Summer of the Word -- Contemporary Upper Middle Grade Feb 7, 2019 11:23:31 GMT -5
Post by hjames13 on Feb 7, 2019 11:23:31 GMT -5
Repository: (noun) a place, building, or receptacle for storage; a closet.
When Number Two visited our house for the first time, he brought plastic red roses for Mama and presents for my five year-old sister Beth and me. He winked, flashing a mouthful of white teeth, and bragged, “My bouquet will last forever.” Mama giggled. Giggled. I was eleven years old and knew he was as fake as his flowers. Mama was thirty and didn’t have a clue.
Beth ripped the wrapping off her gift and found a baby doll. She squealed and kissed its forehead. She loved dollies.
My present. Heavy. Solid. I ran my fingers around the edges. A book. Obviously, Mama had told him I loved to read. Fairytales. Mysteries. The cereal box. But my favorite book was the paperback dictionary which had belonged to my gone-to-Jesus Daddy. I carried it with me everywhere in case I needed the right word—the bigger, the better—to slay a dragon or paint the sky. I pushed my glasses up and swept a lock of brown hair behind my ear, stalling. “Can I open it later? I have homework.”
“Gaddy, go ahead,” Mama instructed.
I fumbled with the tape, and the wrapping paper fell to the floor. The Pictorial History of Baseball. Huh? I knew zip about baseball. I ruffled the pages. Photos of men in dirty baseball uniforms, holding bats and mitts. And numbers. Batting averages. RBI’s. I held the book unable to say a word. Mama tapped the cover with a pink fingernail. I mumbled, “Thanks.”
She planted a kiss on Number Two’s lips and gushed, “You are the sweetest, Karl.” I wanted to gag. Too sugary.
Karl Ferris. That was his real name, but I called him Number Two. Not to his face though. Under my breath. It was a nickname appropriate for someone worthy of flushing. Mama did not feel that way. She smiled at him, giggled at his silly jokes, and sat close to him on the couch in the dark.
He wasn’t handsome like our daddy had been. He had a beak nose and scarred cheeks from pimple popping, and his black hair drooped into his sad puppy eyes.
His eyes. That must have been it.
Mama worked as a groomer at the Good Doggy Shop, and she believed she could tame a growling dog with the right whisper and a gentle rub. “Dogs are scared of us, honey bear. To them we are two-legged giants with big voices and hard hands. Every dog—every person—deserves a second chance and a bit of forgiveness when they snap at you.” Mama’s heart was as big as the moon.
Or maybe Mama was plain lonely. That is why she chose him. It had been four years since Daddy died in the car accident. I’d seen her crying in the kitchen while she washed the dishes, her tears plopping into the sudsy water.
One night I complained about Karl’s frequent visits after glaring at him all through dinner. “Doesn’t he have a home, Mama? Why is he always here?”