Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Eight

By Timothy Smith, 2020

Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 8

Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)

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Third week of October 1963, one month after the school term began, delayed by a school fire, and meeting in the cannery’s  “mess hall.”  Jay-Jay is back in school after being injured in the fire.

Judson was gradually coming back into his own after the trauma of fire, hospitalization, and recuperation. The bandages were off. But visions of familiar faces screaming at him through walls of flame still wrenched him awake. On one awful night, it had been his mother’s face in the flames. In this dream, try as he might, he could not grab hold of her to drag her to safety. He awoke sobbing and coughing. His father had sat by his bedside and listened as he related the details. Jeffrey Hansen admitted that he sometimes saw Kayah’s face in his dreams, too. His dad assured him that his mother was now safe and healthy and that nothing would ever harm her again. Mr. Hansen told his son to say to himself, “I did a good thing. I am ok. Everyone is ok. It will be alright.” Maybe it wasn’t what an expensive therapist might suggest, but it was good advice nonetheless. And Judson deeply appreciated this closeness with his father, which they had lacked for so long.

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Then like an athlete returning to the field after being on injured reserve, Judson began to feel the part of him that once had resulted in frequent trips to the principal’s office beginning to reassert itself. Judson was developing an especially strong aversion to the wretched Arithmetic We Need textbooks sent over from Ouzinkie. The books seemed filled with nothing but story problems, and it annoyed Judson no end that half the stories involved objects and situations completely alien to the students of Sokroshera Cove. After his father had struggled to explain a particularly urban-centered question involving streetlights and speed limits to the fourth graders, and had finally moved on to a different problem, the old Judson jumped to the fore. He duplicated the story problems’ random and largely irrelevant subject matter, but as though written for the village. “What we need is Arithmetic We Understand,” he declared. Then, in a spot-on teacher voice, he intoned, “If you have fifty pounds of halibut in your freezer, and your dog is six years old, how long has it been raining?”

Sandy Ann, Marla, and Herman began to laugh, not so secretly agreeing with Judson’s assessment of the math books. Mr. Hansen turned toward his son with great interest, but made no comment. But even Mr. Hansen himself had to laugh when Barbara, in all seriousness (as usual) asked, “How do you know that it is fifty pounds of halibut you have?” Mr. Hansen walked over to Barbara, put his arm around her, and said, “Judson was just being silly. We all need to get back to work now.” He grabbed a battered turquoise and red book titled The New Fun With Dick and Jane and began to regale the younger grades with the adventures of Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, Puff, and Tim the Teddy Bear.



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