Friday, February 26, 2010

Chapter XIX. Afterglow


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Terry slept in after the big day. He felt so good about not making any mistakes. It was great having Dad, Mom, Philip, and Kathy there. He laughed to himself. They were sure surprised that I could do something like that. Well, I don't know whether I like that or not. Still he had the glow and just lingered awhile under the warm sheets.

Ordinarily, he had to get up early every morning for his paper route, but Philip volunteered to do it for him. It was nice having Phil back in the house. Sometimes they even had one of those big brother, little brother talks.

"Terry," Mom called from the kitchen. "Time to get up...even for you," she added.

Terry noticed the joy in her voice. He dressed in his dungarees and flannel shirt. He passed his dad's room and saw with satisfaction that he was not in bed. Terry was glad that the excitement and the cold weather of last evening hadn't been too much for him. He hadn't heard coughing in the night, either. Maybe his prayers were being heard and Dad was getting better.

"Today, I thought we would get in the car and look for a bed for Dad, for the living room," Mrs. Raymond said when Terry entered the kitchen. "Then he can see us and be in the group, even when he doesn't feel well. Philip will stay here. Maybe he and Dad can join us at Bernies Restaurant and we'll all have dinner out. How does that sound? It will be sort of a celebration of your gym show last night."

"That sounds great. Only I thought Dad was doing better. Where is he? He wasn't in bed."

"Sometimes he is better, but he has some bad spells, too once in awhile when you're not here. He's at the doctor. He may get new medicine. But I'm determined that he will not spend all his time upstairs, away from us. So that's why we're getting a nice, pretty, comfy bed for down here."

* * *

Dr. Quentin,

We had a great time getting a bed for Dad. We picked out a nice dark wood frame called mahogany and Mom got soft mattresses and a cool brown bedspread. We ate at Bernies and I had a hamburger and even a milkshake. That was good. We came home and Dad started coughing right away. He went to bed, while Philip and Mom and I got his downstairs bed ready. It looked nice in the corner of the living room, right under our Home Sweet Home picture. Dad got out of his bed, went to his new one and he fell asleep. I suppose that was the idea.

Mom doesn't tell me anything. She doesn't want to worry me I guess. How can I not worry? I hate it that Dad is bad when I'm away. I know it isn't my fault, but why do I feel guilty? There's not much I can do, but I still want to do something. Mary's dad is a preacher. He seems real nice. Maybe I can talk to him and see if I can figure this thing out.

I'm glad everyone liked my tumbling last night, but if something happens to Dad, and I just stand around here like a dunce, I don't think I'm good for much. There must be something I can do.


* * *

The ambulance came at two o'clock a.m. Terry heard the siren and was startled out of a very peaceful sleep. Dad was taken to the hospital nearly unable to breathe. Terry spent the rest of the night curled up on the new bed, crying and feeling forlorn.

(What will happen to Terry's father? Will Terry figure out a way to help? Come back next Friday and see.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chapter XVIII. The Star


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


(Terry had to leave Havenward to practice for the gym show. Let's see how he does.)

Butch sat with his parents at the gymnasium. He looked around for his friends. Jimmy and his parents were looking for a seat. Butch waved them over. "Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Falcon, how are you?"

Mr. Falcon looked at Butch and sat down without smiling. Mrs. Falcon said, "Butch, Frieda, George. We're excited to see Terry do his acrobatics. Have you seen his parents?"

"We just got here," Butch said. He looked around some more. He spied Mr. and Mrs. Raymond walking along the far end of the gym. The place was starting to fill up. Butch waved wildly at them.

"Butch, for heavens' sake. Let the Raymond's sit where they want. Don't look like an idiot." Mrs. McNeil said.

The Raymonds sat down on the bench on the first row. They were focused straight ahead. Philip and his little sister, Kathy, were there, too.

From the far corner of the gym, a small band began to play a march and the tumbling team ran in and lined up. Terry was about in the middle, height wise. They all wore white shorts and white tee shirts with the school name, Elsbeth Elementary, written on them. The program started with the pledge to the flag, and then an announcement of greeting by the principal and the location of refreshments afterwards.

An official checked the mats and placed a small device called a trampolette at the front of the first one. Mrs. Osgood, the gym teacher, had a teen aged assistant lay down on his back about half way down the mat. A very small girl gymnast walked up. She made a short run, jumped with both feet on the trampolette, put her hands on the teenager's knees, and he carried her over with a perfect landing on her feet. Several other small athletes repeated this maneuver. An older group did mid-air turns between the jump and the landing.

The mini-tramp was taken away and a girl went up to the mat. She had her run, did four handsprings in a row and landed on her feet. Then Terry came up and took a run. He did seven handsprings and just managed to land on his feet at the end. The audience loved it all and clapped heartily.

At intermission, Butch looked abound and saw Mary and her parents show up. "Sorry we were late. Daddy had to help one of his people at church. Mom said I had to wait. What did I miss?"

"Terry was so good." Butch said. "They were all great."

Mary looked at her mom and dad sideways, a move Butch knew was on the sly. He knew she dared not glare at them, though she would have liked to. "Maybe he'll do better stunts in the second half," she said.

The gymnasts returned. The crown watched as a large trampoline was set up in the middle of the gym. A group of gymnasts stood around the sides to protect the jumpers. When it was Terry's turn to jump on the trampoline, he did some sits and turns. Then he bounced and did a forward flip, landed and then right away a back flip. The other players were good, too. Butch thought Terry was the best. He was a loyal friend. After the show, they all met in the cafeteria and talked to each other and the parents.

Butch found the Raymonds. He ran over. "Terry was so good. I was so proud of him." Then he felt silly about the comment. "I mean you must be so proud of him."

Mr. Raymond was beaming. "I had no idea Terry could do anything like that. I was surprised and proud and amazed all at once."

Mrs. Raymond held her husband's arm. Butch thought she looked relaxed and happy. He thought Mr. Raymond looked well. He was glad because Terry was constantly upset about his dad being sick.

Finally Terry and the gymnasts showed up. Terry found his group and he got a hug from his mom and dad, and Butch and Jimmy just shook him. They didn't know what else to do. Mary went up and gave Terry a hug. "You were great," she said.

"We're going to travel to Lindville next week," Terry explained. "It will be our first away meet. Isn't that great?"

"You will wow them," Jimmy's mom said.

* * *

Diary, Man,

I just have to tell you about this gymnastic show Terry was in. I've never seen anything like it. I didn't know he was good at stuff like that. I always thought we were about the same, pretty average guys, just the two of us. But there's no way. Terry is a star. He is simply amazing. I guess he's still good old Terry, but I won't ever think of him the same way again. I don't feel bad. I mean I can do things. I just feel like there's someone I thought I knew that I really don't know at all. It's weird. I wonder who else is holding back on me. Jimmy? Could he be hiding some talent I don't know about? Whatever could it be? Mary? She doesn't seem any better at things than most of us. But what if Mary has something that will make her different? I'm confused. I like Terry to be great. Still, when things change, you feel so lost. I feel lost. I don't want to lose Terry or Jimmy or Mary. I won't, will I?

Butch, signing off

(Next time - does Terry get to bask in the limelight, or does something more shadowy lurk in his future? Come back next Friday and see.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chapter XVII. The Story Progresses


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Mary sat on her bed and thought about what Mom had said yesterday. Not only was she shocked and disgusted with the facts of how babies were made, she just found out that her very own mom was going to have a baby in the spring. That was nice. Mary longed for a little brother or sister, but her parents - doing that, well not possible. But Mom doesn't lie. She wondered if she could face her friends now that she knew. She was just wondering this, when the phone rang downstairs.

"Mary, it's for you."

She rushed downstairs and answered. "Hello, this is Mary. Oh, Jimmy, I'm fine. I'm sure I can come over now. I'll see you soon."

On the way over to Jimmy's house, Mary tried to put her recent information out of her head. The Scribblers were going to go on with more chapters of their desert story, "A Chosen Generation." She was happy and relieved about that.

Jimmy greeted her and together they walked to Havenword. It would truly be a quiet place today, away from parents and her recent mistakes.

Butch greeted them heartily and the boys sat down. Mary went over and arranged the curtains she had painstakingly made for the clubhouse. She went around picking things up and putting them on shelves. She loved this place and wanted it to be a comfort, for all of them.

Terry hurried in and he began, "Jimmy has started the next chapter of our story. He has Conni and Aaron meeting Conni's father and then getting lost in tunnels below the ground. It's too exciting. We can read it through and add or take stuff out."

Jimmy passed out copies of the story that Terry had typed on his dad's Royal. They took turns reading through the chapter, page, by page.

"I love this part where Aaron blindly swings his club in the dark, to protect himself. He seems so wimpy and then he hauls off and knocks this guy for a loop," Jimmy said.

"It's important that he doesn't kill him, only put him out." Terry added. "He doesn't know it but the reader does."

"Oh, maybe we should tell him," Mary said. "He'd want to know."

"We'll see," Jimmy said. "See if you can fit it in here. That's why we're doing this, to work on it together and make it right."

The group corrected pages for another hour and then Terry said, "I have to go. We're having a practice tonight for the gym show and I have to be there."

"Yeah, good luck, Terry. We'll all see you tomorrow."

"We wouldn't miss it,"Mary said. "Take care of yourself. Don't get hurt."

"I don't plan to. They spot you pretty good. And the mats are soft. I'm not worried."

"I now call this meeting of the Scribblers to a close," Jimmy said. "See you all in school."

Terry, Butch, and Jimmy went home. Mary stayed and cleaned up the papers, filed them in the proper box, and looked around. Such contentment. Her own place. She pulled the curtains closed and put the lock on the door. As she walked in the gathering darkness, she looked back and caught her breath. There, framed in the light of her kitchen window, her hair sticking out all over, was the sour face of Mrs. Frumstead. Mary remembered her mom's words 'old busybody.' She sang to herself a song about "The Happy Wanderer" and walked on home.

(Next week, we'll see where Terry's gymnastic practices have been leading. Is he in for fame and fortune or disaster?)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chapter XVI. The Little Talk



Mary was just waking up. Remembering how the freezing water had shocker her whole system and recalling the one second, two seconds before she reached out for help made her head hurt. Mom was siting in a chair by her bed. Mary did not want to talk, but she had had enough sleep and couldn't pretend. "Well, Mom, let's have it. Give it to me."

"Mary," Mom said. "Your color looks good. Are you warming up now?"

"Yes, actually, I'm hot." Mary started throwing the covers back.

"No you don't, young lady. You've had a bad chill. Now here, keep this thin sheet over you." Her mom sat looking at her.

"All right," Mary said, "I'll tell you." She looked down. "I'm sorry for disobeying you. It was wrong. I'm really sorry."

"You said that already." Mom felt her forehead. "If you stay still for the rest of the day, you can get up tomorrow, if you have no fever."

"But Mom, I'm not tired. I want to get up now. I feel better."

Dad came just then and pulled in a chair from down the hall. "Mary, have you told your mother the story?"

"No, she didn't ask. I said I was sorry."

"Mary, I have just one question. Why, when you started turning away from Butch, did you decide to go ahead in stead of back to Jimmy?"

"I don't know. It all happened so fast. I wasn't on the curb exactly, and I wanted to keep up with Butch and the other kids."

"Well, you'll have to think harder next time. I've had a talk with the boys. I wanted to see what they were like. I've also learned that Butch's neighbor, Mrs. Frumpstead, is issuing rumors about your being 'cooped up in there for hours with boys.'"

"Oh, Dad, you didn't say that to them." Mary felt extremely embarrassed. Just to think of her dad thinking something like that. What was he thinking?

"What does Mrs. Frumpstead think we are doing? What do you think? This is awful." Mary pulled the covers over her head.

"Donald, really. Mary is eleven years old. She doesn't even know...anything."

"She may not know, but I'll bet those boys know, most of them."

"Donald Brewster, I'll not have my daughter the object of ridicule by some old busybody. I don't listen to gossip, and neither should you."

Mr. Brewster laughed softly. "Easy Karen, I told the boys the exact same thing. Those boys would do anything for Mary; its easy to see that. Meanwhile, tell Mary those simple facts she needs to know and we'll call it done."

Mary didn't know the facts, but she knew the general landscape of the journey this talk would take. As she thought of Jimmy, Butch, and Terry, and what she knew was coming, she was just mortified. Her parents couldn't have thought of any punishment that would be worse than this.

(Next Friday, more clubhouse news. See you then.)