I didn’t want her to notice I’d smuggled food to the pantry. I left the usual assortments of plastic dishes in their grocery bags on the table. Real dishes didn’t last long here.
If she didn’t see something, I’d never hear the end of it. I put the receipt in the cookie jar, under the stack of snickerdoodles to give Uncle Jared when he brought our monthly allowance.
Backtracking to the front door, I opened it softly and jerked it shut. The bang echoed throughout the empty house and I heard the sound of pattering feet as they raced to meet me.
Five-year-old Sally flung herself at my legs, crying. I couldn’t make out a word she said as ten-year-old Adrian, silently surveyed me from the hallway, scowling. Lulu stretched her arms upwards with the innocence of a three-year-old.
“Lulu!” I scooped her up, planting a kiss on her chubby cheek before sestting her down. “Were you good today?” Lulu’s tangled curls bobbed in reply as I bent to hug Sally. “Shhh! You okay?”
I pulled a handful of peppermints from my pocket, dividing it equally, holding out the remainder to Adrian. He wearily accepted the treat.
“She’s upstairs.” He grunted in answer to my unspoken question. “Out cold.”
I pressed my lips together, fumbling for a smile. “I bought bread and stuff. Go make some sandwiches, quick.”
Adrian shuffled off, the girls trailing behind.
I took the stairs two at a time, cat-quiet. A peek through Mom’s bedroom door was sufficient. She was out cold, the six-pack on the bed saying more than the messy bedroom. She’d started drinking when Dad died.
I pulled the door shut, heading for the sanctuary of my own room. Rifling through my backpack, I pulled my English homework. “Write a one-page essay on the topic, what makes a mother special.”
Wrestling my folder from between the textbooks, I rummaged for a pencil. Settling atop of the mountain of laundry beside my bedroom window, I rested my head on the cool glass.
There are many things that make mothers special. The three main things are hugs, kisses and dinner.
First, hugs, because when things go wrong, a hug can make it better. Sometimes hugs say more than words. It can stop your heart from hurting.
Screams erupted from downstairs. I paused in mid-scribble. “Lulu!” I staggered to my feet, seconds too late.
Mom’s voice boomed through the humid air. “What is that racket?”
The noise quieted almost instantly as I scrambled for the bedroom door. Mom was already down the stairs and halfway into the kitchen before I caught up.
Adrian brushed past, hustling the girls ahead of him before Mom could stop them. She didn’t seem to notice, instead, her attention was drawn to the table.
Mom rifled through the grocery bags before her ugly temper surfaced. “Where’s tha rest of ‘em?” She whirled to glare at me.
“There wasn’t a lot of…them.” I inched away from the doorway.
“Where’s tha beer?” She demanded. “I gave ya plenty cash.”
“I-I was short.” I stammered, willing my tired feet to move. “There wasn’t enough money.”
I saw the slap coming before I felt it. The fiery explosion on my face was enough to make my feet move. I was upstairs and locked in my room before the tears came.
Trembling, I settled onto the pile of laundry, picking up the pencil.
Next, kisses. Mothers kiss away your tears and make the hurts better. When your world is falling apart. A kiss makes you feel loved.
I heard her yell and scream before something crashed below.
Minutes later, Adrian tapped on my room door, the girls in tow. I let them in, locking the door behind us.
Lulu crawled into my lap the moment I sat down. Sally touched my cheek. “Are you okay, Sissy?”
Adrian peered over my shoulder. “Homework.” I explained, dodging Sally’s sticky fingers and scooting Lulu off my lap.
“Hungry!” Lulu whined, pulling my folder away.
I looked at Adrian. “Not enough time.” He explained, jamming his fists in his pockets. “Lulu hates grape jelly.”
“It was the only one on sale.” I looked at the paper. “Give me a minute-”
Finally, a mother can cook all sorts of things, even desserts like cakes and pudding. She always makes dinner.
In conclusion, there are many things that make mothers special. It is too bad that ones like these do not exist.
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