canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Leave It Where It Falls

by Ken Sparling

Shortboy was at the front door, shouting. John was in the garage, tidying. He picked up an old length of hose that was twisted and knotted and he held it in his hands and looked at it. He shook his head.


"Just a sec."

He took the hose over to a shelf and tried to shove it in, but it popped back out and fell to the floor. John left it where it had fallen and went out to the driveway to see what Shortboy wanted. It had started to rain. Shortboy had the door open and his head out.

"Aren't you getting wet?"

"No. I turned the tv off. Is it lunch time?"


"I want it to be lunch time now."

"We can go over and get Sammy if you'd like."


"Get your boots on, and your coat. I'll be there in a minute."

John went in the garage. There were some empty milk crates on the floor by the wall. There was a plastic bucket with toys in it, and another plastic bucket with Christmas lights. John looked around the garage, his arms hanging at his sides. He went into the house. He got Shortboy into his coat and boots and they went out and got in the van.

It was too early to pick up Sammy, so John drove over to the grocery store and parked the car in the parking lot.

"Are we going to Loblaws?"


"Good idea. Now we can get Mulan."

"Okay, but we have to get Mommy some Ginger Ale, too. And we have to hurry, or else we'll be late getting Sammy."

John got out of the van and went around to the side door and opened it. "Let's go, buddy. We have to hurry."

Shortboy undid his seatbelt and slid over to the door. He stood up. He hesitated a moment, then jumped down onto the pavement. John pulled the sliding door closed and started for the store. "Watch for cars."

Shortboy grabbed his father's hand and they crossed the parking lot. "Let's get Mulan."

They went through the Moven Pic and around past the cashiers to where the videos were. There was a big display for Mulan and John grabbed a copy and handed it to Shortboy.

Shortboy looked at it, then looked up at John. "Lets go get a cookie."

"First we have to get Mommy's ginger ale." John walked toward the aisle with the pop.

"Wait for me."

"We have to hurry."

Shortboy caught up to John and grabbed his hand. John checked the price on the PC ginger ale. Then he went along the aisle to check the price on the Canada Dry. The Canada Dry was 30 cents more, but John figured it tasted better so he picked up a 2 litre bottle of the Canada Dry. "Let's go."

"First a cookie."

John looked at his watch. "Okay, but we'll have to run." He grabbed Shortboy's hand and they ran up the pop aisle to the back of the store, then crossed over to the bakery. There was a man with a baker's hat standing behind the counter and a woman further back taking a cake out of a big oven.

John spoke to the man. "Can we get a cookie for this guy?"

"Sure." The man went over to a counter and picked up a pair of tongs. He brought a cookie over and held it out to Shortboy. "There you go."

Shortboy took the cookie and turned away.

"What do you say, Shorty?"


"You're welcome."

They went back to the front of the store.

"Now let's go buy Mulan and we can get out of here."

"But Daddy."

"Come on."

"But Daddy."


Shortboy held up the copy of Mulan. "We already got Mulan."

"No. I mean let's go pay the lady."


They stood in line at one of the checkouts. Shortboy's teacher from his morning program was ahead of them in line.

"Look who's here."

"You know me, don't you?"


"What have you got there?"

Shortboy held up the video. "Mulan."

"I haven't seen that. My son is ten years old now and he won't go see those movies anymore."

John laughed. "Shortboy saw it twice in the theatre. His brother saw it three times."

"It must be good."

"It's pretty good."

After they paid for Mulan, they went out to the van and drove over to Sammy's school. Shortboy wanted to go through the snow banks by the side of the road on the way into the school, but it was taking him forever to get through because the snow was up to his waist.

"Come on. We're late."

Shortboy pushed on through the snow. John walked along the sidewalk. He looked at his watch. They got to the school. Sammy was waiting outside with his coat and his boots on.

Ken Sparling is the author of Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall (Knopf, 1996) and the Fiction Editor of  Broken Pencil. He lives and writes in Toronto.







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