to remind myself to sit, think and write.
Here is the next Chapter.
As I walked down the driveway, sure enough Mrs. Westgate, flew by driving her beater 1998 4 door Chevy. Despite collecting on her husband's life insurance policy, she and Melody continued to live in the rented house on Cherry Street. Months ago, I asked, “Why don't you move back to Ice Glen? That way there we would be neighbors.” Their old house was still abandoned and boarded up. Melody's answer, “Too many memories.” I guess there would be.
“Hey, Sarah – wait up.”
It was Jeff, running to catch up with me. Lately I'd noticed his shoulders broadening and his voice getting deeper. Puberty hits us all. I stopped and waited. “What's up?”
“Did you study for Math? Quiz today, you know.”
This year, instead of being a latch key kid at his own monstrous house with wings and a gated driveway, Jeff was a fixture to our beastly farmhouse complete with leaning barn. At first it was on a drop in basis. Then he became a regular, to the point of pouring Molly her glass of milk and knowing where the cookie tins are kept.
Mom noticed when he was there, no homework was getting done, so she laid down the law. “Come over all you want. Eat cookies, fruit, drink milk or juice – but you will do your homework.” Not two days into the new plan and we all knew Algebra to Jeff was as welcome as mud on an Easter dress. Mom, being Mom, tutored him. It was embarrassing the way she'd light up when he walked in the house. “Any math today?” It wasn't a weird thing, between Mom and Jeff, it was a weird thing between my mom and algebra. But, when she left, he stopped studying.
“You know, they're not grading my mom. It's you, your grades. She's not coming back until...” I couldn't say it. But I knew she wouldn't be back until either Mrs. Marché made a miraculous recovery or she passed away. Mrs. Marché had no other biological family and they were closer than sisters.
Jeff broke into my timely revelation. “My grades are fine. I know what's going on.”
I scoffed, “Are you saying you're a late blooming algebra wiz?”
He didn't answer. We both knew the truth of the matter. I changed the subject. “Is your dad back? Where was he, Bangkok?”
If looks could kill, it would be my burial. “Yes, and no. He left again for London. Some marketing mix up.”
“But I thought your mom was heading for New York today.” I was just about to ask, who was home with him, when the bus pulled up to the stop and we had to run for it.
On the bus, Jeff sat with his tagging cronies, but shot me a playful glance as I squeezed into an empty seat four seats behind him. As we jostled to school, I replayed the scene of getting on the bus. Jeff's whole demeanor changed. His chest pumped up, filling his expanding shoulders. His eye lit up, as he swaggered down the aisle. He never showed them the softer side I had come to know.
Five minutes till the late bell sounded, Melody rushed past me, heading for her locker ten down on the other side of the hall.
I knew she was in the building somewhere. Her Mom dropped her off, before racing over to our house. “Where have you been?” I shouted over the hallway din.
“Mr. Cheever's office...”
The Principal, what now? “You're Jeff in drag?”
Slamming her locker door, Melody shot back, “What do you mean by that?” The immediate hallway around us went quiet.
Still going through my books, I murmured, so not to bring anymore attention to our conversation, “I mean, Mr. Cheever might as well put a revolving door on his office. My two best friends are in there constantly.”
“Well this time you've got it all wrong. I was in there getting a recommendation letter. My mom thinks I should go to Allbright's Summer Program for Girls.”
Allbright's was for brains, girls heading to college. My folks had been trying to push me to go, but I was holding out for a summer time of fun at home. Fun and Allbright's were rarely ever mentioned in the same breath. “Since when are you going there?”
“Since I got a scholarship. Come on we're going to be late for homeroom. I'll tell about it later.”
But at the end of the day, Melody wasn't of the bus. There was no face to face telling, only late night texts.
Late Night Texts
YIKES! 4 brainiacs
ans for 24?
x = 4 y= 3