Johnny America


Help Around the House


“Lana, can you help me with this box?”

“No! Look what I’m do­ing!” she stepped along care­ful­ly, mak­ing her way across the top edge of the nar­row stone wall. She point­ed her left foot dra­mat­i­cal­ly like a tightrope-walk­er and placed it, toe then heel, in front of her right.

“It’s a present for you!”

She hopped off the wall, do­ing her soft land­ing and rolling a few times across the mossy lawn. She sprung up in front of me.

“What is it?” Lana grabbed the box, which was sand­wiched pre­car­i­ous­ly be­tween a bag of gro­ceries and the crook of my arm. “Mm­mm! smells good!”

I shoved the door open with a gro­cery-laden hip. Lana sat on the side­walk and pried open the box. “Hey! This is…” she pulled out the cel­lo­phane-wrapped cube in­side and ex­am­ined it close­ly, to see what the se­cret was. “Soap?”

“That’s right, filth­pot!” I shout­ed cheer­ful­ly. “Now put it in the linen clos­et like a good girl.”

Through the win­dow, I could see her still sit­ting on the side­walk, her face turn­ing a cer­tain fa­mil­iar shade of red. I put the oat­meal in one cab­i­net, the bread in an­oth­er, all the while wait­ing for her tantrum.

And it came. “You tricked me!” she yelled, “soap is­n’t a present! Soap is­n’t a present!” She start­ed to sob and thrash her­self about on the side­walk. I’d leaned down to put a bot­tle of 409 un­der the sink when I heard the crash above my head. A show­er of bro­ken glass her­ald­ed the ar­rival of a block of 9 bars of soap, which sailed across the kitchen and skid­ded to a stop in a pile of rain­bow fragments.

Filed under Fiction on December 29th, 2005

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