“Bye!” I say, quickly unbuckling my seatbelt, submitting — rather unwillingly — to Papa’s order or should I say demand. I glance briefly at Sage, his eyes meeting mine. His eyes seem to be filled with the same emotion as mine, fear. I tear my eyes away from his, disgruntled. I turn on my heels, heading towards the house. I walk briskly, my thoughts running rampant. What’s his problem? We made it under curfew. What did Sage do to piss him off? Maybe Mama knows. My pace quickens. I throw open the door.
“Mama!” My voice trails off when I realize that Mama and Marisol are standing right in front of me. We embrace for a fleeting moment. “Mama, what’s wrong with Papa? He ordered me out of the truck and demanded that I get into the house. Do you know how embarrassing that is?”
“You didn’t know?”
“I was upstairs. Don’t worry, I’ll fix this.” She gives my hand a reassuring squeeze before opening the door. She takes her leave.
“Papa!” Mama calls out from outside on the front porch, her voice becomes fainter and fainter until her voice trails off into the distance.
“Marisol, let’s go to bed. I’ll tuck you in. We don’t want to be up when Papa comes in.”
We make a mad dash upstairs; neither one of us wants to be downstairs when the fireworks go off. We turn into the bedroom. I close the door behind me. Marisol jumps into bed, her teeth already brushed, PJ’s on.
I take my folded pajamas off of my bed and I begin to undress, not wasting a moment of time.
“Get under those sheets.” I tuck in Marisol. I give her a good night kiss.
“Don’t I get a bedtime stowy?”
“Not tonight, Sunshine. It’s late. Go to sleep.”
“But, I’m not sleepy.”
I’m going to try to sneak downstairs to hear what’s going on. I try to bolt out of the room towards the top of the stairs, but running in the dark, I trip over something on the floor and I slam my head into the wall.
“Damn it!” I cry out. I turn to see Marisol coming to help as I hold my head. I grit my teeth to keep myself from cursing as I pull myself up off of the cold wooden floor. That’s what I get for trying to eavesdrop.
“Awe you all wight?” Marisol asks.
“Shh!” I put my index finger to my mouth. She covers her mouth. “I’m all right, get back into bed.” Marisol lies back down.
“Where the hell did this come from?” I mutter to myself as I examine the object that caused me to fall. It’s a stuffed animal. A raggedy old sock monkey, it looks like it took a turn or two in the washer. It has coal black buttoned eyes and a stitched mouth. I walk back over to Marisol and I hand her the monkey. I tuck her back in and give her another kiss on the forehead.
“No more leaving your toys on the floor anymore, okay?”
“I didn’t. Geowge did.”
“All right, then please ask George to pick his toys up.”
“He can heaw you.”
“Nighty-night, Sunshine. Love you, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
I quickly grab my toothbrush, apply the toothpaste, and I brush my teeth. I place the toothbrush back in its proper place and I rush towards the staircase. I only make it to the fifth step when I hear the door open. I’m hidden from view as the staircase makes an inverted, backwards L shape around the wall. Then I realize I’m screwed if Papa comes up the stairs. He’ll hear me run back up.
I hear his footsteps coming towards the stairs. Damn! I hear the stairs begin to strain under his weight. I’m about to pretend I was casually walking down the stairs to talk to him when I hear Mama call out, “Walter, what is your problem?”
I hear the stairs creak as he turns and goes back down towards Mama’s voice in the hallway. I quietly crawl back up to the top of the stairs with Trevor nipping at my heels. Even the dog doesn’t want to be near Papa when he turns into the Hulk.
“What do you mean?” Papa answers when he gets to the hall. Luckily, I can still hear as Mama is almost yelling and Papa is whispering like thunder clapping.
“You said I couldn’t make her come home from the date. You never said —”
“Marimar makes a new friend, and then you try to scare him away. She really likes him, and she needs a friend to ease her into this place.”
“Don’t go ruining the one thing that might tie her to this place. Believe it or not next year she is going to become an adult and if she doesn’t have something or somebody that ties her down to this place she’ll probably leave.” Papa tried to make a few comments but Mama is all over him. Funny, his “verbal self defense” he’s always lecturing about doesn’t seem to work on Mama.
“She has us.” Yeah, you’re really giving me a reason to stay.
“Oh, and you’re really giving her a reason to stay.” It’s like she read my mind. “You know she had her heart set on going to Oregon State like you did. That’s on the other side of the country,” she says almost in tears. Now he’s defenseless.
“Okay, all right; I’ll try to be civil to him, but that’s all I’m capable of.”
“You’re not only going to try! You are going to be nice! Hopefully you didn’t already scare him away.” The water works start. “You better not have —”
“Relax; if he’s a man then he’ll be back. If he’s not well.…”
Mama sighs, “I guess you’re right.”
“Of course, I’m right. When aren’t I?” I can think of quite a few times. “He’ll be back. He could have bailed from the date. That has to account for something. He has the balls to stick around …” Papa uttered something inaudible. I think he had said “unfortunately”. Where’s the Hulk? The fireworks? Huh?
A resonant laugh echoes down the hall making me jump.
“You should have seen his face when I had told Mar to get out, he looked like he thought I was going to kill him,” he roars with laughter. I could imagine him wiping his eyes. Oh, yeah, you’re a real riot. Why don’t I give you a round of applause? His voice reeks with mirth. What did he say to Sage?
If he messes this up … see if I bake him any sweets — his Kryptonite. Laughter rings through the house, peeling me away from my thought.
“He looked as white as a ghost,” he says chortling. Doth’ he know no shame?
Woof. Yap. Yap. Woof.
“Shut up, you stupid dog!” I clap my hand over my mouth. Did they hear that? Trevor is jumping up and down trying to get my attention. “Shh!” I rub his tummy, hoping that’ll shut him up. I can’t hear their voices anymore. Are they listening for movement upstairs? Are they going to come up and investigate? Or did they decide to continue their conversation in another room? I don’t wait to find out.
I walk back to my bedroom, blindly stumbling my way towards the bed. My eyes haven’t adjusted to the darkness in our room. Everything’s obscure. I can just make out the vague outlines of the larger objects. I crawl into bed, pulling my sheets over me.
Knowing that Papa isn’t ready to discuss anything about Sage, I decide to wait until tomorrow to ask what his deal was. Well, maybe I better just talk to Mama. Papa would just make himself sound innocent. What a night. I reminisce over the events of my first date. Sage’s face is the last picture I see in my mind before I doze off.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
“Get up sleepy head, Mama says it’s almost time fow bweakfast.”
I lift my head unwillingly from my pillow, the clock reads six. Damn, why do we all have to get up just because Papa has to go to work? It’s summer vacation for Christ’s sake! I look out the window. The heavy curtains are pulled apart revealing the bright, Texas sun.
Hiding my face into my pillow causes Marisol to relentlessly hop up and down on the bed even more vigorously.
“I’m up, I’m up,” I say irritated.
“Okay,” Marisol says cheerily as she crawls down from the bed and skips out of the room. The floorboards let out a groan every time she lands.
I feel as if I’ve been up all night; nightmares again. I feel uneasy being alone in the room. I have to stop thinking about the urban legend surrounding this house or I’ll have bags under my eyes the next time I see Sage.
I slap down my toothbrush in the cupboard. I look tired. I turn on the faucet and I cup my hands under the water. As I rinse my face soapy water runs down my forearms causing a stinging sensation. Where did that come from? Along my inner forearms are long scratches. Ow. “Must have been Trevor,” I mutter. I examine the scratches in the mirror. That’s weird, they already look infected. Somebody was busy last night scratching the crap out of me. He must have really had to go. As I examine the scratches the lights begin flickering, and then go out. The room becomes semi-dark and the flash of the terror that I had felt during my recurrent nightmares shoots through me. I dry my hands on my shirt as I quickly walk/run down the hall and descend the stairs in search of company. I’m just freaking myself out, I tell myself.
Halfway down the stairs a feeling of being chased overcomes me. I look back and see nothing, but I’m almost at a full panicked run as I turn the corner to the downstairs hall. I let out a shriek of surprise. Marisol was just coming around the corner towards me.
“What are you doing here?” I gasp.
“I’m making suwe you huwwy up.” I look behind me one more time. Nothing, I’m being paranoid.
“Did Mama send you to check on me?”
“Are you being snoopy?” I ask, playfully.
“I’m not a dog,” Marisol says, misunderstanding me. She thinks I asked her if she was acting like the beagle, Snoopy, from the Peanuts cartoon.
“You will be if you don’t stop being so nosy,” I tease.
“No I won’t,” she states as she shakes her head, her pigtails flop around like big old dog ears; giving me an idea.
“Yes you will, those pigtails of yours will turn into big floppy ears. And then you will grow a tail and worst of all, you’ll get dog breath.”
“Nah-ah,” she says a little unsure.
“Look, you already grew dog ears!”
“Ahh!” she screams as she runs to the bathroom mirror to check.
“I did not,” she declares, as she glares at me for laughing, crossing her arms.
I pass her, still laughing, as I go down the hall towards the kitchen. Marisol follows after me. I open the door to the kitchen and as I enter the smell of Papa’s cheesy potatoes becomes mouth-watering. Mmm.
Marisol and I exchange glances before we simultaneously bolt to the stove top to sneak a taste while Mama’s back is turned. My toe catches the edge of the island causing me to trip. I catch myself before I, ungracefully, do a face plant. Busted!
“Are you okay?” Mama asks. I shrug my shoulders. “Why were you running? You were trying to sneak some potatoes weren’t you?” She glances at Marisol who is reaching into the pan and cramming diced potatoes into her mouth.
“We’re hungry,” I answer with a laugh.
“Serves you right; you know I hate it when you eat before we sit down.” Mama smirks. She turns to Marisol and says, “You give some to your sister and then go help her set the table.”
Marisol grabs the napkins and I grab the forks and we head into the breakfast room and set the table. Once done, we head into the living room because breakfast isn’t quite ready.
I plop down on the couch and begin to channel surf. Nothing is on. Bored, I turn off the television and I toss the remote beside me. I hear music behind me. I look over the back of the couch and I watch as Marisol is dancing to piano music. She’s doing what looks like a combination of the nutcracker ballet and the hokey-pokey, It kind of switches back and forth. It’s cute.
I wish I was her age again. Everything was so simple then, no worries, no boyfriends. You were easily entertained; you could make up games and have imaginary friends without people thinking that you’ve lost it.
“Mama let you play with the iPod?” I ask as I try to look for it.
“If you don’t have the iPod then where’s the music coming from?”
“We don’t have a piano, silly.”
“Yes we do.” Her seriousness is freaking me out.
Don’t be stupid. There has to be a logical explanation.
Hum. Crackle. That sounds like static. I turn back to the TV. It’s still on, but it’s not on the cable channel and is showing only snow, weird. I was sure I turned it off. I must have hit the wrong button. I grab the remote and turn it off. I had just lifted my thumb off when I hear the hum of the TV turning back on. I look back down. I’m not touching any buttons and Marisol is still behind the couch.
All of a sudden I see a sooty mass hover over the television, filling the air with the smell of smoke. It hovers there for a moment and then poof. It disappears into the wall. What the hell was that?
I turn to Marisol who is still dancing like nothing happened. There seems to be no point in me asking if she had seen it.
I hear Mama calling me us. She doesn’t have to ask me twice.
“Coming!” I want out of here now. “Marisol, let’s go show Mama your dance.” She perks up and willfully follows me.
It was all in your head, it was all in your head, I chant.
We reach the kitchen. I reach down to grab the first two plates of food. Hesitantly, I leave the safety of numbers to set down the plates in the breakfast room. I race back into the room and I grab another set of plates. The faster I get this job done the sooner I can return to this safe haven.
“STOP!” Mama shouts. I freeze in place. “Marimar Filomena Utt, you better not be running with those plates. You’re going to drop all of that food on the floor and your Papa will be irate.” She flashes a swift look at Papa who had just re-entered the room. He’s totally zoned out, dancing/listening to his music coming from the iPod dock while placing the cheese back into the refrigerator. “You should know better.” I smile apologetically. Basically, she’s saying I’m clumsy.
My thoughts drift to the raw bump on the top of my head hidden under my hair, good thing too. If Mama and Papa noticed it I’d never hear the end of this. I’m not that clumsy. I’m not always tripping, falling, etc. At least not on a daily basis, it’s just now and then. I didn’t trip once on my date … that has to say something.
“Okay, I apologize.” I kiss her on the cheek before exiting the kitchen. I place the plates down in their proper place.
I am about to re-enter the kitchen when I hear the tinkling of the chandelier. I turn around and see that the plates have all been switched around, the silverware is cluttered together in the middle of the table, and the napkins are folded upright. Just like the other day. But this time the chandelier is violently gyrating and the table and the chairs are vibrating. A black nebulous mass creeps in from the large open window smothering all of the sun-rays. The birds outside give out a warning call before falling silent. The air in the room thickens and it becomes hard to breathe. The room becomes suddenly drained of all its warmth. The black mass begins to surround the whole room.
I hear the door open and Papa steps into the room. Voilà, the ominous mass vanishes out the window. Light fills the room again; the birds start up their song. You have got to be kidding me.
“What are you staring at?” Papa asks.
“I-I was just looking at the red cardinal,” I manage to stammer.
“Mmm-hmm. Sit down, we’re going to eat.”
We sit down in our usual seating and we eat, or they do anyways. I’m too scared out of my wits — if I have any that is. I’m beginning to question my sanity. I mean if there was actually something in this house then everybody else would have noticed something too.
Maybe my hormones are out of whack. I can’t rule that out as a possibility. I’m a sixteen-year-old girl and maybe this is some kind of psychological way that my brain is processing my stress. Moving did cause me a lot of stress. I had to leave my school, my home, and now here I am in a small town which I hate. And to top it all off, I don’t know where I stand with Sage. Are we to be girlfriend and boyfriend or just friends? I have a lot on my plate, that’s for sure. My thoughts are disrupted because Mama’s reminding me to eat.
I sink my teeth into the crunchy/chewy flesh of the potatoes, tasting the creamy sharp flavor of the cheese and the caramel essence of the onions, yum. My taste buds are practically in heaven or would be if my mind wasn’t in hell.
The only noise I can hear are the utensils clanging against the china and the faint distant music flowing in from the kitchen. Papa forgot to turn off the iPod. Everybody is too into their food to strike up a conversation, fine by me. My mind is preoccupied by other thoughts. I drop my fork. I reach down to grab it and I see Trevor nuzzling Sunshine’s leg, begging for some table scraps. She slips him a little handful. I really shouldn’t let her but I relent anyways, letting her slip him a little morsel of her potatoes. The dog’s getting fat. His belly’s protruding and his collar’s becoming quite snug. I don’t know why she keeps slipping him stuff; we already give him our leftovers.
I sit upright. Finally, Papa decides that he would like to talk.
“So, what are you two going to do today?” he asks, eyeing me. The underlying question is am I going to be seeing Sage. My fury over the way he acted last night with Sage manages to replace my fears. I’m still so highly pissed over what he did last night that it takes all my restraint to hide my anger. But I manage to anyways, barely. I clear my voice, removing all the venom from my tone before I respond.
“I don’t have any plans.” Because you ruined them, I think to myself. But I don’t dare say so. Even though I’m holding back my rage, I can feel the heat of the anger rising into my face.
Mama catches that and prods Papa to speak. He huff’s out a sigh and says rather unwillingly, “I apologize about what happened last night. I should have handled the situation a lot better. And don’t worry about that kid, umm, Sam —”
“Sage,” I correct him.
“Whatever, anyways, if he really likes you I’m sure he will come back.” That was the end of that conversation.
“Well, how do you guys like the food?” Mama asks to lighten the mood.
“It’s delicious. Thank you Mama, Papa.”
“Yep, it’s vewy good,” Marisol says while bouncing in her seat like she always does when she enjoys what she’s eating. She scoops up a big fork full of food and proceeds to gorge herself with it. Papa was so anxious about starting his new job today that he got up early and made the type of big breakfast that is usually reserved for Saturday mornings when he cooks brunch as we all sleep in “till the crack of noon” as he says.
After breakfast I pick up the plates and proceed to wash them. The whole time I find that I’m looking over my shoulder for something to happen. The anticipation is maddening. It only took five minutes until I was done with the last dish; it was easy since all I had to do was place them in the dishwasher.
I head toward the living room to watch TV. I figure that the mass could enter any room so it would be senseless to avoid one in particular. I just get comfortable and find something to watch when Mama walks in.
She walks over from behind me and plants a gentle kiss on my head.
“Hi Mamí, I need to talk to you. You know that your Papa is really sorry about last night?” I nod assent. And you know you’re not fooling anybody, right?
“Last night when you were pulling out to go on your date Papa recognized Sage’s truck to be the same one that had almost killed us. So as you can imagine, he went into a rage. He wanted to hop in the minivan and go after him and it was all I could do to get him to allow you to stay out on the date. You know how over protective he is. It started when we were first dating and he noticed men were always following me. He said that it was because I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I think that’s why I married him.” Where are you going with this, Mama? “Anyways, I made him promise to be civil to Sage.”
“I hope so. I recognized the truck too, but don’t worry, I talked to him about it. He was reading a text from his boss. He received a very expensive ticket, which he’s still paying off. He realized how dangerous it was and he said he would never do it again.”
Mama pauses trying to collect her thoughts. “About Sage, I just want you to know not to worry. He’ll be back. I know that in your last school you had trouble making friends, but I’m sure you won’t have any trouble making friends here,” she says encouragingly.
“Thank you, Mama. That helps,” I respond politely. What was that supposed to mean?
“You’re welcome, Mamí,” she says as she hugs my neck and kisses my cheek. “Now I have to go let Trevor back in, he’s been scratching on the back door for a while,” she says as she turns to leave.
I mull through the conversation in my mind for a bit. What does she mean I had trouble making friends? I chose not to have any. After all, why would I want to be friends with the people that didn’t like me? Besides, I did have a few friends and it didn’t work out most of the time. And I don’t see how that was any of my fault, they were two-faced bitches who acted like I was the problem because their boyfriends were always trying to talk to me. I wasn’t even interested in any of those immature high school boys. I always advised my girlfriends that they needed to make better choices in boyfriends. But that always seem to come back to bite me in the ass. They all insisted on chasing after the jerks.
My train of thought is interrupted when I hear Papa yell from upstairs, “Marimar, did you do the dishes?”
“No, they did themselves!”
“Marimar!” Papa warns.
“Just kidding!” I yell back.
“You better be!”
Someone has some thin skin. I better lay off the sarcasm with Papa and Mama. Sage is another matter.
Papa should be leaving. “Come on, Sunshine, let’s go say good-bye.” We head to the door and watch as Papa rushes down the stairs while tying his tie. Mama meets him at the door and tweaks his tie into place.
“Kiss me good-bye, girls.” We comply. We watch as Papa kisses Mama at the threshold, walks to the minivan, and leaves as we wave good-bye.
We race back to the couch to watch some more TV as Mama locks up the front door. Where is the remote? I turn and see Marisol quietly watching the screen that is playing a little fairy movie. Every so often she turns whispering to Gabriella, or is it George? Oh man, she beat me to it. If I stay I’ll have to watch this whole movie with her and her friends. Forget it, I might as well go back to my room and go listen to some music on my iPod. Lincoln Park, here I come. I exit out of the living room into the hall and I head up the stairs holding onto the railing, so that I don’t trip again.
I walk across the room over to the dresser where my iPod’s lying. My earbuds are plugged in. I pop my earbuds into my ear before I flop onto the bed. I sprawl out on the bed, my head rested on the pillow. I search on my playlist for Lincoln Park and put on The Catalyst. I close my eyes and begin to relax.
The iPod is rested on my stomach, my cell phone in my right hand is on vibrate, just in case someone tries to call me … okay, Sage. Wait a minute … That’s weird? I open my eyes and find that the song isn’t turned on. Huh, I was sure that I had put it on. I hit play, but all I can hear is static. What in the world is going on?
I hit play again and this time the iPod skips onto another song, Faint. Stupid iPod. BUZZZZZ! I jump. Stupid cell phone. I put pause on the iPod; I rip the earbuds out of my ears. I read the caller-i.d., it reads Sage. I wait a couple of seconds so that I don’t look too desperate and then I flip the phone open.
“Hey, what’s up?” Nice, keep it casual.
“N-nothing much. Hey listen … is your dad home by any chance?”
“He’s at work. He shouldn’t be home until like, six-thirty. Why?”
“Good. Well, I was wondering if I could come over. I’d like to give ya something if that’s cool with you?” Is this guy crazy or what? I don’t know if he has guts or if he’s just stupid. Perhaps he’s just suicidal — Papa would be fuming if he knew he was going to step into this house again. But who cares, whether he’s both crazy and suicidal it doesn’t matter to me. All I care about is that I like him and he likes me enough to risk another encounter with Papa.
“Sure.” I wonder what he’s bringing.
“Do you mind if I bring my little brother with me? I was thinking that maybe, if it was cool with your Mom, Oscar and Marisol could have a playdate.”
“That’d be great, Marisol would love that.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Cool.” I’m hoping I don’t sound like I’m pining. “Bye.” I hang up the phone. Good thing Papa left or I’d have to hide all the guns. That reminds me, I should go warn Mama that he’s coming, but I’m too lazy to get up. She is already dressed and I really don’t think she’ll mind. On the other hand, I better make sure Papa isn’t coming home for lunch.
I re-enter the room after giving Mama a heads up on Sage. I go back to listening to my music. I lie back down on the bed, close my eyes, and push play on the iPod. The volume is low enough so that the music won’t blow my eardrums out. I hear another voice which doesn’t seem to be coming from the earbuds. I can’t tell who it is, nor can I decipher what they’re saying. It’s probably Marisol talking in the hall.
Wham. Something kicks the side of my bed.
“Marimar, Marimar. I’m talking to you, Marimar.” I hear faintly through the music.
I sit up on the bed as I open my eyes. I take an earbud out.
“Yes?” No answer. Marisol must be messing with me. I lay back down to relax.
“Very funny, Sunshine,” I say without bothering to open my eyes. Wham. She kicked it again. I open my eyes but again nobody is to be seen. I push pause on the iPod and place it down on the bed. “Marisol?” I lift the covers as I hang over the bed and check underneath it, I find nothing but dust bunnies. Nope. I check the armoire. “She’s not in here either,” I mumble under my breath. I walk into the hall and I call out by the staircase to Marisol.
“I’m wight hewe,” she says as her head appears while walking up the stairs with her sock-monkey under her arm.
“Sunshine, how did you get there so fast?”
“Weren’t you in our bedroom?”
“Are you suwe, I mean sure?”
“I’m suwe, I was downstaiws.”
“Okay, thank you.”
I turn back into my room and lay down on the bed; must have been all in my head. Can’t I ever get any peace? I put the earbuds back on and I press play.
I WON’T BE IGNORED! The song screeches so loud that I violently tear the earbuds out of my ears, causing me to accidentally roll off the bed; crashing onto the floor all the while holding my ears, my muscles tensed.
“Ouch!” I exclaim. I nailed my head on the nightstand. What in the hell just happened? Did I accidentally put the volume up? No, I couldn’t have. I had only pushed the play button. I never touched the volume. I open my eyes and I’m still lying on the ground. I pick up my head in a quick motion only to return it softly away from the stand and onto the floor; my hand lying underneath it.
“Ooohh.” My head. It feels as if blood is seeping through my skull. Damn it. I hope that I don’t have to go to the hospital. As clumsy as I am, not once have I ever visited a hospital emergency room and now of all days I might break my hospital free record. Hold on a second. I don’t feel any blood, but it sure is raw. I’ll have to sleep on my side tonight.
Knock, knock. Woof, Woof. I enter the hall and walk down the stairs, warily, my head aching. Mama’s already opened the door. Sage is wearing his usual attire. The only difference in his appearance is his curly hair is combed back. One hand is hidden behind his back and the other is holding Oscar’s hand — Oscar is standing in the same manner as his brother.
I attempt to descend the stairs elegantly, like you see in the movies. Unfortunately I’m still a little off balance from my injury and I find myself occasionally stumbling and looking more like a klutz than a Southern belle. Sage staring at me and obviously trying not to laugh each time I waver isn’t helping.
“Here ma’am, these are for you.” Sage releases Oscar’s hand and with that same hand he grabs something from behind his back and presents Mama with a bouquet of flowers.
“Oh, how thoughtful,” Mama says taking a whiff. “Mmm, they smell as pretty as they look. Thank you.”
“It was my pleasure. These are for you,” Sage says, handing me a bouquet of crimson roses. “I saw them and they reminded me of you,” he says before flashing me a stunning smile. “I remember you saying they’re your favorite.”
“Yes they are.” I can’t believe he remembered. He gets even cuter by the minute. How is that possible? “Thank you.” I bury my face into the flowers hoping that they can conceal my blush.
Marisol is on her tip-toes bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, with Trevor struggling in her arms, waiting impatiently for her present. She tries to look around Oscar but he presses his back against the wall, keeping her from peeking.
“Ah,ah,ah. No peeking,” Sage says. Marisol plops herself on the floor and begins to rub Trevor’s head in a way that reminds me of the character Lennie in Mice and Men. “Close your eyes and hold out your hands. Don’t open your eyes until I tell ya to,” Sage instructs. She giggles expectantly as she releases poor Trevor.
Oscar pulls out from behind his back a plush teddy bear, which he then carefully places in her hands.
“Okay, now open them,” Oscar says sweetly. Her eyes light up like candles. She gives Oscar a wide toothy grin — well sort of — before giving him a bear hug.
“Glad you like it,” Oscar says, well pleased. Mama and I exchange glances as to say, “How cute”.
We walk into the living room. I sit on the sofa closest to the armrest. Marisol is about to plant her rear in the middle of the sofa when Mama, who just came back from putting her flowers into a vase, suggested that she and Oscar go play in my bedroom which sends them scurrying up the stairs. It’s not until Sage sits beside me that I realize that her seemingly innocent gesture was not so pure.
Mama or should I call her match-maker, has managed to get Oscar and Marisol out of the room. Nice. Mama and Papa seem to be living on different planets in the daughter dating world. Man, would this scene boil his blood. But I’m not complaining, she did do me a favor. I’m set on asking Sage what exactly happened and apologizing for what took place yesterday.
The only problem is that I can’t do that with Mama present. I have no doubt Sage will probably downplay the situation to me, but with Mama in the room he’ll be sure to clam up. Mama’s just standing there looking at us with this sentimental gaze. I can tell Sage is starting to feel awkward; he’s shifting in his seat. I have to get rid of her. I turn my body so that I’m facing Sage and I ask, “Would you like anything? Food? Drink? Water?”
“No, I’m fine. Thanks.”
“Nonsense, you must want something?” Mama says, catching my gist.
“No, I’m fi —”
Mama shoots him a disapproving look.
“Water would be great, please, thank you, ma’am.” He’s finally catching on.
“I’ll go get it for you.”
Mama hastily walks into the kitchen leaving us alone. Now’s my chance,
“Hey, about yesterday, I’m sorry about Papa. I had a great time.”
“Don’t sweat it, nothing happened, your dad just wanted to talk to me. No hard feelings.”
That’s not what I heard. I expected this much. Commencing Plan B.
“Do you want a shovel for that bullshit?”
“I said, do you want a shovel for that bull-shit. You already have the boots on for it.” Could I be blunter? That seemed to trigger some reaction. Sage scoffs; his countenance is menacing, but in some weird way, it’s kind of attractive.
“I don’t think you would really want to hear what went on, or my honest opinion. So let’s leave it at that.” Damn, that was intense.