Chapter 5 LOVE THOSE SPORTS ANALOGIES
As Marney rolled along with me seated in her lap, we talked about school. Since she’s “in the twelfth grade now, things are going to change,“she said.
Secretly, I knew what she was talking about but I asked, “How?” I liked it when she explained things to me. She had an interesting way of looking at everything from a kind of sports point of view.
“Well, Squirt, you know I’ll be going away to college, and I may not be around that much. I may even have to go out of state for college.”
“But Marney,” I replied, “I need you. You can’t leave.”
“It won’t be for that long and you know what?” she reassured me, “I’m here now. So, if there’s anything you want to talk about, I’m all ears.”
Since I’m in the 7th grade, I do what most other 7th graders do. I put on makeup, with some difficulty here and there and everywhere. And I talk about boys. Okay, I listen about boys. So, there’s a lot I wanted to talk about with Marney.
“I went to pee today and while I sat on the toilet, those girls came in and smoked cigarettes and talked about boys.”
“Yes?” She asked.
So I went on. “They talked about boys and girls kissing and who liked who and they also talked about boobs and who’s got the biggest ones--When will I get boobs?” I must have been talking a hundred miles a minute because she asked me to slow down.
“Slow down. Don’t grow up so fast, Squirt.” She spoke to me in an out-of-breath kind of way. She was still pushing that wheelchair. It was not electric. She purposely didn’t want that. “It’ll make me lazy and depressed and then I won’t play,” she said about it. That was that.
“But you said, ‘never slow down.’” I retorted.
“That’s different,” she explained. “When you’re young you want to be older and when you’re older you want to be younger. Just enjoy your time, your childhood.”
“I’m not a child.” I held my arms together and huffed.
She just smiled. “You know, life is like a basketball game...”
I love her sports analogies.
She continued, “You start out with a lot of time on the clock and as time goes by, you get tired. But, it’s still fun if you play it right and if you don’t overexert yourself to the point of injury.”
I really admired her insight right then and there. She was everything I needed a big sister to be.
When we got home, she made me a peanut butter and banana sandwich and we sat in the living room watching The Simpsons. Hanging out with Marney made me forget all about the bullies at school, especially since Bart Simpson made school bullies look so dumb. “Eat my shorts!” He made me laugh. But, we couldn’t watch for too long because Marney doesn’t like to stay still for long periods and plus Jane would be coming home soon.
Jane didn’t like it when I ate my sandwiches without a plate. I always dropped crumbs on the floor. I heard the car coming up the driveway and quickly picked up the crumbs. Marney went into her room and closed the door. I unloaded my backpack and threw the books on the table, opened up my math book and took out my homework. I started filling out the problems as quickly as I could and then she walked in. Phew!
“Oh good, you’re doing your homework,” Jane said.
I smiled at her, “Yep.”
“You need any help?” she asked.
“Nope,” I responded.
“Of course not,” she replied.
I suddenly got angry. “Well, it’s not my fault that I’m so smart, Jane!”
Jane gasped. She hated when I said it. It wasn’t a term of endearment like Mommy would have been and I think she resented me.
Jane composed herself and walked over to me and hugged me. “It’s okay Samantha. Mommy’s just had a hard day. That’s all.”
I realized that adult hard days are far harder than kid hard days so maybe Marney’s got a point with that basketball analogy. But what do they expect me to do? I’m in the 7th grade and people are talking about sex. We’re even going to learn Sex Ed this year. Maybe they’ll talk about boobs.
“Here Jane,” I handed her a form from health class. “You have to sign this and I have to bring it back tomorrow.”
Jane took the paper and looked at it. She seemed to get really flustered about it. “Um, Samantha. Did you read this already?”
“Yes, of course,” I stated boldly.
“You know I can’t sign this,” she replied with a prudish eyebrow lift.
“But, it’s part of the class. I have to do it. It’s health,” I reasoned.
She shook her head, “No, you don’t have to do it. There’s an opt-out line here and we are opting out,” she stated while finishing signing the opt-out. “You can go to the library when they hold that part of the class. You won’t be marked down, they’ll give you a separate project.”
“I know. I read it,” I replied with disappointment.
Marney came into the room then. “You thought you could get away with it, eh, Squirt?” She chuckled. “Can’t pull the wool over Mom’s eyes.” She rubbed my head with her fist. I hated noogies. They made my hair stand on end.
Jane looked at Marney, “Speaking of eyes, why are yours so red, Marney?”
I looked at Marney. “Have you been crying?”
Jane looked at me and then back at Marney. The room had gone silent as a black hole.
“Oh! Forget about it,” Marney stated angrily. She wheeled herself back to her room.
“Don’t you want dinner?” Jane called out.
“I’m not hungry,” Marney yelled back and slammed the door.
Later on, I heard Jane and Fred talking. “Could she be smoking pot?” I heard Fred ask.
“Not a chance. Our daughter? We raised her right.” Jane responded.
“You’re probably right. Besides who am I kidding? She’s a sports junkie,” Fred reasoned.
It’s hard to believe the truth when I or anyone else just observes her because she’s so enthusiastic and cheerful, in general.
“Then what could be wrong?” Fred asked.
“I hate to think that my daughter is depressed. But maybe that’s what it is, Fred. Do you think the accident has finally gotten to her?” Jane made a grand observation, but it was still a little off.
The accident hadn’t finally gotten to her. It always had gotten to her, from day one. I put together the clues I had seen over the last year. I remembered hearing crying coming from her room. I remembered hearing videos playing. One day, I snuck in there to see what she’d been watching. Her playlist on youtube was filled with videos of her basketball games from before the accident. She missed her legs. They were there but they weren’t. She watched the videos to feel them there again.
I’ll keep her secret and take it to the grave. Until the day she decides she wants me or anybody, for that matter, to know about it, I cross my heart. I shall not speak a word.