“Give us the luxuries of life, and we will dispense with its necessaries.”
Everything goes by faster during the summer; I think it’s the heat.
(Whispered from the pull at the pocket of his jeans.)
He’s a serious man, her father.
I mowed two days ago; today, the grass is almost ankle high.
(A louder whisper from the pull at the pocket of his jeans)
He was relatively handsome, but he had gained some weight that he thought of as well hidden when he left his shirt untucked – it was not.
I water it once day and today I have to take a machete to get to the grill!
(A voice came out of the pull at the pocket of his jeans)
She had not yet learned from her mother and sister. To get her father’s attention she would have to pull at his back right pocket.
But the heat, I mean, god! Seriously! Our A/C went out last week, and you know how those guys gouge you. They know you can’t go a day without air conditioning.
(Her whisper became a shout. Her pull became a yank.)
Grabbing her arm, he knelt down and looked at her furiously.
What Bray! What! What! What!
We’ve been through this haven’t we? A million times? If I am talking to another grownup, you wait until I’m done.
She nodded her head.
Am I understood?
“Yes sir.” Her head facing down, the whispers had returned.
Kath, can you see what she needs? I’m trying to grill everybody’s food and talk business with Dan, but I can’t do either if I’m getting interrupted every five seconds!
Kathy got up and went inside. She walked briskly, mumbling to herself about how busy she was compared to how busy he was. Her heels clicked on the concrete porch. She looked nice. Just nice. A light wind blew against her bright flower patterned dress. It too was nice. It fell well on her almost forty but still relatively fit figure. A figure that she felt put her in league with the mass amount of sitcom moms who were obviously too good for their husbands.Her mind was elsewhere.She passed by her son sitting on the couch. He had been entranced in the TV for the past three hours.She also gave no thought to her other son who was upstairs with the neighbor’s daughter flirting with the distance between first and second base.Her heels clicked on the tiled kitchen floor. She went to the freezer, grabbed an item quickly, and retraced her steps.
Sure was a lot of work Jack, Kathy said.
If it was so easy, why are you complaining? He replied.
The men laughed.
Here you go Bray. Now go play with Jane and let us grownups talk.
Bray, I got you a popsicle now go play. As I was saying Marcie, crepes are funny like that; you can make them by accident if you just add too much milk to your pancake batter.
Bray made her way towards the swing set, and halfway there she mumbled to herself.
But I didn’t want a popsicle.
She was interested and slightly scared of her next-door neighbor Jane. Jane was loud. Jane was nine. (A full year older than Bray) In every way that mattered, Jane was opposite of Bray.
Is that safe?
“What?!” Jane Shouted; of course, Jane shouted everything.
Is that safe?
“Is what safe?!”
Standing on the swing.
“I don’t know. I never thought about it.”
Arntchoo afraid of falling and breaking your tibia?
“I don’t know. What’s a tibia?”
It’s your leg bone. I read about it in a book.
“I don’t really like books. If it’s my bone, can’t I name it what I want?”
That’s not how it works. The people who wrote the book named all the bones first.
“Nah, if it’s my bone, I’m gonna name it Wolverine, because his bones don’t break. I saw the movie!”
But you can’t do that; and besides, Wolverine is a boy.
“Can so. I’m older and smarter. An’ I’m queen of this swing set, and I can name bones whatever I want. And since you’re trespassing on my kingdom, you have to pay the tax fine.”
I don’t have any money.
“That’s ok; you can pay with your popsicle.”
Ok. Can I leave the kingdom now?
“Sure; you can be my ambassador. That means you go and spy on the other peoples for me.”
Ok. I’ll come back later.
Bray took her job seriously. She crawled across the yard and sat behind her dad’s grill. Hovering back and forth between her parent’s separate discussions, she listened intently. Spy planes were less discrete.Of course, there is little to disguise when there is little radar.
“I’m thinking of doing some private consulting.”
“Well, I just now thought of it, but it would be a great move in this climate.”.
“Oh well.. um, you can go inside if you want Lucy. Or I guess out here is fine. I don’t know how you do it though. I went straight to formula with all of my kids.”
“So I said to him…. Chuck, you’re a millionaire why the hell are you worried about a muffin. HAhahahaha…..”
“He’s a jerk that’s why! And besides, I would never pay that much for someone to tell me to jog and eat more vegetables.”
“He couldn’t coach a fly to eat garbage!”
“Really? You can deduct that? I always heard..”
“He’s so worried about this merger, but I told him, I said, ‘The big fish get big because they’re not afraid to eat the dead!’”.
“What a joke! I don’t mean to be harsh, but c’mon… Let’s be honest, I don’t care how cute her blouse was, it didn’t cover up her face.”
“You have to hate a little bit if you want to get ahead, and that’s not me saying it – those are the facts.”
“No, not green. I’m looking for a more… a… Well, I think you know what I mean. Jack how’s that food coming?”
“God it is hot! Hey Kath let’s chat in the kitchen for a sec. Jay you mind checking these every few minutes?”
“ I’ll bring out some fresh drinks after I see what Jack wants.”
“Bray!” A voice called from the other side of the porch.
Down at the other end of the porch sat a man and woman. She was holding a baby. Her’s was the sweetest smile Bray had ever seen.
“I’m your mom’s friend Lucy. We were watching you, and we wondered what you were doing over there in the grass for so long.”
Her whispers came back and she didn’t know what to say. She always found that her whispers came at the most inopportune moments.
I think I should go see what my mom is doing.
“Hold on a second. I’m Henry, Lucy’s husband. Why don’t you stay out here with us for a moment?”
Bray thought that they seemed nice, but her mind was still wandering towards her parent’s whereabouts.
Ok. Are you my dad’s friend?
“Um, I’m not his enemy.” Mr. Henry replied.
While laughing, Lucy hit Henry on the arm, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same as Bray had seen before.
Henry started again. “Bray, let me ask you, how many freckles do you think you have?” “Henry, leave the girl alone.” Lucy said laughing. “This is science darling, don’t interfere I’m a teacher.”
“You teach English!”
“Bray the question remains, how many freckles do you think you have?”
A hundred maybe.
“Have you ever tried counting them?”
“Well you should. I would wager that you have more freckles than there are stars”
Bray couldn’t even respond. The thought wrapped her up like a blanket. She couldn’t explain it, but she thought that she liked Mr. Henry very much. And then the baby started to cry.
“Henry, I think we need to go.” Said Lucy.
“Sorry Bray, we’ve got baby business. Don’t forget this conversation.
I want you to start counting and next time we will start figuring you out.
I bet that there are whole galaxies involved in those spots.”
They both said bye. Bray waved. The rest of the adults were still at the other end of the porch talking. Her dad walked out smiling and laughing.
“Looks like everything is ready!” He shouted.
Bray went past as everyone was getting a plate and moving towards the grill. She went in to find her mother.She found her in the bathroom.
“Oh, Bray you scared me.” She said cleaning her face with some toilet paper.
I’m sorry mommy. What’s wrong.
“Nothing, nothing sweetie. Did you want something?”
I did earlier.
“Well, come on.. what was it?”
Mmmmm, can I have some watermelon?
“Oh, I forgot to buy one! And that was all you asked me to get, wasn’t it? I, I was just so busy planning this cookout. Well, I gave you a popsicle though didn’t I. Besides, lunch is ready. I’ll buy some tomorrow. I have to go help your father. Wash your hands and we’ll eat ok.”
She washed her hands and headed outside. She wasn’t very hungry.Instead, she made her way over to the swing set. Jane had left already to eat. Bray forgot to give her report. She was about to sit down on the swing when she saw it. Jane put what was left of the popsicle on the swing. Of course, it had melted, and now it looked to Bray like a blue pool with a long wooden diving board. She wished that she had never seen it, because now she kept thinking about how hot it was and how badly she wanted to swim – But more than both of those, she thought of stars.