It was about one week when I first called Wilma, to see how life was going since we last saw each other. I called around 3:00 PM, just after getting myself a drink of coffee, which I kind of needed because it had been raining on and off all day and was otherwise very gray. In other words, the type of conditions that one would just want to sleep all day if possible.
I was expecting Susan to get the phone, but Wilma actually picked up the phone. "Hello?" she said.
"Hi Wilma." I answered. "It's me, Arthur."
"Oh! I completely forgot! You're trying to call us once a week to see how things are going!"
"Yep. That's what I told you in the card that was with that gift I sent you."
"Oh yes! I can't believe that you got that necklace for me; thanks! Everyone really likes it."
"That's quite surprising, considering that not too many people back in Whitesage took much interest in the thing. But then again, perspective is different for everybody. I'm pretty sure you're wearing it right now."
"Of course. Unless there's a good reason for putting to the side, I'll wear it."
"Glad to hear that. So, since you've returned home, how has things been going?"
"Excellent, Arthur. It's been a full turn since that day when I ran off to your part of the province."
"Well, why don't you tell me about it, topic by topic, starting with your mother. How are things going between the two of you?"
"Much better. We don't seem to get into arguments anymore. I mean, there are still some issues that pop up, but we don't allow them to get all that serious, like we used to."
"That's good to hear. Have you and your mother taken part in the float tank therapy and Watsu therapy yet?"
"Just once, of course. It was just the way I remembered it from back in Whitesage. My mother really likes it too! She thinks that we should make this a weekly routine, though she thinks that we should concentrate on the Watsu stuff."
"Why just the Watsu?"
"I don't know. I think that it costs quite a bit to do both the float tank and the Watsu stuff, and it would be easier just to do one or the other. But I also think she personally likes being moved about in the pool, compared to just lying in a shallow tub of concentrated salt water. Plus, she's intrigued about taking part in Waterdance sessions sometime in the future, which they offer at this place."
"Is it similar to Watsu?"
"Kind of, though a lot of it takes place underwater. I'm kind of interested in it too, though both of us have been told to take part in more Watsu sessions first."
"I see. Makes perfect sense considering the general picture of the more advanced stuff you told me. By the way, is your mother around?"
"I'm afraid not. She ran off to get some groceries really quick. Hopefully she'll be coming home soon."
"That's too bad. I would've liked to have talked to her after you were done. Maybe she'll show up in the meantime."
"I think she will."
"Anyway, how are things going with your friends and Matt?"
"It's back to normal. All of my friends were really happy to see me, and they were all quite sad that something like this happened. Especially Cornelia."
"Yeah, I heard during that phone conversation with… OK, who were you talking with again?"
"That night in Whitesage? It was Taranee. Anyway, Cornelia felt that she was entirely to blame for me running away, and it was upsetting her so much that she seemed to break down into tears every other hour. At least, that's what I was told. So soon after seeing all of my other friends, we took off to see Cornelia."
"Was she as happy to see you as the rest of your friends were?"
"Well, she first didn't believe it was me, but once she saw that I was really me, she jumped into my arms, bawling and blubbering for my forgiveness. Considering that her eyes were a deep shade of pink, I forgave her. She's better now, but she still thinks the whole thing was her fault, and I don't think I can convince her otherwise."
"Hmm. Well, try not to worry about it too much. If anything, she'll be extra careful not to be a bad friend."
"Cornelia was never a 'bad' friend; she's just a bit blunt with her views, that's all. But she's promised to be more considerate and diplomatic about her words and actions from now on."
"That's something everyone needs to do. And at least it's possible in our part of the world. The Stupidians, on the other hand…"
"Eh, let's keep on subject, OK?"
"Yeah. Sorry about that. So, everything regarding your friends is going well. What about Matt?"
"Pretty good. He explained to me that he was setting up a surprise Halloween party for me, and thusly I've made up with him. He says that he'll try to be more open about his activities, musically and otherwise, from this point forward so that I don't suspect anything out of the ordinary. He actually would someday like to talk to you about your musical exploits, if you don't mind."
"I'll think about that, but I will be open to a musical discussion if I get him on the line. Now, about your school stuff. How's that coming along?"
"It's gotten better. All of my reports and other schoolwork I was assigned got good marks, and I think that I'm going better on all of my subjects. Of course, I won't know until I get an official report, but so far all of my teachers say I'm doing quite well on my subjects. Even my math is doing better, and I've always struggled with math!"
"Excellent. That's the best part I've heard all day. It just goes to show the world that competition in anything ultimately ruins everything…"
"Actually Arthur, I never quit the swim team. I was just about to get to that."
"You DIDN'T quit the swim team? But why?"
"Well, it's a really sweet story. You remember me talking about Neil back in Whitesage that other day?"
"Yes. He's part of the boy's swim team, if I remember correctly."
"That's right. Well, after hearing the story from Matt, he let both of the swim teams know what had happened, and in a sign of support, everyone got their hair dyed red."
"That's my hair color, Arthur!"
"Yeah, I knew that. I'm just a little confused by that response; it's definitely different. Then again, I never understood the solidarity of athletic groups. Anyway, go on."
"Well, as touching as the display was, I still wanted to quit. But then I heard that the girl who had taken my roster spot had gotten sick and they were in need of someone to swim the freestyle events. So, I reluctantly decided to postpone that resignation until after the season was over. But in that swim meet, the most amazing thing happened."
"What was that?"
"I won in every event that I took part in! I would have been overjoyed to have succeeded in just one event, but to win them all was… beyond euphoric!"
"Well, that's great to hear that you were that successful. I guess while we are on the topic of swimming, have your times improved any?"
"They certainly have. Both in the meet and in all of my practices, I've significantly slashed my times that I had before we met up. In fact, just yesterday I clocked a 24.95 on a 50-meter freestyle swim. That's a personal best!"
"Wow. That's good by anyone's standpoint.
"Yeah. At this rate, I might be able to swim the 50-meter freestyle under 24.5 seconds around this time next week!"
"I wouldn't be surprised if you did. But remember Wilma: you should only conduct swimming, or any interest for that matter, as a means to an end, with that end being the betterment of yourself. Don't let it become an end unto itself, like you did before."
"I understand, Arthur. I won't pursue swimming in a competitive sense once I'm done with high school. I know better than to have it consume my life."
"Good. If there's anything I hoped you'd learn while you were here with me, it was to not allowing yourself to be consumed by your interests to the point they become destructive."
"I've learned it well."
"Well, the only thing that I can think of is about any future plans to visit me. Have you and Susan discussed this any?"
"A little. She thinks that, if there's time, we can visit you around the Christmas season, or maybe to put it more accurately to Whitesage logic, Yule season. But nothing has been set in stone just yet. We'll be sure to let you know if we are planning anything that will be in your part of the province."
"OK. I keep my ears open to anything that's coming your way."
"Good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some homework I need to get back to. I'll let my mom know you called, though she'll probably say the same stuff as I have just now."
"OK. She doesn't have to call me, but if she wants to, be sure to let her know. And in any case, I'll talk to you around this time next week, unless something comes up. If so, I'll try to call near that time."
"Bye." I then hung up, happy to hear that Wilma was both happy and surprisingly prosperous. If ever anything had made my day, it was this. And it made me want to see this girl, my niece, again in all of her new-found greatness.