“Eat your breakfast, Dee,” Sam sighed, plucking the colored pencil out of the little girl’s hand and flipping her notebook closed.
Sam watched as the little girl pulled her cereal bowl closer and poked at it with her spoon. Her nose wrinkled and her lip twisted and he could see the check-list running through her head, the pros and cons involved with sticking that lower lip out, or just out-right refusing to eat. “Just eat it, Dee. I’m not in the mood,” he warned her.
She looked up at him, eyes assessing, then she shrugged and pulled one soppy spoonful up to her mouth. She slurped at the soggy mess, let the sugary milk drip down her chin and back into the bowl. She chewed loudly, open-mouthed, smacking her lips. Her eyes lit with victory.
Sam sighed again, tightening his lips and waiting through one mouthful, two, three. Then he grabbed the bowl away from her, slopping it into the sink with the rest of the dirty dishes. “You’re done, Dee. Get your shoes on.”
“But I’m hungry,” she whined.
He didn’t turn around. “Get your shoes on, Dee. We’re not missing the bus today.”
“My name’s not Dee! It’s Delilah!”
Sam gripped the edge of the sink, struggling to keep his teeth from grinding, wishing and not for the first time that his ex-wife hadn’t been possessed of such a singular sense of humor. “Get your shoes on, Delilah. Now!”
The little girl huffed but obeyed, scraping her kitchen chair back over the tile floor, a move that would ordinarily irritate him but, today, only made him feel more tired. He listened as the little girl sighed and stomped her socked feet down the hall toward her bedroom, staring out the kitchen window and toward the dilapidated blue house next door. Its shutters were worn, some of them hanging cocky-wobble from hinges he was sure must be rusted clean through. He thought briefly about his tool-box and thought about dropping by to see if they had a few odd jobs for him to do.
It was not a new thought and he found himself briefly troubled as to why he had not yet managed to swing by. He pushed away from the sink, resolving to grab his tool-box before heading to the bus-stop with Dee. He could stop in at the neighbors’ on his way back.
“I’m ready,” Dee announced, stamping her now shoed feet impatiently.
Sam turned around to survey the little girl, noting the double-knotted shoelaces, the back-pack strapped to her back, lunch-box clenched tight in one hand. He nodded in approval, choosing to overlook the tone and stamping both in favor of actually being on-time for the bus pick-up. “Well,” he said, clapping his hands. “Let’s go then, shall we?”
Dee nodded and took his hand when he held it out for her. She looked up at him as they headed toward the door. “The boy next door,” she said. “Can he come over after school?”
Sam felt his brow pucker. “Boy next door?”
“Yeah,” she said. “He looks lonely. Can he come over?”
Sam squeezed Dee’s hand and let go, ushering her out the front door and pausing to lock it behind them. “Honey, I don’t think the Jensons have a little boy.”
Dee huffed and stamped her feet again, bouncing a little this time. “Not the Jensons! Next door! The blue house!”
At her mention, Sam found himself glancing over at the blue house, its peeling paint, darkened interior. “Oh,” he said softly, suddenly recalling he’d intended to grab his tool-box on the way out the door. “I didn’t realize…”
Dee squealed then, suddenly. “The bus!”
Sam grabbed Dee’s hand again, all thoughts of tool-boxes and lonely little boys forgotten as they raced for the bus-stop and the bright yellow bus that was slowly pulling up along-side.
Author's Note: Wow. I am way behind on the A-Z blog challenge for WOK. I think I bit off a bit more than I could chew between OctPoWriMo and the WOK blog challenge. But I'm still having fun so...as I can I'll be trying to play catch- up!
This is part of what I shall now call my Aunt Aggie series.