Aunt Lucy made me apologize to Stuart on our way out of the dance school. I still wasn’t sure about him, but he was Uncle Frank’s brother and as long as he didn’t touch me I supposed I could let God take care of who he
I expected more of a lecture on the way back to the house, but Aunt Lucy hardly said a word, only that it wasn’t necessary to mention my incident to Uncle Frank. He loved his brother, and it would probably hurt him more
I didn’t argue, and for a few minutes Aunt Lucy didn’t say anything either. Then she announced that she was going to find me a babysitter, so she and Uncle Frank could go to a movie.
“This transition has been hard on all of us,” she explained. “We need a break.”
“Another stranger?” I said. I’d had enough of new people, but I did want a break too. “You can just go,” I told her. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
“This is Minneapolis, Jennie, not Leifton,” Aunt Lucy stated. “You need a babysitter. Don’t worry. I’m calling Denny’s sister, Susie. She took care of all of us when we were kids. She’s probably the best babysitter in
Uncle Frank was working in the yard when we got back to the house, so I went to help him with that while Aunt Lucy went downstairs to get some more dance practice in. We raked leaves for a while, and when we were both
tired of that Uncle Frank found one of his son Ryan’s old baseball gloves and we played catch until Susie arrived.
“It’s very good to meet you,” Susie told me. “I’ve heard wonderful things about you.”
“Thank you,” I said. I was a little confused. No one had seemed terribly impressed with me so far, and I wondered where she had gotten her wonderful information.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun,” she told me. “I can give you the dirt on my brother.”
“I don’t want any dirt on Taffy,” I told her.
“I’ll give you the dirt on your Aunt Lucy, then,” she said.
“Plenty of that,” Uncle Frank cut in.
Aunt Lucy pushed Uncle Frank playfully and told him to get ready to go. “We can’t be out too late,” she explained. “I’m taking Jennie to church in the morning.
“Church?” he asked.
“Yes, church,” she said. “I go to church sometimes. Besides, it’s St. Ignatius, and they have a school, K-12. She could go there until she graduates.Molly would want Jennie in Catholic schools.
This put my mind at ease a little. Nadia had told me she had had trouble in Public School, and that was why her mother decided on home schooling. I couldn’t see Aunt Lucy teaching anything other than her dance classes, and I felt that if I went to a Catholic school it wouldn’t be quite so bad. At least some of the kids were bound to know something about the Good Lord.
“Will we be going every Sunday?” I asked Aunt Lucy.
“One week at a time,” she told me. I didn’t push anymore. I guessed she was trying.
I decided I would try to get some information out of Susie after all.
Why didn’t she go down to Leifton to see Taffy? He was out there all alone now, not married or anything. His best friend, my Daddy, was gone, and he didn’t even have Mama and me to check in on anymore. He acted all Gung Ho about the importance of family, yet he barely saw or mentioned his. I knew it wasn’t a conversation for an audience, so I decided to wait until after Aunt Lucy and Uncle Frank left.
“Do you still have that Scrabble game, Lucy?” Susie asked. “It might help break the ice.”
“Top shelf of the linen closet,” she said.
“I suppose you think it’s pretty crazy here, huh, Jennie,” Susie guessed. “A lot different from Leifton.”
“I guess,” I said. “For one, no one seems to have a normal job. Aunt Lucy’s a dancer, Uncle Frank’s an artist. I suppose you’re a trapeze artist for the circus.”
“Now, that would be fun,” she said. “Actually, I’m a product researcher for 3M. Have you ever heard of them?” she asked.
I thought for a minute. It sounded familiar. “They make Post-it notes,” I said.
“For starters,” she said. “There’s a little more to it than that.”
“Nothing wrong with making Post-it notes,” I told her. “They’re very useful. Good sensible product.”
Susie smiled. She found my seriousness amusing, and it annoyed me.
Scrabble didn’t sound like a bad idea after all, and I asked Uncle Frank to pull it off the shelf before he and Aunt Lucy went out the door.
The Scrabble box was held together with masking tape and had little writings all over it: “Cheater!”, “That’s not a word!” , “Lucy ♥ Denny”, “Molly ♥ Nate.” There were flowers, smiley faces – things like that drawn in the empty spaces.
“I always thought it was funny the way your Aunt Lucy snuck this out of her house when she came up here. She barely brought anything, but she brought this rickety old game.”
“Mama saved things too,” I told her. “She saved all of Aunt Lucy’s letters.”
“She saved all of them?”
“Probably,” I said. “There’s boxes and boxes.”
“Wow,” Susie said to herself. “I wish your Mama would’ve gotten out here to see us. I miss her.”
“You could’ve come to Leifton,” I told her. “You could’ve stayed at Taffy’s house. He is your brother. If Paul Martin was alive, and I had a house, he could stay all he wanted. And if you missed Mama, you could have at least
come for the funeral.”
“Your Mama wouldn’t have wanted me there.” Susie told me.
“Why not?” I asked. “To hear Aunt Lucy talk you’re some kind of Super Hero, always saving people from themselves. Especially people in my family.”
“Well, your Mama never saw it that way,” Susie stated. “She saw me as the person who corrupted her little sister and drove her away. Taffy doesn’t think much more of me, I’m afraid. He was pretty crazy about your Aunt Lucy, and she didn’t tell him much when she left. He still talks to me, but it’s not the same. Not like when we were kids. But I suppose that’s the way of life. People grow up and change,” she said.
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