Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 143: Clementine, Chapter 3

That night, sitting at the dinner table, I kept thinking about that girl. Holding my fork and scooping up my Hamburger Helper Stroganoff, I could see the berry stains on my fingers. Who was she? Why had I never seen her before?

My father sitting across the table from me, his worn black slacks covered in chalk dust from teaching, cheerfully asked "Well, Munchkin, what kind of house did you find for us today?"

He always asked me that. Every day. I could count on him to ask, and so I always had a descriptive answer.

"Two stories. Stone and shingle, craftsman style. Trampoline and pond in the back."

He nodded appreciatively, "Do you really think craftsman style is the right choice for us? Don't you think it's going to look dated in a few years?"
Shaking my head, "No. Craftsman style is much better than stucco. I like brick, but it's hard to find brick that goes all the way around, and I don't like siding."
Again, he nodded, considering seriously.

I reached for the corn, without asking for it, so my dad saw my fingers.
"Berry picking?" he asked, surprised, "Without me?!"
"Not really," I gulped, "I was walking home, and... there was a girl. She was picking berries and she gave me a few."

Both my parents raised their eyebrows now, hopefully. They wondered if I'd made a new friend, I could tell. "Who was it? Anyone we know?" asked my mom. "No," I replied, scooping up some orange jell-o, "at least, I didn't know her. She was lots younger than me. I've never seen her before."

Too young for a friend, they were thinking.

I stood up to clear my place and scraped the leftovers into the garbage disposal. My mom glanced at her watch and suddenly switched into what dad and I called "Flight of the Bumblebee" mode--zooming to get out the door and to work on time. She pecked the top of my head with a "G'night. Do your homework." and then rushed out the door. My dad, whistling off-tune, put all our plates in the dishwasher and then walked down the creaky hallway to his bedroom to grade quizzes.

Tapping my short fingernails on the counter, I wondered what to do now. It was the end of the year, so I didn't have any homework, really. I couldn't watch TV while Dad was grading. It drove him crazy. I guess outside was my best option.

I slid open the front door and turned to walk down the street. Paulette was just getting home from work in her colorful car, talking on her cell phone and nearly ramming into her mailbox. Further down, I could see Tabitha Sloan walking her two rottweilers and her miniature pony for the evening. Mariachi music blared from somewhere close by, mixed with the steady "thud, thud, thud" of a car stereo system's bass amplifier. I walked absentmindedly by the different trailers on my street, noticing the various wind chimes, flags, and lawn decor that seemed to change with both the season and the current occupants. Turning right at the next street down, I could see Miss Peggy, wearing a long broomstick skirt and with a long cigarette hanging out of her mouth. She was hammering a red FOR RENT sign in front of a faded blue trailer. Double wide, but with only a patio and no lawn. I wondered who would rent it. Would their father be a teacher, too?

Next to the blue trailer was where Mr. and Mrs. Finley lived. They were old. Very old. They didn't have stairs to their sliding front door, but a ramp instead. Jammed into the dirt was a painted sign that said "One hot chick and one old crow live here." I liked the Finleys. They made me laugh. They were the only ones who, like me, thought that living in a trailer park was something you could laugh at and be ashamed of. They were the only ones who didn't have trailer park pride.

Maybe the Finleys would tell me as soon as someone rented the trailer next door.


Fiauna said...

Love it. Keep it coming!

heather said...

Ok, I am over not being able to read Lavinia anymore, this is GOOD! More please!

dave said...

what does the title mean?

Adam S. said...

your writing style reminds me of A year down Yonder or Because of Winn Dixie. Two great books. The first person casual conversation really works here. My only complaint is that I think a family with two kids and two incomes of a nurse and teacher might be on the high end of the trailer court life. You might consider making the mom a Nurse's assistant picking up shifts now and then--something to make their income not completely reliable--that said I am sure that you could find a nurse/teacher couple in a trailer park, so don't change it just for me!

oops this is lesli--I guess I am signed in as Adam.

Christina said...

Where'd you go-oooo?? Come back!!

P.S., I drove past the 'flying carpet estates' (not joking) today and thought of this story...

Molly said...

Hi Becca- I just started reading and my very first thought was the same as Adam S (lesli). Two incomes, teacher and nurse? They are better off than that. My Dad was a teacher- single, solitary income, and we managed to have a house and 62 acres, even with 6 kids. BUT, having said that, I'll keep reading to see if there is a reason for it that hasn't emerged yet.
I also agree with everyone else that your voice is comfortable and your attention to detail is excellent!