• Helen Row Toews

Prairie Wool

“Get well soon”

I was in Marshall School on September 1st to begin the new year as an EA and haven’t darkened their door since. Surprised? I was too, and since calamities are said to happen in threes, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Allow me to explain.

On that fateful afternoon, after the first day of school, I broke my foot. I’d like to tell you it happened while saving an innocent youngster from being hit by a train. Or perhaps I fought off a pack of ravening wolves as they attacked a small, helpless dog in my care. But I can’t. I broke it when I tripped over my stupid sandals and smashed into a bedroom door.

Then, over that very weekend, while quietly watching a little TV in my own home, I started to get a sore throat and cough. Oh no! The funny thing is, I travelled to four European countries this July. I hiked through some huge airports, squeezed into the Paris Metro, maneuvered along crowded city streets, happily wandered through massive markets packed with people, and ate in busy restaurants. No ill effects. Then, in August, I further journeyed across several Canadian provinces—again, without getting sick. What happens? I come home and wham, COVID-19. 

What’s next, I ask you? Will typhoid fever strike me down as I trod outside with a bag of trash? Will I smash my head open on the coffee table, requiring stitches and reconstructive surgery when I bend over to pet the cat? Or perhaps I’ll shatter a hip as I stand near the stove stirring a saucepan of soup? Your guess is as good as mine.

Thankfully I appear to have a few folks who care about me. I received phone calls, text messages, and, low and behold, an obscure wish never seen before on this side of the Mississippi—a get-well banana. 

I’m not talkin’ about an artfully arranged fruit basket or a plastic tray of delicious cut produce. I’m not even referring to a whole clump of the mushy, yellow fruit. Instead, I’m talkin’ one singular banana with the words “Get better” etched into its fleshy side.

This lone fruit was sent to me by a young girl named Molly (of aforementioned school bus fame). Molly is in high school now, and I don’t see her on the bus anymore, but she thoughtfully inscribed this ripe fruit and sent it with her sweet sister, Claire, for me to enjoy. Who does that? I can see her hunched over the kitchen table with a pencil from her book bag, hastily scratching this note of cheer into the fleshy, yellow skin.

Sadly, I hate bananas. However, I absolutely loved that one and shall remember it always. I mean, how many people can say they’ve ever received a get-well banana?

In any case, I’ve been home to limp, cough, and recuperate in private since then. No further incidents prevented my recovery, and for that, I’m truly grateful. I appreciated all the kind wishes and expressions of care that everyone sent.

But none more than the banana.

Helen lives on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan, where she works as an author, columnist, and in education. Find her online at helentoews.com. There, you can read more of her humorous Prairie Wool stories, or discover her YA fantasy series, Runestaff Chronicles.

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