I hate mornings. I really do. I would prefer to stay in bed. Snuggly under my Strawberry Shortcake blanket. But the damn happy face with a rainbow clock goes off at six in the morning, Monday through Friday. School! Yuck. I change out of my pajamas and go to my ballet barre hammered into my closet door. My dad it when I was at ballet practice. He was a little sloshed on beer and was so proud of his accomplishment. The barre is uneven. I should mention that. Budweiser in a can is to blame for that. Anyhow, while in pajamas I do bending, stretching, and leg lifting. I’m rather puffy. Puffy legs, puffy arms, puffy face. Sometimes I wish I was a piece of clay and I could just scrape off parts of me.
After ballet comes the shower then comes the toothbrushing then the dressing and then I sneak into my older brother’s room. He’s got a pile of change on his dresser. I pocket some quarters. He doesn’t move. Just a steady snore. My sister says he does marijuana. I guess that’s why his room smells weird. Whatever. I tiptoe to his closet. At the bottom is a stack of magazines. Naked women galore. Boobies and bits. I hide one under my orange sweater.
In the kitchen, my sister, who is in her twenties, is asleep at the kitchen table. A cigarette is burning in her mouth. There’s a bottle of whiskey next to her. I take the cigarette out of her mouth.
“Dad, she’s going to burn the house down.” I put my hands on my hips.
Dad is hidden behind a newspaper. LA Times. “It’s all fine.” He turns the page.
“Probably asleep. She doesn’t get up until noonish. She makes coffee and watches her soaps. She can’t miss the soaps.”
I was off to school. It was about seven blocks away and at the halfway mark Chris joined me.
“You got the magazine, Mable?” Chris is so excited.
“I got the magazine. But you got to pay up. You hear me?”
“I hear you. Here are two dollars.”
I stop, look around. It’s like I’m a drug dealer. I reach under my sweater. “Okay. Here it is. The mag. Hustler.”
“Oh, wow. Wow.” Chris is looking at the magazine with his jaw slackened and his lips peeled back.
“Jesus, hide it you, idiot.”
“Oh my God. Oh my God. This woman has three holes. The poopy hole, the…the…oh my God.”
“Hide the damn magazine. Would ya’?” I was getting nervous. I saw more kids on the sidewalk heading to school.
“I’m going to need another one.” Chris was obviously developing an addiction. Like me and pecan praline ice cream.
“Next time, it’s three dollars,” I said.
“I’ll have to do some extra chores but I can manage it.”
“Alright. Hide the stupid magazine, will you? Now, let’s get this stupid school thing over with. I swear if Mrs. Kendricks makes us do any more multiplications…”
Chris wasn’t listening and I started skipping as I hummed Heaven Must Have Been Missing An Angel by Tavares. If only I had a halo.