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Today's Story by Janet Shepard

I stand in a line of mothers from the North Pole to Antarctica, ready to improvise whatever my child needs.


Glowing with excitement, the kid came home with a peeling baseball he found on the beach.  “Look, Ma,” as if it were something innately valuable.  I set aside the old eggbeater I had excavated from the garage, since the Cuisinart died after a mere ten years of domestic service.

“What are you gonna do with that?” I ask.

“Can you sew it up?”

I peer at the thing.  Some kind of good leather bleached white and rubbed very smooth by the elements, covering a sphere that appears to be silk threads wound around and around a solid core.  What stitches remain on the leather are neat, uniform, clearly machine made.  For no good reason this makes me think of Eskimo women pulling catgut through hides, punching holes for the stitches with a homemade awl carved from polar bear bones probably.

While I have been communing with the moldering baseball, my son has been examining the eggbeater.  He moves the handle gently in the batter, then faster, interested in the patterns formed by the blades under pressure.  He’s smart enough and careful enough to keep droplets of batter from flying everywhere.  He’s waiting for me to say I can fix his found treasure, but I know I cannot.  I stand in a line of mothers from the North Pole to Antarctica, ready to improvise whatever my child needs, unwilling to deny him the simple pleasures of life because I know how soon simplicity will fade and complexity will enter the scene.  Today he’s asking me to fix a baseball; tomorrow it will be a glitch in a computer program or a cranky cell phone.  Oh, who am I kidding – by the time he knows his way around a computer or a phone, he’s going to be the one fixing my complicated problems.

And so I tell him a story about an Eskimo boy whose mother made him a sort of baseball from a solid core of a small rock wound round and round with dried tendons and ligaments of dead seals, covered with a swatch of desiccated hide, stitched together neatly by a bone needle and a mother’s guilt.  And then I let him lick the raw sweet batter from the beater blades.


Janet Shepard is a writer living in Northern California.

Read more stories by Janet Shepard


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