C2004 By Gracie Prior
The trees were wearing their stark black coats and frost still hung in the air. It was late in April and time for the annual gym show. Terry was very happy because his group would be tumbling and he would also get to participate in his homeroom activity. This year Mrs. Osgood said it would be either partners’dancing or the towel game. He hoped it would be the towel game, but he really didn’t care. He loved all the parts of the program. His meet in Lindville in December had gone well and several small ones were a success. Each time, Mrs. Osgood added new, more difficult stunts. Terry’s favorite trick was to jump on the trampolette, snatch the open newspaper from Mrs. Osgood's assistant, and finish his flip. That looked flashy.
The living room was a mess. Dad had spent the day on the downstairs bed, and it hadn’t been cleared up. He was relieved that Dad spent most nights in his own bed. The miracle held, at least for now. He grabbed his jacket and called out, “Mom, I’m going to Havenword. See you at dinner.”
He walked to the clubhouse and found he was the last one to arrive. Mary sat on the lawn chair and Butch and Jimmy were on the straight chairs. “Guys,” he greeted.
“Hey, Terry,” Butch answered. “Mary is reporting on our progress about the Sesquicentennial. We are going to talk to a Mrs. Mable Anderson. She is ninety years old. The city was still pretty young when she was born. She remembers Harrisburg before cars came. She remembers it before there were trains.”
“We should bring her a present. If she is going to talk to us, perfect strangers, we should get her flowers or something.”
“We’re scheduled to meet her at two 0’clock tomorrow. I know it will take a Saturday, but we need to get busy. Jimmy, you go ahead and get the flowers. We’ll take the money out of our club fund.” Mary folded her notes and smiled.
“Great job, Mary. Who has something written for the script?” Butch looked around and waited.
“I have taken it on myself to write a preliminary, first draft, non- binding script. It’s all about pioneers, and ladies in long dresses and men with beards and straw hats. I’ll finish it and bring it to meeting next time,” Jimmy said.
“Now that were all here, does anybody know what Mrs. Osgood decided about the gym show?” Terry asked.
“I heard that we’re all going to do partners’ dances and the sixth grade girls will do the towel game.” Butch cleared up the table and arranged the papers in folders. “At least that’s what Barty at school told me. He wanted to do the towel game. He’s not happy.”
Mary had her head in her hands. Terry thought he could see a tear in her eye. “What’s up, Mary?”
“I wish I found this out when I was alone. But since you’re all here, you might as well know. When we did that game in gym, Big Betty took the taped towel and started around the circle, slow like. Then she started hitting me with it, on the bum, but she missed and hit my back. I screamed and ran around the circle but she kept coming at me. I was upset so I ran to the corner of the gym and there she stood swinging that thing in front of me until Mrs. Osgood called us back. If we’re doing that in the show, I’m out. And I wanted to do the Shottish dance, too. It’s my favorite.”
Terry put his hand on Mary’s head. “That isn’t the way the towel game is supposed to work. You were just supposed to go around the circle. “We’ll fix it. I can talk to the gym teacher.”
“No, don’t do that. I’d be even more shamed if you told her. I’ll tell her, but it won’t do any good. Once she’s decided something, it’s decided.”
* * *
I feel so bad. Mary has a huge problem and I can’t help her. I wish I could do the towel thing for her, but I can’t. Mary’s tough, she’ll be in the show. But too bad it has to be this way. Terry
(Next week. What Mrs. Mable has to say)