“Look at those mountains Joey. What do you think they’re made of?”
“See how dark they are? What else do you know that’s dark like that?”
“Good guess Joey. But they aren’t made of chocolate. Any other guesses?”
Jenny stifled a laugh. “Another good guess, but they’re made of rock. You know, like that rock you threw into lake Titicaca last week?”
Jenny smiled warmly and blinked back a tear as she pushed Joey in his wheelchair. She was getting older and she thought it’d be the last chance she’d have to show her disabled son the world.
Jenny only had one child. She had a failed marriage that could have resulted in a brood of kids back in the seventies, but her husband let her down harshly. She went and studied archaeology in her forties – a lifelong dream of hers – having decided she didn’t need a man to be happy and productive. That was until she met her real life Indiana Jones. – a guy that put the fictional one to shame.
The two were happy, travelling from Turkey to the Dead Sea, bringing Joey into the world, and eventually ending up in Guatemala. That’s when Jenny’s man got a little too adventurous for his own good. Pursuing an archaeological trail of clues, he ventured into Belize and encountered some people looking to take advantage of an affluent foreigner. As he didn’t have anything of great value on him, all they took was his life.
So, Jenny was left to raise her disabled son on her own. She moved back to her parents’ home, who were septuagenarians themselves, and resigned from her life of adventure to do her best for her son and her parents.
When her parents passed away in quick succession Jenny inherited the family home. She found a lot more free time, but not a lot more funds. The doctors had told her that her son wouldn’t make it past his teen years, but it would be his twentieth birthday in a week, and she decided that his present would be a trip around the world. No one in their right mid would have said it was a good idea, but she had the feeling that the time was right. She sold the house, booked the tickets and went.
Joey had been declining during the months leading up to the trip. His eyes had been hollow and he’d lost the animation that he’d had before. The air of the Andes must have filled him with something good, because his colour returned and his smile came back. Jenny’s feeling of helplessness was completely abated when she saw her son laughing on the bow of a ship on the way to the Galapagos Islands, and again at a llama in Cusco, and again on the side of the road overlooking the Urubamba Valley with the wind in his hair.
Jenny cried a lot on that trip, but she smiled more than she had in the last twenty years. The two world explorers were in transit to Mexico when Jenny’s most anticipated fear came to pass. Joey’s body gave up on him.
It happened quickly, somewhere in the air over the top end of South America. Joey was facing his mother with a little smile on his face. She didn’t need to check his vital signs to know what had happened. She just closed her eyes and held his hand. She’d given her son the best life she could, and she was glad.