Word Count 494
By Sharon Collins
The line of interviewees was long, quite long, long enough to be surprising, long enough that she could not see the end of it. Exhaling into the upcoming wait-time, she examined the book she cradled. As she stepped through the entrance, someone had handed her the big, beautifully tooled leather book, a portfolio of sorts. The cover read: ___________’s Golden Record. ‘Blank’s Golden Record,’ she mused. ‘Wonder who the heck Blank is? The apostrophe is already embossed, but no one’s name is on the blank.’ Just as she finished thinking this thought, her name appeared on the blank, written as if by an invisible pen. ‘Oh my! I guess, Blank is I!’ Laughing at her childish rhyme, she began thumbing through its gilt-edge pages. She smiled as she perused the Table of Contents: Watchful Big Sister, Teacher’s Pet, Animal Lover, Granny’s Little Helper, Most-Reliable-Babysitter in the County, Humble Nurse’s Aide, Honest Consumer, Patient Teacher, Damn-Fine Mother, Loyal Wife, Devoted Daughter: the chapter titles flowed onto a second page. Stunned to find her life detailed thus, she realized that if this book were necessary, she must have been preparing for this interview for her entire life.
Intrigued, she flipped to the page and read under the heading Animal Lover: Three rescue dogs (two sheepdog mixes, and a shitzu/terrier combo.) ‘What a spoiled little boy he had been,’ she thought. ‘But, he was my mom’s final love. After she passed, his need to be adopted was greater than my need not to have another dog, because’ and she giggled as she thought, ‘I was, just as the next heading indicates, a Crazy Cat Lady.’ Under that heading was another list, the endless procession of abandoned city kitties tossed from cars to go live at the farm. ‘What a euphemistic load of crap,’ she almost said aloud. Instead, she kept reading, page after page of loving animal-good-deeds followed by equally as many pages of selfless people-good-deeds. Working at the nursing home through her teens had taught her humility and the importance of an elder-pride. Day after day, she had patiently listened to repeated reminiscences, dutifully laughing on cue at exactly the same dramatic pauses. Volunteering to work Thanksgiving and Christmas so her coworkers could share those precious days with their kids. Once the real job came, she was forever anonymously paying for a student to go on the fieldtrip, or ordering an extra class sweatshirt to for a student without means, or patiently explaining for the twelfth time that THEIR is not singular possessive pronoun, even though she knew that endeavor was hopeless. Her tolerance for the endless asking of “Why?” was epic. She’d raised a brilliant boy-child by encouraging just one more, Why? Mother, Daughter, Wife, Sister, Friend, Teacher, Nurse, the endless subheadings passed the time and she was now at the head of the line. Smiling, portfolio again cradled in her arms, she stepped up the Gates of Pearl as Peter said, “Next, please…”