Donald’s father was a plumber, his mother a homemaker. As a child, Donald considered
his mother’s existence—cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking care of Donald and his
younger brother—empty. He didn’t think much of his father either—what kind of a life
was fixing toilets and sinks all day?
Donald got a scholarship to go to college; he decided to become a teacher. His
brother joined the army; during Donald’s last semester, his brother got killed thousands
of miles away, searching for landmines. Donald felt regretful; but his sorrow was
nowhere near as acute as the discomfort he felt at his mother and father’s reaction: at
the funeral, his father looked lifeless; his mother cried more than Donald would’ve
Donald got a job at a high school. Shortly thereafter, his father died of a heart
attack; his mother then passed away from cancer.
He dated occasionally; once, he was in a relationship with a fellow teacher who
taught art. Donald enjoyed her company, but found the situation suffocating. He’d lie
awake weighing: independence but occasional loneliness; dependence albeit sans
He chose what he considered freedom. He was afraid that the art teacher would
cause a scene. He was relieved yet vaguely saddened when she didn’t.
He took an interest in traveling: summers he dedicated to seeing the world. He
became fluent in Spanish; learned basic French, Portuguese, Italian.
Occasionally, Donald would experience something like smothered longing; when
gazing at the water of the Seine, the peaks of the Alps, the buildings of Mexico City.
He decided that upon retiring, he’d move abroad. He’d gaze at the map and think
about England, Chile, Canada.
There was also Rawson, Argentina. Although Donald had never been there, he’d
visited Buenos Aires. The seasons were the opposite of those in the states. But the
weather, otherwise, was similar.
He’d look up Rawson on his computer while his students did work (or pretended
to). Then, an image of Rawson on his screen, Donald would gaze out the window. A
feeling of expectation would vibrate within him: the same feeling he got when he
decided to become an educator and vowed to live a life different from that of his parents;
when he’d broken it off with the art teacher; when he’d decide to learn a new language.
S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry, and his website is sfwrightwriter.com.