I’m eight years old, and Uncle Benny doesn’t have to go back to the Rosewood State Training Center for Boys out in Reisterstown, Maryland anymore. He never ever has to go back because he lives in our house now and guess what his room is filled with strawberry ice cream. The walls are covered with ice cream. The chairs are. Uncle Benny’s bed is made of strawberry, and the carpet is strawberry plush. In my dream, Uncle Benny’s sitting at his desk, which mother and I bought for him. The desk is the color of strawberry. Uncle Benny's sitting at the desk and he’s writing. He’s copying letters out of my first grade reader, my Dick and Jane book. All of a sudden, a strawberry walks into his room. She touches Uncle Benny's shoulder. She touches his shoulder and it’s no longer twisted into his sternum. Now, the strawberry touches Uncle Benny’s spine and he sits straight up. She touches his knees and he gets out of the chair, stands straight to the sky and throws his cane into the strawberry waste basket. He bends down to pick up the cane and it turns into a strawberry ice cream soda. Uncle Benny drinks the ice cream soda and then in a voice that is no longer unintelligible, he reads Dick and Jane to me, the whole story, about Sally and Spot and the little kitty Puff. I awaken from my dream and run into the kitchen to find Mother wiping strawberry ice cream off of Uncle Benny’s unshaven chin, which won't get shaved until Uncle Izzy comes home from the print shop. Then we’ll get back in the car and drive out to Rosewood where we’ll leave my Uncle Benny on the steps of his cottage.
-Esther Altshul Helfgott