Friday, March 7, 2008

A Eulogy

Inspired by Once More to the Lake, The Ring of Time, and The Geese - though fictious...

Englebert Brooks White, also known as E. B., was born in a small, blue-collar town outside of Boston. E.B.’s father was a miner and his mother died from complications while giving birth to E.B and his twin sister Felicia Catherine. The town, Maple Oak, was more rural than urban, and situated on the outskirts of the Great Neck Forest. When E.B. was younger he used to play with his twin sister in the Great Neck Forest. The two children divided their time evenly between building tree forts and playing tea party. When engaging in imaginary battles in their tree forts, E.B. would be the white night and his sister, F.C., would be the damsel in distress. The feats of strength and bravery of the young knight became legendary in Maple Oak and the surrounding towns and the young knight received many invitations to the most fashionable and elite tea parties of the time. At these various gatherings, the young knight would indulge in the exotic cakes and liquors, while the damsel would hob-knob with the rich and famous. Many afternoons were spent in the forest, taming beasts and tasting scones.

One particular afternoon, having arrived home from school to find nobody home, E.B. and F.C took to exploring the dark corners of their home. Eventually they arrived in their father’s room. Their father was not a mean man, but he had his ways. After a long day in the quarry he would sit down on the couch with a scotch and listen to the swooning sounds of his transistor radio. More than once the children remember waking up for class with their father asleep on the couch in the clothes of the day before. And although their father was slow with the stick, he forbade the children from ever entering his room. On this particular afternoon, however, the children were curious. After minutes of baiting one another, they eventually made their way to the closet. In the closet, hidden behind an old flannel jacket, the children found a shotgun. Being young and foolish, the children took the shotgun and snuck off to their fort in the woods. E.B., being the elder sibling by a minute, and a boy, was the first to test the weapon. Perched high above the forest floor, laying flat upon the planks of his fort, E.B. spotted a family of geese. Having strayed from the lake, the geese were circling the remains of a picnic. With one eye closed, E.B. took a shot. In a burst the geese took to flight, the dead mother the only remnant. With tears in her eyes, F.C. made E.B. bury the goose. They never spoke of the incident again.

Outside of their wilderness experiences, E.B. and his sister loved stories. In fact, at night when neither could sleep, they would stay up and tell each other stories. One of them would start until they ran out of words, and then the other would continue until the same. The goal was to see who could talk the longest without running out of words. Scholastically the children did well. Though neither received high marks in mathematics, both were highly regarded by their writing teachers.

Upon coming of age, E.B. took to the quarries and F.C. became a seamstress. Although not accustomed to spending time apart, the two slowly adjusted. A few weeks after E.B.’s twenty-first birthday the factory his sister worked at caught fire and all but two survived. F.C. was not one of the two and E.B. was devastated. He quit his job in the quarries and took to traveling. It was during these travels that he began to write. He wrote to make money and reconnect with his past. However, E.B.’s travels never took him far and the majority of his time was spent in New England and Canada. Eventually E.B. settled down in a small town in Maine, similar to Maple Oak, and started a family of his own. E.B. White died at the age of 56 of lung cancer. He is survived by his wife Greta and his son Howard.

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