Once upon a time, the people in the clouds were my only friends. Well, them and Benny my dog and Gramma Avery from next door. But, she had to be my secret friend then. Sometimes now, I like to sit under the maple tree out back and watch the sky. Whenever I used to see the big floaty beds drift by, I wished I could snuggle down inside. That was when I used to hafta sleep in the basement. Now, I got my own comfy bed and I see all kinds of other things in the clouds, like unicorns and racing cars and such.
Back a long time ago, me and Mama used to hafta live with Al. He was the man who came home with her one night and never went away, ‘til my auntie Dahlia made ‘im go, that is. I’m not so sure of everything that happened, it was pretty long ago and kinda fuzzy. But, I remember Al used to drink beer all the time and play video games. Like he was a big kid or something. Mama would go to work and he used to lock me outside in the rain. Some days he’d be mad and sometimes he burned me with his cigarettes. I still got three round, bumpy marks on my arms, four on my back and one inside my leg.
My auntie Dahlia says her brother is my real daddy. His name is Peter Avery. He used to be our next-door neighbor and lived with Gramma Avery. I think I remember seeing him leave for work, and maybe on the basement stairs. Back then I never knowed he was my daddy. He got killed in a war about oil and such. My gramma says that she never knowed I was her granddaughter, neither. Not for a long time. Not until the ring box and on account of my eyes being like Daddy’s. Auntie Dahlia says she didn’t know she had a niece. Not until Gramma called and said, “You best be getting home quick. Quick!”
I still got my daddy’s ring, the one he gived to Mama before he went off to get killed. I wear it on a necklace because it’s too big. And even though I got my daddy’s eyes, I don’t hafta wear them on a chain. Mama laughs when I tell her that.
Sometimes, Benny and me play fetch, and sometimes I play Barbies with my best friend Annie Jackson. She’s in my grade one class and lives crost the street. Every day after school, the bus drops me off at Gramma’s house. She’s always baking and cooking. My mama works as a cleaner lady down at the Mulrooney offices, so Gramma watches me and Benny. Benny’s not so fat no more.
Sometimes, Gramma lets me and Annie surf YouTube on Daddy’s old laptop. Gramma doesn’t know how, so I find her the kinds of shows she likes. She really likes watching the Irish tap dancing and wants Mama to sign me up for lessons. It looks like fun. Auntie Dahlia does FaceTime with me and gives me math quizzes that are so much fun. She says I got a natural talent. I don’t know what the fuss is about, they’re just big puzzle kinds of games. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard.
My auntie Dahlia found my gramma’s pension cheque money, it was all going into a different bank than her own one. Auntie found it lickety-split and said she didn’t know what that brother of hers was thinking. It turned out that Gramma had enough saved up for the doctor to fix up her eye and even her hip. Now, she’ll only need that walker thingy until she’s all healed. But she still walks real slow. She says it’s because she’s a old lady. I hope she’s not too old. Sometimes, a kid needs her gramma as much as she needs her mama and her dog.
Photo from Flickr – public domain
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