A few years ago, when I was back visiting my dad in Kansas City, I picked up a bunch of my old children’s books, thinking it would be fun to share them with the kids. Last night, I pulled down one of my all-time favorites to read to Kato.
Long before it was a movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a beautifully illustrated children’s book.
I read the book to Kato, and he was appropriately delighted by succession of foodstuffs falling from the sky. We finished reading, and I was just about to put the book back on the shelf, when I found the following note, neatly folded between the front cover and the first page.
Reading the note, my mind searched for answers. My father’s name is John, so perhaps this note was written to him. But who was Laura? If she was one of his friends from work, I have to question her penmanship and grasp of the letter J. Furthermore, the book in question was not, in fact, John’s but mine. MINE. Why did my father loan Laura this book without my permission, and why was it he and not I that reaped the benefit of Laura’s appreciation? And what did I do while my favorite book was missing from my bookshelf? Did I suffer? I must have. How did my father explain the book’s absence? The episode must have been so painful. Does my failure to remember it now suggest that I have repressed the trauma but that, like some insidious parasite, it continues to gnaw away at me?
The questions pile up in a dizzying heap, and I’m guessing that, across the span of 30 years, the answers have been lost.
And so I will fold the note and place it back in the book, to be found again one day, perhaps by Kato’s son or daughter, that they might ponder a while on the galling mystery of it all.