Friday November 22, 2013
Toronto Star (Life Section)
Mika was making currant and orange marmalade tea cake and George was raking leaves. Ryan was reading a Tintin comic on the couch, trying to not nibble on his nails. Miss Christie, his homeroom teacher, had shamed him horribly on Friday afternoon saying, in front of everyone, “Ryan, do you know how many germs live underneath our fingernails?” Ryan imagined hundreds of tiny bugs, of various shapes, crawling around together in an orgy-like pile. Although he was an intelligent seven-year-old, he wasn’t sure what a “germ” really was. Sometimes his mother added “wheat germ” to muffins so that she could call them “breakfast”. George came in the back door. “Hey, bud!” He said. His cheeks were red from the bite in the air that had arrived at the beginning of the month and hadn’t wanted to leave. “What does a “germ” look like, Dad?” Asked Ryan. “Oh sheesh, bud, what have you been reading?” George peeled off his grey sweater. “Do me a favor and don’t Google that, okay?” Mika was singing along to the radio in the kitchen, the house suddenly smelling of sweet citrus.