It’s Monday. I strip the bed. Off with the white linen embellished with faux-suede dots in shades of blue.
Readers who may not be familiar with the Moon’s environs are referred to An Atlas of the Moon, by Theodore Dies, which has gone through several editions. It shows all the geographical features, towns, rivers, political boundaries, and contains as well individual topics on flora and fauna, geology, resources, and demographics.
‘Have you washed your handies properly?’ Mom’s voice was sweet like ice-cream, but sometimes, like ice-cream on a summer’s day, it made his head hurt. Of course he had washed his handies properly. He was six. He could make his own PBJ sandwiches, he could pack his schoolbag on his own, he could get his own jimmies on at night and go to sleep with only a nightlight on, so he could sure as anything go to the bathroom on his own and remember to wash his own handies. Did they think he was a baby or something?
She was trespassing in another girl’s bedroom and wearing her clothes. This girl was her father’s daughter and Arthur’s intended. If only she could return to yesterday when these pink walls and her engagement was enough. The underside of her wrist was irritated from the clip she had stolen from Vera’s garter belt, and latched onto her cuff. A big red spot had developed, flaming scarlet. Dinner was threatening to come up. She smelled it-irony and something else, like the smell of a dead animal. Was it from the clip? She remembered the rat she had seen on her way to the morgue, it’s red eyes had stared at her without blinking.
There’s something satisfying about making a nice jam, especially when you have grown and gathered all the fruit yourself. Sometimes, that’s not possible, of course, not in this day and age. Gardens are so much smaller now, hardly big enough for a decent-sized shrub, never mind a fruit-bearing tree. But there are ways around obstacles like this, ways of making the best of things; little compromises and wrinkles that you learn over time.
It was a busy intersection, with traffic rushing through and three of the four corners bustling with commerce. On two of the corners stood grocery stores, shoppers swarming in with lists and hustling out with ingredients for holiday dinners and parties. On the third corner was a home improvement superstore, half of its big parking lot filled with cars, the other half brimming with Christmas trees and people. Huge, fluttering banners on the fence surrounding the lot proclaimed Guaranteed Lowest Prices & Biggest Selection. Brilliant lights were strung from tall poles, and atop the poles were speakers booming dance versions of holiday tunes.
I gripped the armrest and felt my stomach drop as we prepared to land in California. My face was tingling, I felt overheated, and my stomach seemed less than pleased with the experience. My brother slept peacefully next to me, the subtle scent of soap and boy wafting off of his head, and I was once again jealous of his easygoing nature. While he enjoyed his pleasant dreams, I was fighting to keep my lunch down. I won, but just barely. My relief soured soon after we landed and I remembered what was ahead. An entire two weeks with the man I’m obliged to call my father. Just the kind of Christmas vacation I always wanted.
Ella Mae packed more thriftily than before – taking only the essentials. So family portraits and the meager record collection (Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland) – all being left – as well as the dented tin box on the kitchen shelf, behind the flour bags.
The security camera makes short, jerky movements as it scans the room. The receptionist is watching him watching it watching him. It has crossed his mind that this might prove to be the initial stage of assessment, an unmentioned part of the review of his personality. He keeps his face dispassionate.
He was there waiting for me when I arrived home from work. I watched him watch me as I clambered out of my car. I watched him start to move forward as I headed up the path. Despite the twinge of guilt, I was secretly overjoyed to see him. My heart positively sang. And – just look at him – he knew it.