose. She seemed to enter a completely different realm of existence that had never been as strong in the apartment through all those afternoons.

Her mom looked very serious, as if she were thinking about something new or, even, thinking freshly. No more words right now, Maureen decided. Let her feel it. Let her do it. Maureen softly slithered over to the window without a word and just peered out. Words had done all they could. Now it was up to the smell of the knish itself and up to her mom.

She stood next to her mom and together without words they savored the aroma. Her mom gave her a careful look and pressed the cold, hard coins in her hand. Gazing toward the door, her mother put one arm on her shoulder and guided her slight frame toward the door.

I will be safe her face told her mom.

Confident in her own steps, direction, and journey, Maureen gracefully walked alone down one flight after another. Without even the smell reaching her en route, she still grew more and more brave each flight, and even reserved some extra courage for the return, the ascent. Of course, she would have the smell of the knishes with her during the return.

The knish merchant welcomed his new customer here alone for the first time. “I know why you are here,” he said to Maureen. “You and your mom smelled the knishes up there, didn’t you?” She silently assented to his welcoming words, feeling their kinship.

She said bye to the knish seller. She walked back toward the door and to the steps. For some reason she didn’t feel afraid. After all, she had already walked safely down the steps. And this time she had the comforting aroma of the two potato knishes with her.

Ascending the first of the four flights to the apartment, Maureen tranquilly recollected the plan she had evolved to sway her mom. She motionlessly patted her inventiveness for having devised the theory she had asserted of the knish’s inherent scent. She treasured her own bravery for coming to have faith in the knish’s aromatic essence.

She marveled also at how she with the knish’s aromatic essence at first beguiled her mother and then at last perhaps, possibly, birthed her mom’s embryonic bravery. The child, she reminded herself, is mother of the woman.

She hoped her newly brave mom would wait for her at the door of the apartment or, who knows, maybe even a few steps down the flight.