Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Road

I wanted the pink knee socks. From the seat in my mother’s shopping cart I wanted them. They were soft and a little fuzzy. I didn’t ask for them. I took them from the hook and put them in my pocket without anyone seeing and when we got home I went to the living room.

The floor of the living room was bare boards. My mother liked the boards because, she said, they were wide and that meant we lived in an old house and that was better than living in a new one. There was a rug in the living room, a big one. I lifted the edge near the door that led into the dining room and then the kitchen, the part of the house where my mother usually was. I slid the pink socks under the rug and covered them. Then I pretended to find them and that’s when I showed them to my mother. “Look what the fairies brought me!” I said.

This was the house with the bare wood floors and glass in the dirt outside, the house that was up on a steep slope and looked down on the road. There weren’t any houses very close by and cars did not go by often. It was like we lived there by ourselves.

Old Tony lived across the road, on the other side, back in the woods. I went there sometimes with my mother and sometimes I went by myself, walking down the dirt pathway. Old Tony had an old van parked back there. That’s what he lived in. Beside the van he had a small table and a couple of chairs. He was an old man. He gave me sips of his beer from a can. He told me I could touch his dick one day when he had it out because he had been peeing. I stretched out one finger and touched it. It was hard underneath the skin and soft and wriggly on top.

A long ways down the road was the school I went to, an old school with three rooms: one for kindergarten, one for first grade, one for second. The school was a short distance back from the road. The road there was lined with pine trees and beneath them was a wealth of soft brown cast-off needles. My friends and I arranged the needles, heaping them up in long rows to define the rooms of our play-houses. This is the kitchen. This is the bedroom.

I hit Danny Moses by accident one morning down by the pine trees before we were called in for class. He was in the second grade. I only even knew his name because my mother knew his mother. I sat on the floor or behind a desk in kindergarten and Danny marched in with his teacher. They stood in front and the teacher asked him who did it and he pointed at me with a straight arm. I said I didn’t do anything.

We left that school in the middle of first grade to drive down to Virginia and live there instead. The first grade teacher stood next to me in front of the class and introduced me to the rows of faces staring at me."This," she said, "is Marta."

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