Friday, June 15, 2007

The Monsters on the Road

It was a late Saturday afternoon in October. I was seven, and my parents were driving my sister and me home from our respective music lessons -- a weekly event that I had come to dread. When you're seven, music lessons are weekly bits of scheduled torture. I'm sure that my sister would have agreed with me, if I ever would have asked her.

Each week, we would be robbed of our Saturday and instead be reimbursed with a creaking metronome and an old lady yelling, "Play that passage again, but this time more slowly!" But, as much as we hated it, we would mysteriously find ourselves complying. And at the end of each hour, we would leave the lesson feeling dejected and completely betrayed by our own actions.

Metronomes were the real enemy. When you're a kid, being forced to divide time into equal amounts of musical measure is like going to the beach and only being allowed to count out individual grains of sand during your “playtime”. Every cracking click from the evil box only further reminded us of the one thought that gave us kids true pain: we're missing Saturday morning cartoons.

But after some time, the clicking box would drown out any thoughts at all, and the concept of Saturday morning cartoons would fade away. Eventually, we learned to become tolerant of our weekly lessons, and we passively accepted them into our regular cycle of living.

Besides my sister, my only friend that I could depend on each Saturday was the road. From traveling on it so often, I felt like the road and I had come to share a very special bond. Each week, he would have something new to show me: a shredded tire, a renegade box that had escaped off a freight truck, or (if I was really lucky) an old, abandoned car. No matter how unbearable the lessons became, the road would always deliver something amazing for me to see.

This particular day in October wasn’t very different from any other day in October – or any day at all, for that matter. But, I will never forget it because of what happened next during the car ride home.

We were passing through El Monte, when suddenly my dad cried out, "Yuki! Paul! Close your eyes! There's something really scary coming up on the side of the road!"

My mom immediately joined in, "Oh no! Your father is right. It's horrible!"

Upon hearing the sheer terror in their voices, my sister and I quickly covered our eyes and buried our heads in our laps, hoping that it would be enough to save us from the evils on the side of the road.

My father continued, “Don’t worry, kids. We’re not afraid of these monsters. We’ll protect you!”

As I sat there with my hands tightly cupped over my eyes, I began to think of my friend the road. Why he would suddenly want to show me such horrible things that my parents would have to protect me from? I felt betrayed and ashamed that I had ever built any trust in our friendship. From the darkness of my mind, I cursed the road and put him on my mental “ex-friends” list. And with my magical psychic abilities, I sent a silent message of gratitude to my brave parents for boldly protecting us.

After what seemed like enough time to have another music lesson, my mom sent out the safe signal: “It’s okay. You can open your eyes now. The monsters are gone."

I couldn't help myself. I had to see what the horrible monsters which my parents had so courageously battled looked like. I carefully turned my head ever so slowly towards the car’s rear window. My heart began to beat faster as I thought of the unspeakable horrors I could potentially see.

I fearfully looked out the window, only to find my old friend the road blankly staring back at me. Then, I noticed it: the faint blinking of carnival lights waving goodbye to me from a distance.


Carmen said...

what a cute story. it's beautifully written! sorry you didn't get to go to the carnival :(

Keith said...

Maybe the monster was... attacking the carnival?

seventh sister said...

Maybe your parents were afraid of carnival rides...or afraid that that cost more money than a music lesson.

Milky said...

Evil parents =(

Ophelia said...

Lol... so, your parents tricked you? Lol, as a parent, I reckon that I am also guilty of stuff like this... lol. They didn't want you to be sad for not being able to go to carnival, nor would they cancel lessons for the day... I have also been faced with similiar situations with my kids.

BTW, my kids' lessons (caela-violin, andrew-saxophone) have also been on Saturdays also. But these days, with Cartoon Network being on all the time, they didn't care so much for Saturday morning cartoons, lol.