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There Is No Better Time Than Today

Don lived alone and three days after his wife died, he bought himself a riding lawn mower.
His late wife had a solid annoyance for slothfulness.
One time, Don had let Tommy ride with him. Let him steer the mower, even.
Don would throw Mr. Freezes to the children, over the back fence, in the summer.
His dead wife would have baked Tommy and Sissy cookies, instead.
His dead wife would have probably made them fresh lemonade, too.
And had it all sitting on a freaking plastic tray, when she presented it to the little brats that grew-up next-door.

Four and a Half Years Old

"I just wanted to let you know that we are going," Tommy said, seriously to Don. "We might never be back."
"Alright," nodded Don, agreeing. "I have a few things for the two of you. Things you might need. Come on in here for a minute."
"Okay," Tommy agreed and led Sissy through the white door, that Don was holding open from the other side. The inside.
The living room was all blue couches and pink flowers. Still. Only because it was almost-new, Don defended the room, in his mind.
Tommy thought Don's house smelled gross.
The kitchen took up half the floor space on the bottom floor of the house, and everywhere, in the room, was bookshelf and fishing net.
The kitchen was weird. Tommy felt weird, standing in it.
"If you are going to run away, the first thing you need to do is find a bag. One you can fill and carry comfortably," Don said.
And Tommy looked at him because this made sudden sense to Tommy.
"What would you put in a bag that you could carry?" Don asked the boy.
"A pillow!" Tommy replied; smiled, thinking he was smart.
But apparently, this was not a smart reply. Don shook his head. "Do not be a dumbass."
"Dumas," Sissy repeated.
"Shut-up, Sissy," Tommy glared.
"Food. You want some damn food." Don threw in half a loaf of bread into the grocery bag that he had grabbed, from the bottom drawer. Crackers. Raw macaroni noodles.
"I am going to give you this peanut butter, too." Don held up a small jar. "You will need a knife for this. Always take a knife, when you runaway."
"To stab the bad guys," Tommy nodded, knowingly.
Don whistled. "Oh, Dumbass has a bit of a brain, eh?"
"Dumas!" Sissy cheered, again.
And this time, Tommy smiled at her.
Don threw into the bag; a knife, two spoons and two metal-canned fruit cups. Then threw in the other two that came in the green package. And one can of baked beans.
Figure that one out, Dumbass...
"Books!" Sissy pointed.
"Good idea. Everyone should read," Don said, to her blond head; his eyes staring at Tommy, before turning them to his shelves.
Don spent a long time looking over his books, flipping fish net that tickled his nose, out of his way.
"Here it is." Don tapped his finger on spine. Happy, he stuffed the book in the bag and handed it to Tommy.
"Next time you run away, remember to bring a change of clothes. Some washcloths. There is room left in that bag, do you notice? Always bring one thing you love. If it is a damn pillow, bring a small one! And only take food from the cupboard," Don was explaining, as he took the children back to his front door; opening it. "Good-bye, children."
"Thank you," said Tommy, stepping through, with Sissy in tow.
"Tankyouuuuuuu," Sissy smiled and smiled and smiled, up at Don. Twinkle eyes.
But Tommy hurried her along. "Lets go, Sissy, lets go. Lets go. Lets go now!"
Stopping at the end of the driveway, Tommy turned and looked and saw that Don was watching them, as they left. "Don. Do you know my Dad's phone number?" Hopeful eyes.
Don wanted to say, yes.
What Don said, instead, was, "No, Dumbass."
Tommy turned, tugging on Sissy fast.
He was mad at Don for calling him names.
Don was not smart. Cleaning was not fun. He would NEVER bring washcloths. Not when he knew that he could fit his dinky cars in the bag; instead.
Tommy was storming down the sidewalk.
Sissy was toddling. "Dumas...dumas...dumas."
Tommy did not think about the book that Don had put into the bag or the possible space it might be wasting.
Tommy did not even know the name of the book was Roots.



Comments

Rob said…
A strange but poignant vignette...
phoebe said…
the only good thing about being gone so long is all the great reading there is to catch up on!

hi q.
phoebe
John said…
Interesting stories, would you consider syndicating so I can load you up in my aggregator and read when I'm offline? Good stuff.
Queenie said…
John, I suppose I could, once I find the time to figure out how to do that...

Hi Rob!

It is a very nice pleasure to see you...and Lydia, Phoebe.

Q
AJ said…
I'm returning to *my* roots today after a long absence.

Hello Queenie! Hope all is well.

And dammit...is summer over already??

:)
Queenie said…
AJ.
I hope you are smiling.
Because after summer--I am :)

Q
AJ said…
Smiling, yes! Me too. It was a good, busy summer, but far too little time or inclination to blog...

I owe you an e-mail.

:)
Queenie said…
I owe you more than one.
:)

Q
Emlyn said…
Howdy. You gave me a nice comment, way back when, and I feel guilty because I never responded because... well, I didn't know; blogger occasionally forgets to let me know when I receive a comment. So... happy blated thanks!

(And nice story, by the way....)

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