Daddy’s tires on the white truck growled in the dirt as we neared the top of the steep driveway. Looking over him, I could see there were horses at the neighbors’ house. Maybe I could get a horse! I excitedly thought.
It was silenced by a voice I was learning wasn’t quite my own; they’ll never buy you a horse.
I didn’t voice either opinion aloud in the white truck; I knew the condescending voice was right; they’d never buy me a horse. We were poor; I could see it in the soles of Daddy’s shoes when we played checkers on the floor. Even if we weren’t poor, I don’t think my parents would ever buy me a horse, anyway. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t like me, they just didn’t know what to do with me.
and we’ll see what happens
For the past four Saturdays, my parents had dragged me to the next city over to look at new houses. I didn’t much care for the realtors we were instructed to follow each weekend; they always felt swarthy and as though they saw people as dollar signs and property, not families and homes. I avoided the cutesy “What’s your name?” and “How old are you little miss?” questions by sticking my nose in a book and keeping it there. Unless I was specifically told “leave it in the car,” my book du jour traveled with me.
Lately I had been reading more chapter books, adventure novels where the girls were heroes and the boys needed saving. I read novels of large families, all the siblings constantly fighting over what little there was, but always learning a lesson in love, too. I read books that were too grown-up for a nine-year-old, meeting Stephen King’s Annie Wilkes and her sledgehammer before I was even in “double-digits.” My parents didn’t really care what I read, I was reading. It also meant I wasn’t talking to them; I seemed to bother them with my emphatic questions and observant musings.
Any observant musings from you?
Ma didn’t want to live in a green house. She said it reminded her of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and that was weird. Daddy promised her we’d paint it “straight away” multiple times as we pulled away from what he hoped was our new home. I wasn’t impressed by the green house either, but I was impressed by the acres of land, the fields of blackberry brambles, and the creek that ran diagonally through the parcel. I wanted to explore the dog run on the north side of the property, and climb into the tree fort in the south side’s lone cottonwood tree. I’d have my own room with built-in bookshelves if my parents picked this house.
At nine years old, moving was starting to become a regular thing for me. My triangle-family had moved from apartment to apartment renting as we went. Ma got used to dealing with the landlords complaining about clogged toilets and moldy kitchen faucets and Daddy normally did extra yard work to lower our rent. I used the dusty phone book that was invariably left in a back closet to find the nearest public library. I’d cross reference the address in the white pages with the maps on the blue pages, hoping with all my being that the distance between the new place and the library was walkable. It had yet to be.