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Jake’s life has turned upside down. His mom is gone and he and his Dad are living in a smelly house. Now, Jake has done something wrong and he doesn’t
know what to do. Should he tell his father? Or, keep it a secret?
If you'd like to preview the first two scenes of Getting Home and let me know what you think, that would be great!!!
Liam sat drumming his fingers on the table, watching the clock. He'd known that she'd be late. The librarian had given him the same private room as last time. It was on the first floor, and it had a large window that looked out on the library's entrance. Liam could see her coming down the campus path, walking quickly with her head down. She had on a tuque, and strands of bright red hair poked out from the hat's bottom. She had on the same brown quilted jacket that she'd worn the last time. As he watched her rush in through the front door, Liam hoped that this would go better than their first interview.
Seconds later, Tillie threw open the door, stepped into the room and then shut the door way too hard for a library. Liam winced.
Tillie smiled apologetically and started to explain, “I'm sorry I'm late but....”
Liam held up his hand. Tillie stopped talking and her smiled faded.
Liam pulled out a chair, “I don't mean to be rude, but I don't really care why you're late. I just want to get this over with.”
Tillie set her book bag down on the floor and took off her jacket. She took off the tuque and shook her head. She had the brightest red hair Liam had ever seen. Her hair was fairly short; the ringlets stopped about chin-length. She was wearing a faded t-shirt with grease spots all over it, and a pair of jeans.
Liam wrinkled his nose, “What is that smell?”
Tillie looked chagrined, “That's what I wanted to tell you. I didn't have time to change. I was working in the dish room at the cafeteria, and it's impossible not to get liquefied
food and garbage juice all over yourself. It's really quite gross. Sorry.”
Liam shook his head, “Did you talk to your mother?”
Tillie's expression changed and her voice was soft, “Yes. I spoke with her yesterday.” Tillie seemed lost in thought and Liam tried not to show his impatience when he asked, “Well?”
Tillie's pale blue eyes rested on him and she said, “Oh, yeah. She said it was OK to tell you. She just asked that you treat our story with respect.”
Liam rolled his eyes. Why did he have to be paired up with the only sophomore in their creative writing class? Everyone else in the class was a senior. Liam had groaned when Dr. Julius handed out the biography assignment with their partner's name listed at the top. Dr. Julius said he had made an effort to match up people who appeared to have little in common, or to not know each other well. That way the interview and the biography would be objective, fresh. He'd certainly succeeded in Liam's case. In this very private, very preppy school, where nearly everyone's family had money, Liam had landed the one student who was clearly on financial aid and actually worked in the cafeteria. Liam shook his head, just his luck. Then, at their first meeting, Tillie had refused to tell Liam any more than the basics about her family. Her mother is an artist. Her stepfather is a pastor at a church nearby, and the family lives behind the church. She has three much younger brothers, and while she has known her stepfather almost since birth, her mother hadn't married him until Tillie was 5. She'd been the flower girl for their wedding. And, that was it. Nothing more. Liam had become frustrated with Tillie, but she wouldn't budge. She said the real story was her mother's and that she wasn't going to share it until she got her okay. She said her story was really about her mother and her aunt; it started when they met.
At this point, Liam put his head in his hands and asked,“Your mother's sister?”
Tillie had nodded.
Liam asked sarcastically, “Well, didn't they meet like most sisters? You know, one of them comes home from the hospital and the rest is history?”
Tillie furrowed her brow and shook her head. Stubborn.
So, Liam had agreed to wait until the next interview, until tonight. This had better not be some sappy sob story about how rough she's had it, he thought to himself. Tillie started.
Mattie stopped washing the kitchen table and listened.
“Fucking A,” she heard again.
Startled, Mattie crossed into her small living room and looked out her front picture window; the sidewalk in front of her house was empty.
Suddenly, she heard a howl of rage and then, “FUCKING BIKE!!!”
Praying that Ruby would stay sleeping, Mattie hurried out the front door and was blasted by the humid, hot air. Once again, she silently thanked her father-in-law for installing the central air conditioning. It seemed there wasn’t a day this summer that she hadn’t been grateful for it, and for him. Mattie peered up and down the sidewalk. She saw no one. She cocked her head to listen, and sure enough, “FUCKING BIKE!” came from the side of her house. Mattie walked carefully and cautiously past her peony bushes and peeked around the house. Squatting in the driveway beside a small tricycle was a tiny, dirty, black-haired, naked child. The naked child stood up and angrily kicked the tricycle, which apparently was not cooperating.
Having connected with the rusty bike’s front tire, the child began screaming and crying, “I HATE THIS STUPID FUCKING BIKE,” while she hopped around on one foot.
The little girl abruptly stopped hopping and yelling. She leaned her face close to the tricycle’s seat.
Barely audible, she whispered, “Are you hurt?” as she picked something up.
The little girl lifted her hand to her own face, and Mattie could see a butterfly sitting on the tip of one grubby finger. The little girl gently kissed it and smiled as it flew away. As she watched the butterfly, she noticed Mattie standing there.
She put her hands on her hips, and growled “What are you doing here?”
Mattie was so stunned at her nakedness and certainty, she couldn’t even answer. “Well?” demanded the small child “What are you doing here?”
Mattie started to grin, “I could ask you the same question.”
“I am trying to get this fucking bike to work. And I hurt my toe.”
And the little girl started to cry.
Mattie asked, “Can I see your toe?”
The little girl slowly nodded her head; she watched Mattie carefully as she approached. Mattie inspected the toe while the child inspected her.
Mattie said, “How about I go inside and get some medicine for your toe and a Band-Aid?”
“Can I come?” the little girl asked.
“I’m not sure your mother would like you going into a stranger’s house, would she? Especially when you have no clothes on.”
The little girl looked down at her small, dirty, naked body and shrugged. “Oh, she’s passed out; she won’t wake up till later.”
The little girl, somehow limping and strutting at the same time, made her way to Mattie’s front door. Mattie followed, shaking her head in disbelief at this confident ball of fury and suppressed a chuckle as the child strained and reached, trying to work the door latch. Fearing another round of cussing, Mattie gently put her hand on top of the child’s and helped her press the latch.
Mattie could hear the girl catch her breath as the air conditioning hit her.
“Wow, this feels great!”
Mattie helped the little girl up on a kitchen chair and knelt in front of her. “OK, first things first, what is your name?”
The little girl looked Mattie straight in the eye with startling blue eyes, a shade Mattie had only seen in her own daughter’s eyes.
“My name is Gracie Jo, and I am 4 years old.”
Gracie Jo raised her eyebrows at Mattie, and Mattie returned the information,
“My name is Mattie, and I am 28 years old.”
“My mom is 35. Do you have kids?”
Mattie smiled. “I have a little girl named Ruby; she’ll turn 4 next month”.
Gracie Jo’s eyes lit up and she asked, “Where is she?”
“She’s taking a nap.”
Drawing herself up, Gracie Jo declared, “My mom says naps are for babies, and I’m not a baby.”
“Well, that might be so, but Ruby gets really tired and sad if she doesn’t get a nap. And by the way, if Ruby wakes up, please don’t say that bad word around her; she’s not allowed to say it.”
“What bad word?”
“You know, the one you were yelling outside, the one about the bike?”
Gracie Jo frowned, “Oh, do you mean, stupid or fucking?”
“Um” said Mattie as calmly as she could, “I guess I mean both. I don’t like Ruby using those words.”
Gracie Jo stared at Mattie and thought for a few seconds, “So what does she say when she gets really pissed off?”
Mattie cringed. “I try to get her to say, 'I’m really mad because my bike isn’t working.'”
Gracie Jo shrugged her shoulders, “I bet that doesn’t feel as good as ‘fucking bike’.”
“Will you try not to say it in front of her, Gracie Jo?” Mattie asked firmly.
Gracie Jo nodded and stuck out her foot to remind Mattie why they’d come inside. Mattie went to the cupboard above the sink that was assigned to home-made remedies, bandages, creams and stickers. Mattie took down some cream, a Band-Aid and a cloth. Mattie wet the cloth and knelt in front of Gracie Jo again. She gently wiped the dirt away from the big toe’s wound and then blew on it to dry it. Gracie Jo giggled with delight. Mattie put cream on the toe and stretched the band-aid as best she could across the scrape.
“Toes are tough to bandage, so why don’t you sit still for a few minutes until the cream soaks in. Are you hungry?”
Gracie Jo patted her filthy tummy. “Yes, I haven’t had breakfast yet. I ate some cookies this morning. Mom says cookies aren’t really breakfast food, but they were all I could find.”
Mattie looked at the clock; it was three o'clock.
She tried not to sound sad when she asked, “Do you like grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup?”
Gracie Jo squealed and wiggled her bare bottom on Mattie's kitchen chair, “That’s my
“If I got some of Ruby’s shorts, would you put them on for me while I cook?” Mattie asked hopefully.
“Sure. And would you get me a shirt, too? I’m freezing in here.”