Penny

Mommy told me never to speak to strangers. Not even a little. But what do I do when they wave at me? Sometimes I wave back. They always look so friendly and I can’t help it. I don’t even think about it. My hand just lifts up and I wave. Mommy hasn’t seen me do it yet but I wonder if she will catch me all the time.

The last person I waved at was…Mr. Red. He was wearing a red shirt like the ones Daddy would wear to work. It has a short sleeve and collar. Mr. Red had his folded over, just like Daddy’s, but his shirt was all wrinkly. Mommy says that wrinkles are bad and shouldn’t be shown in public.

I was skipping on the chalk path that my Daddy’s drew for me on the front lawn. I was on the last two squares when he walked up to our low white fence and opened the door from his side. I didn’t see at first – the sun was too bright out and he was tall – but once I had reached the top square I stopped. He handed me a little yellow flower growing along the fence and waved at me. I waved back, but I really wanted to just see the flower.

He walked by me, straight to the front door while I sat on the patch under the only tree in our front yard. Daddy liked bunches and bunches of trees everywhere. That’s how grandma and grandpa’s house looked; it was like a forest and always smelled like Christmas. Mommy didn’t want a house with too many trees because she doesn’t like the smell or leaves. She says they’re too messy and they make her sneeze.  Daddy was sad when we had left the big pretty blue house for this one. The man who showed us the blue house was sad too but he was happy again when he handed Daddy the keys to this one last summer.

Daddy finally came to the door after Mr. Red knocked and rang the doorbell. Mr. Red introduced himself and Daddy nodded. We’ve seen him before. He lives down the street, at the house with a bunch of trees scattered in the front and a swing. I guess he wasn’t really a stranger. He offered to let me swing on it whenever I wanted but Mommy said we had to go. She was afraid I would hurt myself, but the swing was only a little off the ground. I think it was more than that. I don’t think Mommy likes him very much – she never waves back at him.

Mr. Red asked if Daddy had seen his son at our house. Billy was his name I think. I sniffed my flowers again and stood up. I wanted to jump rope but I couldn’t find it. I thought I left it in the grass but I remembered I was over by the shed skipping with it. That was the best place. It was sunny and the ground was hard so the rope would get stuck on anything. Billy came over to jump rope with me a few days ago. Daddy was in the house at the time, I think he was cleaning the attic. Mommy didn’t like going up there because it had spider webs and made her sneeze. She sneezed a lot. I think it made Daddy mad.

I heard them yelling about it one day, when she told him to clean out the attic. We were playing tea party when she came storming in with a broom and asked him where he had been, she had been calling him. Daddy smiled at me but he looked sad. He touched the top of my head and told me that he’d be back later. Mommy told him to hurry and his face turned red. I didn’t know Daddy’s face could blush like that. I thought only mine could. He stomped away without talking and I refilled my dolls’ cups. I asked them if they had heard Daddy stomping too. I thought he’d get in trouble. Mommy didn’t like when I stomped around. I guess she didn’t care if Daddy did it.

Daddy wasn’t there when Mommy yelled at me about my tea party. I was pouring more tea for Mr. Teddy when she told me to go back to my room – I wasn’t allowed near the stove. It wasn’t on, but she still grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me out of the kitchen. She hurt me; my wrist was pink. Daddy never hurt my wrist. He was always nice to me and let me play with my dolls. Mommy yelled at me about a stain I left on the floor. It was a little circle next to the oven door, right under the jar she kept the oranges in. Mommy said she didn’t like loud noises but she was always yelling. She didn’t when I got the jar though.

That’s why started Billy coming over.  Daddy needed me out of the house for a while, to get things ready for Mommy. I think it was because he didn’t want me bored. He didn’t play tea with me or go outside, he just sat in the living room with the TV. For her long nap he said. Billy was nice and we like some of the same games. He came over without Mr. Red having to bring him and we’d play until it was time for dinner and then he’d leave. Once he gave me a rock he found in his backyard. Sometimes we played detective and pretend that the yard was a crime scene. That’s how we found Mommy sleeping. Daddy didn’t like for me to go in the shed because he had his tools in there but he left it unlocked one day and we found her. Mommy didn’t like dirty things but she was sleeping on the floor. She wasn’t really touching the floor, there was a plastic sheet under her.

Billy got scared. He wanted to leave and tell his dad. I tried to make him see Mommy was just sleeping but he didn’t like me touching Mommy. He tried to scream but I put my hand over his mouth and he squirmed away from me. He was wiping the red off his face but there was still some there. I told Billy to wait while I got my Daddy and closed the door. Daddy was sad and Billy was going to bother him. I closed the latch like I saw Daddy do and skipped rope. I tried to go fast so Daddy couldn’t hear the sounds in the shed. I still can hear him banging from the inside.

Daddy looked over at me when I came back to the grass. His face was turning that sort of red color. I started skipping rope while he finished talking to Mr. Red. I think he wants Billy to come out now.

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