Bobo


A short story snippet, rescued from the electronic archives. I seem to have written this in November 1999.  Enjoy.

Jon and Liesa used to sit and listen when funny old Bobo would talk about the Magic Times.

You could never tell when old Bobo was just making things up and when he was really remembering. Most people said that his mind wandered too much, and he imagined things that no one could have seen. But Bobo was the oldest one, and if anyone could remember what happened before the Crash, it was he.  Bobo had helped organize the co-op soon after the Crash, but had never been one of the recognized leaders; besides being ineligible because he was male (though he talked about having once been named an “honorary woman,” he had no documents to prove such an unusual honor) he was too old for that sort of thing, he said.

He would always chuckle when anybody asked how old he really was. “I’m not as young as I look,” was all he would say about it. Which always came across as a joke, because it truly was funny: Bobo looked ancient. His eyebrows and scraggly beard were a yellowish grey, and the wrinkles in his face seemed to fold in on themselves.  But when he went out and worked, tending the greenhouse or repairing a wall, he had enough strength to outpace even the strongest women. Of course he helped the men with the housework, most of the time; all except the needlework.

There was a lot of work to be done, both indoors and out. The children helped, of course. Liesa would contribute to the building while Jon kept the floors swept and the kitchen tidy. One day Bobo would teach him to bake bread. He hoped that would be soon.

Today, however, was a rest-day, and Jon and Liesa sat while Bobo remembered, or imagined, the Magic Times. He talked of a time of wonders: cities with more people in them that could be counted on all the fingers in the co-op:  many more even than the number of berries in a good summer’s picking.  Boxes that spoke with the voices of living people. Magic wagons that needed no oxen, able to carry people beyond the edge of the trees in less time than it would take to plow a row.  Invisible energies that carried light from far away, to illumine lamps that burned without fire.

Bobo said once that the magic was still all around them, but everyone had forgotten how to use it. At that the adults in the room had all laughed, shaking their heads at the old one’s foolishness. That was the only time the children ever saw Bobo cry.

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