*For my latest magazine publications see: “English Tea and Crawdads,” in The Hickory Stump and “When Gracie was Four,” in Down and Dirty Presents, The Legendary.
by Kristy Gherlone
Mama had a wayward child, but that child wasn’t me. Timmy-Tom was pickle juice, cider, and pockets full of slugs. He was armpit farts, soda burps, and ‘I don’t know how to whisper.’ He was dog poop on sneakers and a grimy mud puddle diver. He was crossing his eyes, sticking his tongue out, and coughing without covering his mouth.
Mama had an obedient child, and that child was surely me. I was chocolate cake, and Kool-Aid, and pockets full of buttons. I was piano music, alphabet reciter, and singing in the shower. I was sequins on sneakers and reading a book under a tree. I was combed hair, smiles, and saying ‘please and thank-you.’
Mama said, “You kids come on in now. It’s time for your bath.”
Timmy-Tom said, “I ain’t takin’ a bath.”
I said, “It’s, ‘I’m not taking a bath.’”
Mama said, “Don’t you kids sass me. Both of you get in here now.”
Timmy-Tom got into the bath after me. The water turned dingy-brown.
Mama came in and saw the water. She said, “You kids are filthy! I told you to stay out of the mud.”
I said, “I wasn’t in the mud. Timmy-Tom was.”
Mama said, “It’s not nice to tattle.”
Timmy-Tom grinned and stuck his tongue out at me.
Mama dried us off and said, “Off to bed. You’ve got school in the morning.”
Timmy-Tom said, “I hate school. I ain’t goin’.”
I said, “It’s, I hate school and I’m not going.”
Mama said, “I don’t know what the matter is with you two today, but you’re both acting naughty. No television. I want you to go right to sleep.” She gave us each a kiss and turned out the light.
Timmy-Tom waited until mama went downstairs. He got out of bed, turned the television on, and jumped back into bed.
I got out of bed to turn the television off, but mama came storming up the stairs and said, “I told you no television. I guess Timmy-Tom was the only one who listened. He can have an extra pancake at breakfast tomorrow.”
Timmy-Tom said, “Yippee,” and coughed in my face.
The next morning mama said, “You kids go across the street and borrow an egg from the Fitzsimmons’. Don’t forget to watch for cars.”
When we got to the end of the driveway I said, “Check for cars, Timmy-Tom, before you cross the road.”
Timmy-Tom ran across without looking so I ran after him and a car almost hit me! The sound of screeching brakes sent mama flying to the door. She shouted, “I told you not to cross the road without checking! You could have been killed! No desert for you after dinner tonight.”
At the breakfast table, Timmy-Tom said, “I’m sure glad I have this extra pancake. It’s really yummy. I bet you wish you had an extra pancake.” He smiled, put his hand under his armpit, and made a farting noise.
I grabbed Timmy-Tom’s plate and smashed it over his head.
Mama said, “Samuel Richard! It is NEVER okay to hit another person. Not ever. That was very wrong. I’m afraid you must be punished.”
So now I’m in the corner.
Mama has a wayward child and I guess that child must be me.
*No part of this story may be copied or reproduced without consent of the author.
**Photo is the author on her 1st Birthday.