A Rare Treat

Oh dear readers, I have been writing, writing, writing and revising and calling Vic and emailing Britt and drilling Wesley and emailing Cam all week about the craft. And so for tonight’s blog I will offer the very beginning of a new story I started for the MFA this week. It’s still a blog post, I guess, because this is all first draft. But it’s a different tone and wtih different intention. And it’s what I can offer this evening, therefore – so be it.

SOCCER MOM (all text copyrighted)

“Tara’s mom calls my dad ‘baby’ when they talk on the phone.” Erin leans across our marathon game of Monopoly in order to whisper in my ear, always mindful of her eaves-dropping younger brothers.
“Why do they talk on the phone?” I roll to make my next move, the dice bouncing in a familiar rhythm. Erin thinks I am lucky because I don’t have any brothers and sisters. I think Erin’s lucky because she has brothers to play Monopoly with all weekend if she wants.
“He says he has to call her because she’s our new team soccer mom,” Erin says. “He says next week at practice, she’s going to show us a special girls’ bag for our team with like, supplies, in it.” She moves the faux silver top hat game piece from Baltic Avenue to Jail, where thanks to her lucky roll, she is Just Visiting.
“You mean pads?”
“Pads.” Her lips are pursed as she hands me the dice.
“Oh God.”
“It’s so stupid. Like as if we don’t already know about all that anyway,” Erin says, rolling her eyes. I roll my eyes too, even though I don’t really know about all that anyway, even though this is fifth grade and therefore my first year and public school with mandatory sex education, even though Erin has her period already and I won’t get mine for another five years. The day all the girls in fifth grade left their homeroom classes at Stephenson Elementary to go learn about ovaries from Mrs. Snodgrass was the beginning of finally getting all that, though ovaries were just a dot on the map.
I pick up the dice and roll again. “What else goes in the special girls’ bag?”
“A change of shorts, some toilet paper, I don’t know.” Erin rolls half-heartedly. The corners of her mouth turn down slightly and the skin on her face settles into a mute pose. I’ve seen this face before, most often on the soccer field when she plays keeper and misses the ball. Erin is the second-best keeper on our team, but she’s the coach’s daughter so she’s always trying to get better. She even has a net set up in her backyard and sometimes she lets me take shots at her.
“Do you like Tara’s mom, anyway?”
“Shhhh.” Erin shoves the game board aside and scoots across the carpet to sit next to me. “I don’t get why she’s going to be our team mom. Why isn’t my mom going to be our team mom?” Erin and her brothers were adopted by our coach, Dennis, and his wife, Mary. Even though Erin calls Dennis and Mary “Dad and Mom,” my mom tells me this means Erin’s had to think about harder things in life than I have. She tells me not to ask about adoption unless it seems like Erin wants to talk about it.
“Yeah, it’s weird,” I say. “But how do you know Tara’s mom calls him ‘baby’?”
“Because when she calls for dad and I answer, I cover the receiver and stay on the line. He always talks to her in his bedroom – sometimes in the closet.”
“Well, does he call her anything like that?”
“Sweetie. He calls her sweetie. It makes me want to hurl.” Erin sticks her finger down her throat in a mock-gag, then lurches her torso up and down, writhing with disgust. She falls to the floor and starts twitching, knees knocking against the Monopoly board, sending an earthquake down Boardwalk and Park Place. Hotels and houses slide from their properties but Erin does not notice. Her movement is fluid and full body now, and her mute face has flipped into a Cheshire smile. She cannot stop laughing.
“Oh sweetie,” I say in mock affection, starting to laugh too.
“Oh baby,” She chokes on her laughter, which invokes more fake gagging. Her youngest brother Kevin peers around the corner of the bedroom door. His real mom used to do drugs. At least that’s what Erin told me one day when we were playing soccer with him and he went ape-shit, pounding her with his feisty, six-year-old fists and shrieking like a retard. Erin couldn’t get up then and she can’t seem to get up now, even though she usually pummels Kevin out of the room any time he makes an appearance. I get up to close the door and Kevin flinches, then shuffles down the hallway into the bathroom.

Erin was right about the special girls’ bag, except the change of shorts concerns me because they’re too small and have built-in nylon underwear. On Tuesday, Tara’s mom, Sue, comes to practice wearing shin guards and Nike shorts. She is carrying the special girls’ bag over her shoulder. Coach Dennis is giving us a pep talk while we sit picking grass blades and stuffing them down each other’s shirts when he’s not looking. Dennis likes to wear shorts that have built-in underwear too, and all the soccer girls know this because his balls flop left and right inside the bright red nylon liners dangling dangerously close to the open edges of his shorts. Now whenever he uses the word balls, the team bursts into laughter, though coach doesn’t seem to get it. He is talking about anticipating the next move when he catches a glimpse of Tara’s mom jogging down the steep hillside to our practice field……….

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