Monday, August 4, 2014
1st 5 Pages August Workshop - Meehan
Name: Melanie Meehan
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
As the van chugged up the driveway, Katie remembered Nana’s house as larger than it seemed right now, more welcoming, more magical. At the top of the driveway, Dad shifted into park and looked at Mom, then at Katie and Will who were wedged between boxes and bags.
“Are we ready?” Dad asked.
“I’m not getting any readier,” Mom said.
“Out!” Will yelled, pulling at the buckles on his car seat.
Katie rubbed her hand along the window to clear the fog, straining to see the sparks, glows, and secrets that lived within the gardens. She could not remember visiting Nana in the rain. Visiting Vermont was done in during the magic of snow or the glitter of sun.
“Coming out, Katie-do?” Dad asked, sliding the door open. He stood in front of her, holding a giant golf umbrella. “You haven’t been here before in Vermont’s mud season. Did you know that Vermont is one of the only places in the world with five seasons?”
Katie slid out of the van, and her flip-flopped feet landed in a puddle.
“Out,” Will yelled again.
“In a minute, buddy,” Dad said. “We have a few things to get out of the van before we set you free.”
Katie stepped out of the puddle and faced the house. Her feet felt brittle, and she wiggled the blood back into her toes. The broken gutter that she had heard Mom and Dad talk about curved away from the house and water poured through the opening toward the foundation. Katie had heard Mom and Dad whisper about the gutter, as well as potholes in the driveway, plumbing problems, and faltering kitchen appliances. Katie knew that Nana was forgetting more, Uncle David was worrying more, and Dad had been looking for jobs.
“Out, Katie,” Will called to her. He stretched out his arms to her. “Please.”
“Hold on, Will.” Katie picked a daffodil and handed it to him. Mom used to say that her life growing up in Vermont was always a few steps behind a couple paces slower than others’. Even the daffodils were behind the ones that had already crisped up and wilted in Connecticut.
“Smell, Will.” Katie leaned into the van, trying not to drip water on any of the bags or boxes.
Will held the flower to his nose and tried to inhale, but made the sound of inhaling by breathing through his mouth.
“Through your nose, silly,” Katie said. She sniffed the flower for him. “You can’t smell through your mouth.” She studied the flower. “Doesn’t really have too much smell anyway. You’re not missing much.”
“Out, Katie!” Will pushed against the straps, straightening his body. He pulled at the petals, placing one of them on his tongue.
“Oh dear, Will,” Nana’s voice said, from behind Katie. “Daffodils are for looking at-- not for eating.”
Will scraped the petal off his tongue and laughed.
“Nana!” Katie put her arms around Nana and hugged her. “Nice boots!”
Nana wore a pair of tall polka dotted rubber boots. She looked down at them.
“Ah, my boots,” Nana said. “I couldn’t decide between the black and white ones or the pink and purple. The pink and purple seemed much more playful, don’t you agree? You could use a pair of them.” Nana shook her head at Katie’s bare feet. “You’ll be sick in bed for your first day at Baldwin tomorrow.”
Nana didn’t wait for an answer from Katie, returning to Will and the wilting daffodil. “Are you ready to come out, young man?”
“We’re not quite ready for him, Mother,” Mom said. Mom and Dad had been making trips to the covered porch with bags and belongings from the back of the van. “We’re trying to get the van cleared out before the truck arrives. How about getting some bags?”
“I’m ready for Will, though.” Nana unclipped the carseat and Will slid out. He left the crumpled flower on the seat behind him. Nana picked up the flower and whispered to it. Katie winced as Will headed straight to a puddle. Mom and Dad exchanged a look, and Katie knew they were not happy to have Will a free man.
Nana returned the flower to its cluster, placing it gently beside the others. The other flowers drooped down, almost touching the ground and the flower.
“Supersplash!” Will yelled, jumping in the growing puddles.
Mom’s arms crossed, but Dad shook his head at her. “Let it go, Molly,” he said. “We have plenty to do.”
“He’s all yours, Mother,” Mom said to Nana, as Will sat down in one of the puddles. His blonde curls flattened against his head, while streaks of dirt twirled down his cheeks. Will would leave some ring around the tub tonight.
“Come along, Will,” Nana said. “We have bigger puddles in front of the garage, as well as mud and worms. You have mud season to experience in Vermont.”
Mom’s arms crossed tighter and her mouth opened to say something, but Dad spoke first. “Water, mud, and worms aren’t the worst problem for a little boy.” Dad put his arm around her shoulders. “Let it go,” he repeated. “We have a lot to still bring in before Paul gets here in the moving van.”
Paul, Jenna’s dad, had insisted on driving the rental truck from Vermont. “That’s what friends are for,” he had said. Katie wondered if Dad would miss Paul as much as she would miss Jenna. Probably not.
Will and Nana headed for the front of the garage. Nana was right. The puddles were deeper there. Jumping was still a novelty for Will and the splashes of water that flew up around him made jumping that much better. Katie shook her head as Nana sloshed into the puddle next to Will.
“You jump too, Nana!” Will took Nana’s hands and swung them up and down.
The two of them jumped and laughed and laughed and jumped in the puddles while Katie watched. Mom uncrossed her arms and continued to help Dad empty the van.
Sparkling, dancing droplets of water caught in Nana’s curls and Katie thought about joining in their stomping and sloshing. Just when Katie slid her feet out of her flipflops, Will sat down and began to blow bubbles in the puddle. No, she’d help with the unloading, instead.
“We’ll take all the help we can get,” Dad said to Katie. “Unless you’d rather bond with puddles and worms.”
“I’m in for unloading,” Katie said, leaving the puddle jumpers and mud explorers.
Just as Nana sat down in a puddle with Will, Mr. Borden and the truck arrived. When Dad and Mr. Borden slid open the back, Katie shook her head, wondering how this truckload of furniture and boxes would ever fit into Nan’s already cluttered house.
Katie winced, watching the furniture and boxes stack up in the space above the garage. Frames and coffee table books from the living room, good dining room china, extra linens and pillows, kitchen pots and pans were labels Mom had written with a thick black marker. Would they really see the dishes and blankets and pictures and glasses again? Mom and Dad said living with Nana would not be permanent, but they would all see how it goes, how they all got along, how bad Nana really was.