August 14, 2022

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My Big Son - Culture

My Big Son – Culture

Author Hunt 2022

Sauen is a famous Norwegian writer, but who? Look for hints in the text and images, and submit your answer below. If you answer correctly, you’re in for a treat to get a Kindle reading tablet. The solution and winner will be announced on Sunday, July 31.
Good luck and God bless you!

***


I was standing at the youth store in the shopping center when I whistled my bag, walked away from the bus stop and grabbed the phone.

– Are you there again? !!? He said on the screen. It was from Jan. I opened the letter and immediately replied:

– What you mean?

– In Carling?

I hesitated a little before answering:

– number.

Throbbing in my palms and chest, but I closed my eyes and took a deep breath through my nose before I hung up the phone and tossed it in my bag before turning my attention back to the bus stop. I quickly picked up two pants, just checked the size, and ran to the jacket rack, where I immediately saw that the front of the hoodies was in an XS, and so I took it.

I went to the checkout area and put the items on the table, looked over my shoulder, and pulled my wallet out of my bag at the same time.

– Didn’t he want to join?

– Huh?

– Didn’t he want to join? I repeated the writer, and it struck me that I had asked the same question the previous time, because it was common for mothers to buy clothes for their sons, but girls come themselves.

– I didn’t say

– It’s common, isn’t it?

– Yes, I can promise you, answered the clerk,

– I saw that you did not take care of yourself, he laughed, and also laughed knowingly.

Boys don’t bother, but girls usually come alone.

Absolutely typical, I laughed.

– It is usual for the mother or father to return after two days because the clothes do not suit the taste of the capsule at all.

– Yes, I would like to believe it.

– How old is he?

– 14

They grow one meter per month at that age.

I laughed as he removed the alarm on the hoodie, and said that it was especially in this transition between kid size and adult size, that it wasn’t easy to pick a store anymore.

– No, said the employee, and continued, – it would be 2,800 NOK.

– It happens that the clothes in the children’s wards are still appropriate, but then you feel too old, as I said while putting the card on the station.

– Not true, he said, and then there was silence for a while.

– He said, you have to press an icon.

– Oh, I said, blushing a little, and quickly pressed the keys.

– I used to be able to put the card right in.

– No problem, he said,

I hope the dress is to your liking. I accepted the bag he was carrying.

– Maybe they do.

Outside again, I sat on one of the green leather sofas on the pedestrian street between the shops before I pulled out my phone and opened the thread with Jean again.

– Yes, you’re right! did he write,

and then

– Mother!

and then

– the answers!

and then

– Now I’m calling my dad!

green sofa

She put the phone next to me and thought she couldn’t tell who I was, she was just guessing. I searched the bag again. The pants I bought were the straight-on type, with a camouflage pattern and the other all black. The hoodie was bright orange with a small yellow mark on her right chest.

My chest pounded hard, and I got the brochure that the writer had attached. The young men who wore the hoods looked awkward even with obvious faces, halfway between children and adults. While I was sitting there, a message arrived from Tori.

– I talked to Jean. She says you are driving again. I will visit you after work.

– You certainly do not need it, I wrote, – it exaggerates. She’s not a psychiatrist, although she does take an elective in psychology, and she makes things up.

– He said she’s afraid of you, she cares.

– You think I’m buying clothes for Jostein again, but I’m not.

I sat and looked at the phone while he answered.

Her friend works in a jewelry store in the center.

I glanced at the row of shops in front of me, and the jewelry store was right next to the Carlings. A young woman with long dark hair stood behind the table and looked at the computer screen. I didn’t know her, and she looked like she was at least twenty. But she is still at Jeanne’s age, it is absolutely impossible to distinguish between teenage and adult girls. When she looked up she looked straight at me, but when she realized I was looking at her, she quickly turned her gaze to the screen.

– Did she add spies now, um? I am writing again, and why isn’t this friend going to school?

“I’ll come anyway,” Tori wrote. – It’s my home, too.

– He’ll buy you eggs! Tried seeing the typo pop up, but didn’t get any answer.

I hurried out to the garage, put my shopping bag in the car, and tightened the front tire a few times, before I went to the bakery. I bought myself a cup of coffee and half a roll with white cheese and paprika, and found a table overlooking the escalators.

There weren’t many people to look at at this time of day, but I could find a kind of calm just by watching how the steps on the ground at the top had disappeared, and I had to calm down now. Tor came to visit. It didn’t help him say anything to him. He “cared” and got engaged right away, even though it’s been three years since we broke up.

Janne also stopped properly as it was, usually without notice. I no longer take responsibility for her care, this was not something I had decided for myself, but that’s how it turned out. Anyway, she didn’t have caring responsibilities for me either, but it was pretty clear that she fantasized about it. And when they got carried away and “got in”, they had to come to me suddenly and find out if I was hiding something from them, I understood very much, but that did not create a pleasant atmosphere between us during those visits.

For example, if I was sitting in the middle of dinner when she arrived, but I had nothing to offer her. Then she would say, for example, that she wasn’t hungry, but that she still sat there while I was eating. I once asked her if she had anorexia, because she just sat there and watched the others eat, but she looked at me as if she had found fault, she had such a righteous face that could erupt at any accusing moment

– Mother!

Instead she said:

People with anorexia are underweight. not me.

– I read that you can get sick even if it does not appear on the body, I said, just so as not to lose the discussion at once.

– Then she called it an eating disorder, not anorexia.

Potato, potato, I said, but she kept arguing

Anorexia is the most serious mental illness that exists, as the number of deaths is very high. Those with eating disorders can lead completely normal lives, and they usually manage to cover up their suffering because the body doesn’t show it so clearly.

– But they suffered?

Yes, they suffer from overthinking food.

– I like to think about food. It does not cause me suffering, it gives me joy.

– Mother! She said, and it was, of course, an accusatory “mama,” she uttered with the intention of making me understand that I must now give up, and so I did. I held out for half a minute.

These eating disorders, do they think they want to eat ice cream, but they can’t eat that ice cream, because they think it will lead to weight gain?

– Mother.

– Because in this case, I, too, have an eating disorder.

– You don’t have an eating disorder.

– Just the usual inconvenience?

Jean remained silent for some time.

– Yes, I think you’re a little upset.

– I was shocked, she added, checking her head.

– I think you have too, as I said, as you stood up so fast that the chair fell backwards.

– Now you are behaving in such a way as to force me to go, Mom, said Janne Beherska.

– Yes, get out! I visited.

– And don’t come back! I added, but I knew she wouldn’t care.

Sometimes there are people standing on the escalators. It’s too early for there to be many, but some staff at the center are hopping on with me. Pensioners, shift workers and mothers on maternity leave.

I remember doing the same thing when I had young children. Yan first, then Justin three years later; Then I was an expert and could show other moms tricks to get the babies to sleep, tricks to get them to burp, such simple things that were so hard with Jean, but with Justin it wasn’t a problem.

I’m still in touch with many of these moms, maybe a little down, but I follow what they share on social media, send out Christmas cards, and now I’ve also started planning affirmation gifts.

It was Jostein’s clothes buying that made Janne and Tore start worrying again. I didn’t start this when they came out. They were discharged during a period when I was ill. As long as I was in the hospital, they could have lived at home just fine, but there was no point living there with me when I was at home. Tori had brought it up as a consideration for Janne, and I couldn’t deny it, at least not when I was clear enough in my head to understand that it was true.

Sometimes I slept all morning and wandered all night. I probably saw how the expression was fixed on her face, not on my alert face, but on a straight mouth. I could stand leaning on the sink with my hands freezing in the water, my gaze fixed on the trampoline on the porch, then came to myself as I appeared in the side view with her gaze. But with so much time on my own, I can conjure up that face and understand the expression. This is probably the same expression you use when you take care of me in the kitchen at dinner, but then I try not to look at her. Already finished at that time.

– You can turn down the trampoline well, I trotted at Tori, and Jean dashed away.

– It’s not like anyone uses it anymore!

Stickers in the carton of clothes

I remove the wrap and swallow the coffee, I’m suddenly in a hurry. Tor said he’d come after work, but he might also come at lunch, so he could grab me for my shopping bag. It doesn’t help me to say I spend my money on what I want, because they put everything into a “bigger picture”, they say, and Tor helps me financially, he’s done that since I became disabled.

As soon as I got home, I quickly ran up to Justin’s room with the bag. The bed is well made, I bought a new bed for him when he was 14 and it was time to replace the narrow bed and foam mattress.

I had also removed some old stickers, and hung up some which I thought were more age-appropriate. On his desk there is a cup with materials for writing and drawing, I put a shovel and a ruler there a few weeks ago, but now I take scissors and cut the price tags on the pants and the hood. I raise it in front of me. A 14-year-old boy is almost as tall as a 40-year-old woman. I smile and shake my head before I put the dress in his wardrobe. My eldest son. Then she sat on the bed.

Just a few minutes later, I hear the phone ring again, so I run down the stairs and see it’s ripped.

– I’ll come for lunch, see you soon.

– Damn you! I want to answer, but I don’t answer anything. Instead, I run to Justin’s room and take the clothes out of the closet. I put them all together in a plastic bag, and tie again. Put on the alligators, and jump 250 degrees into the Fretex container. Pull the lever down and put the bag into the slot, and push up again quickly so that the metal sings.

I could barely sit at the kitchen table before I heard the sound of Tori’s car crashing into the pebbles outside. I know what he’s going to say, I replay it in my head when I see him walking through the grass, across the field where the trampoline stands, where Justin spent most summer afternoons during his elementary years. When he comes, he comes to say it right away, it is as if it has become an established ritual.

– Justin is no longer around.

– Do you think I don’t know? I will answer.

– You act as if you don’t know, he comes to say, and then either I start crying, or I can turn it off.

***
Illustrations: Veronica Lutke
Did you find out the author, or do you need some hints? Sauen has authored award-winning books and theater, and is not afraid to speak out or be criticized. Submit your suggestion to whom this could be in the form below:

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