Spain in the Spring
by Evan L. Klein
They walked along the sidewalk in the small town they grew up in. Owen was still young and Lenny was younger. Owen told him stories about the times he had been to France and his intentions of moving to Spain in the Spring. Lenny, who was only ten, had never heard of such things. He was new to the whole world being as small as he’d been. Owen told Lenny that on his twenty-third birthday he left for Europe and dropped out of school. He had, as he said himself, both wanted and needed to leave, no matter where he was going. The simple idea of always moving away kept him from sitting around.
“I’ve never been on a plane before,” Lenny said to him.
“That’s alright. I remember my first time.”
They got to a small bakery on the main street of town. It was the only place you could get fresh croissants and muffins which Lenny always loved.
“This feels like we’re in France, doesn’t it?” Lenny asked as they sat by the window.
“Oh,” he said, embarrassed that he had said anything about it.
“France feels newer but older at the same time. It’s sort of the best place to go. But I’ve been there already.”
“We should go there together,” Lenny said, “you and me.”
Owen thought about it for a moment. “I could take you before I move to Spain. Unless you want to go to Spain instead?”
“Spain is dirty, isn’t it?” he asked.
“Spain is beautiful, even more than France.”
“Really? Okay,” Lenny said, “but I’d rather go to France.”
Owen agreed to take him for two weeks before he moved to Spain, given that Lenny could get the time off from school and that he could save a few pennies himself. They walked home to their father’s house and Lenny felt as grown up as ever. He looked up at Owen in between conversations, if not only to reassure that he was still talking. He watched his lips tell of the nights under the Riviera. How he swam in the Mediterranean and how the water was blue crystal. When I’m older, he thought, I want to be like him. My older brother.
They got around the harbour where the boats were still in their holders for the winter. The February air was as cold as the years before. They usually took the long way home when Owen was in town, even in the cold, partially on Lenny’s request and partially because it was time away from the house. And time away from the house was calmer and easier to comprehend.
“Matt’s here, you know,” Lenny said.
“Great…,” Owen said. “Now we might have to go in the summer.”
“Why?” Lenny asked.
“Because of money and whatever.”
“Okay.” They got inside. “Summer is fine.”
Their father, an older and balder man, sat at the head of the table for dinner with insecurity and power. He was never in too concerned, for he was high for most of his life. Owen told him about his days in the city in which his father nodded and moaned. It was always easy, Owen thought, almost as if he never even heard him. Lenny told him things too, about school and the girls he had a crush on, but their father always seemed to forget. They knew he loved him the way father’s loved their sons. But their words seemed like blankets in the wind. Fallen from the line. And their older brother, old Thomas, was sitting in his tweed jacket and loose trousers waiting for them to come inside. He had a stubborn reality. A small imagination. His voice rumbled the curtains and the windows above. It was sometime near seven when they finally got settled.
“What are you doing for work?” Tom asked.
“I’m still at the real estate company,” Owen said.
“Answering phones. Making appointments.”
“How does it pay?” he asked.
“It pays,” Owen said. “Decent enough until I become a real writer.”
“A real writer?” Tom asked. “Jeez, I can’t keep up with you.”
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer I’ve just never told you before.”
“And what would you write?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Owen said. “A short story about something or other.”
Their father grabbed the takeout box of chicken breasts and set a few more on Lenny’s plate. He had heard of Owen’s wanting to be a writer but never knew what it meant.
“Well, buddy,” he turned to Lenny, “What’s your favourite class in school so far? Tell me I’m dying to know.”
“I don’t know,” Lenny said.
“Why don’t you ever tell me about it?”
“Alright, well if you had to choose, what would it be?”
“French,” Lenny answered.
“Really? I sucked at French,” his father said.
“I like it.”
“Should’ve went to France with Owen then.”
“We’re going in the Spring,” Lenny said.
Tom, with a mouth full of food, laughed so hard it almost came out from his nose. He covered his mouth and wiped the tears from his eyes.
“What?” Lenny said.
“We are, aren’t we Owen?” Lenny asked.
“Yeah, or –.” Owen got up and rinsed his plate off in the sink. “–or in the summer. Maybe the fall. Whenever.”
“Owen,” his father said, “don’t tell Lenny things like that.”
“Why not?” Owen asked, “I’ve been to France.”
“You were only there for a week.” Tom set his napkin on the table. “Lenny, don’t listen to your brother. Last I heard it was Paris, then Rome, next thing it’ll be somewhere like Spain. You can never know for sure with him.”
Lenny looked at Owen, who had stopped brushing his plate, and back at his food and suddenly he realized he wasn’t very hungry anymore.
“I’m so tired of being related to such smallminded people!” Owen said. He left his plate to dry, barely hanging from the rack.
“It’s not being smallminded, it’s being realistic you little prick!” Tom yelled back.
“Oh just let him be,” his father said.
Later that night Owen and Lenny sat on the couch in front of the television. They watched movies until it was dark. It was calmer now. Lenny had left the house. In the quiet of the shadows, Owen turned to his little brother, who had his head on his shoulder and said:
“We’ll go sometime soon, Lenny. I promise you.”
“Okay,” he said.
Their father came into the room and asked what it was they were watching. But they hadn’t said anything. They just pretended to be asleep.
Evan L. Klein is a young Canadian writer and poet. He has published works in University of Toronto’s Acta Victoriana. He lives in Toronto.