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The Caravan – Fragment #77

Hilary had flown in from Regina three days before to help Mona downsize their family home in preparation for moving their father into an assisted-living apartment.

“I thought we’d tackle the backyard today,” her sister told her at the breakfast table. Their father was nowhere in sight, but vague murmurs of a TV morning show drifting in from the living room told her he was already safely ensconced in his La-Z-Boy recliner in front of the television.

She followed Mona out the door, into the back part of the oversized city lot. Her sister marched her past backyard landmarks, commenting on the garage (“Garage is filled with stuff so he parks the car on the street.”); the large tin shed with a corrugated roof (“It’s packed with Mother’s flea market treasures.”); a trio of dog houses for pets long since gone to Doggie Heaven (“I tried to get rid of them a while ago but Dad wouldn’t let me.”); until they halted in front of a rusting structure parked in the northwest corner of the property.

She and her sister stood side by side in the tall grass, swatting at the mosquitoes they disturbed as they contemplated the once pale blue caravan with its pitted walls, glassless window and warped door.

“That’s being hauled away tomorrow by Michael’s friend with the right trailer hitch,” Mona announced.

Hilary flinched at the words. The news startled her. “Can’t we keep it?”

Mona barely restrained herself from snorting. “What are we supposed to do with it?”

In a flash of understanding, she realized, because of their five-and-a-half-years age difference, Mona would have no recollection that Dad intended to transform the empty 1950s caravan into a camper, with places to sleep, a fold-away eating area, and storage for food and the family’s belongings.

“It was supposed to be our vacation home. Mum and Dad were going to take us on adventures through wood and vale and mountain.”

Mona stared first at her sister and then at the rusting eyesore. “You’re kidding, right?

Hilary shook her head. “No, I’m not. It was one of their dreams; to travel around Canada in a camper with their kids.”

Mona looked at her sister as if Hilary suddenly sported the goggle-eyes and wobbly head of a cartoon alien. “It’s being hauled away tomorrow.”

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