In honor of my Grandfather’s 99th birthday this week, I’m sharing a short section of my book with you.
Maddie, age 5
Grandpa is so funny. He acts like he’s mean, but I know he isn’t. Mean people don’t feed all of the stray dogs in the neighborhood or hang feeders for the pretty birds that come visit us when the snow melts.
He just wants people to think he’s mean. His secret is safe with me. I’m learning to keep lots of secrets.
We don’t talk about Mommy or her home at the Castle or the other place where she is moving with those weird people with lots of kids.
Grandpa grabs Ming Ming and Chi Chi, our stinky dogs, and puts them into the truck. Grandpa loves this old truck. He calls her Scout. I guess that’s her real name because it’s written on the inside of the car. Kinda like my name is on my backpack and my jacket when I go to school.
Today, we are going to check on the camp. It’s really just a trailer, but it’s our home during the summer. Grandma, Grandpa, and I live there all summer long. I even get out of school a week early this year so we can head up to camp. Mrs Miller, my teacher, says it’s okay because I already know how to read and can do math in my head. I’m not sure what she means, but I like words and I like numbers.
I’ll miss Mrs. Miller. Grandpa tells me that I’ll have a different teacher next year. I wish I could stay with her forever. She shares her sandwiches with me and my tummy doesn’t hurt when I’m in her class.
The dogs have their heads out the window of the truck, so I try it too. The wind is stronger than I thought it would be. I stick out my tongue and it gets dry really fast. I pull my head back into the truck, take a gulp of orange soda then try it again.
It’s fun. I might like to be a dog some day. They seem to have it pretty easy.
After driving past the river and the gas station that used to be there, but now is boarded up, I know that we are about five ABC’s away from the store where Grandpa likes to get a Pepsi and a snack. I act like I don’t notice how far we’ve come.
In my head, I sing my ABC’s really slowly. I like to guess how far we are and I really can’t stand it when I’m wrong.
Does that mean we aren’t supposed to pee or that the person who made the song accidentally peed? That part is a little confusing to me, but I figure it isn’t that important.
Two ABC’s down. The road just winds and winds. I’m so glad that I’m in the front seat because when Grandma comes on these trips, I always feel like I’m going to be sick. It isn’t because of Grandma. Well, not entirely. The smoke from her cigarettes does make my eyes and throat hurt,but it’s really from being in the back. Grandma says I get car sick easier than anyone she’s ever met.
Luckily I don’t hav to worry about it today. It’s just Grandpa, the dogs, and me!
I’m on my fourth ABC, so I slow down the letters to make it past the dam. The water rushes so fast that it scares me. I know some of the kids talk about diving off it, but I think they are only kidding…or crazy….either way, that’s not something I would ever do. I don’t even like to swim in the lake where it’s warmer and calmer. I don’t like thinking about what else is in the water with me. Plus, I really can’t swim. Something about getting my arms and legs to work together long enough to move just doesn’t work for me.
I see the store around the corner, so I hurry up and finish my last ABC song. Yes, it was exactly five sets. I love to count things and feel really good when I guessed the number correctly.
Grandpa pulls up to the gas station and the attendant slowly comes over to fill up the tank.
Grandpa leaves the window open a little bit for the dogs even though it isn’t really hot or cold outside.
“Come on, Skinny Minnie. Let’s go bullshit the bullshitter.”
Grandpa loves to talk to the old man who owns the station. He loves to act like he doesn’t like it at all.
Why are grown ups so good at pretending to be one way when they are really something completely different? It’s so confusing to me. I wonder if there’s an age I’ll get when it all makes sense to me.
I kinda hope not.