portion of the artwork for Shelagh Power-Chopra's fiction

The Story of Fidgety Philip
Shelagh Power-Chopra

The boys are always moving around, and I stretch my head over theirs because I don’t have any scenery. I can’t see the fields or the fens or the wishing well or the grazing cattle.

I don’t have much of a view these days because I’m always moving, always lauding others’ works, others’ worlds, and forgetting my own. I always loved car rides for this very reason. A plate of glass before me; the motion just beyond, pictures and more pictures passing by, blurry images and good sight; the world on rollers. The sad swollen world of tomorrow brushing up against and welding us to our woes.

But the boys now are so, so fidgety, especially Philip, and I feel he should be punished but I can’t get around to punishing someone who’s wiser than me, younger but wiser because his eyes are there always watching, dancing, catching all themes around—low and slow. He’s getting on my nerves and I strap him in, wrap the seatbelt round him and just then I see my world far better than all of you.

We couldn’t have children, Peter and I, so we were childless in our conversations, in our exchanges, and it was very good until I felt no explanation. Children are for the poor, he’d often say, not for the rich. But we’re broke, I’d counter. So broke that I can see the bottom of this bowl of pennies. Ah, no, you see, you’re quite wrong. We’re rich, so rich that my mind’s made up and I see character in every step and wonder in our tattered sleeves. Such a romantic, I hissed.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 34 | Fall 2011