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Bewildering Stories

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Made It Way Up

part 10: Kelly

by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

Part 9 appears in this issue.


Essa said I could have his computer while he’s gone. She laughed when she said it. As long as I get to push my fingers on the screen and make waves that look like the places the deer sleep, I said. Okay, she said and laughed more. He came in then and asked what was so funny.

“Essa says I can have your computer when you’re gone,” I said. He went red and I could see his heart pumping in his throat. He had to squeeze out his words in between beats.

“Oh... well... be careful...” he said.

“Don’t worry, honey,” said Essa and he didn’t have a chance. She was using her super powers on him, her green eyes on him, and the computer was mine.

“I’ve got some sensitive...” he started to say. Then Essa said,

“I know,” and he went from green to red. Essa lost.

“Your daddy wants you, Kelly,” he said instead of anything she didn’t want him to say. Yellow. I took off before either of them could change her mind. I learned a long time ago that when daddy gives the answer you want, don’t give him time to sigh. When Lane goes up, he has to give me his computer.

Dad was in the kitchen, making me a peanut butter sandwich. I ate inside the crust and asked,

“How long is Lane going to be gone?”

Daddy had his cheeks folded back to grin. It made,

“We figure forty miles or a little further,” sound like a frog said it. I tried to tell him that I’d get Lane’s computer but it didn’t work. I thought the words, made the sounds in my head, but they didn’t go anywhere. That must be writer’s block that Essa talks about. Something in your brain, clang clang, a wood wedge in the middle. She said it gives her headaches. I must not have one.

I thought about how daddy listens to people, today. He blinks and opens his eyes when they say something he likes. When he spells ice cream out loud. He pulls on his jaw and makes his ears move when he wants her to shut up and let him go to bed. He leans forward when she wants him to shut up and go to bed, his eyes still wide and I think ready to listen.

I didn’t notice it was really windy until daddy pointed at the window and said, Look at the trees. They were swaying all over the place like someone had stuck a finger into the middle of them just to make waves. I thought I had invented it.

It was okay, though. Daddy didn’t listen to me when his eyes were wide and listening to the trees. And he had his hand on his jaw. I pulled on his pockets and started to hang from his belt when he said, Ow, honey, that hurts daddy. I asked him to make me another sandwich. The phone rang and he answered it right away. It was Essa, asking if it was okay for Lane to invite us over for a little party. He had to hold the phone a foot away from his ear. He said, Shoot, I was going to suggest it, and, I’ll bring the beer. Right off the bat, he said that.

Poem, I’m glad that it’s Lane going away. The first thing I can remember is from my third birthday, when they fired off the third one. She was there. She wasn’t there in the couple pictures in the red album, but she was. She lights all the fires. It’s how she makes things green. One time, daddy made me only watch PBS, and I saw a show about trees and forests and how mad frantic all the little firemen bugs were running back and forth across the screen in the black and the brown, outrunning the flames that looked sick around the place where dad showed me what a magnet can do. The voice on the show was saying how some scientists say lots of things. About how to fix a fire and things like that. And how if you just let it go, it’s a good thing except for the houses and the people and the animals that get in the way. And at the end I watched the credits because they were showing a mountain in our own valley and how green it is and it must have burned to the dirt just before I was born.

That’s how she does it. She burns under the rockets and makes everything up. There’s that ring around the spot where nothing grows, but that’s because they spend so much time there. Like the barn. All full of just straw and splinters and nothing at all.

Daddy brought me over to their house for dinner and put me to bed when they got out dessert. He walked me across the yard, picking me up onto his shoulders when I told him I was afraid of the thistles. He put me under the covers and kissed me on the forehead and I must have whispered because he bent down and said,


And I said,

“I’m glad you’re my daddy.” He was, too. He laughed his head straight up. I could see his shadow. It stretched out an arm and pulled the blanket up tighter around my neck.

“Go to sleep, smartie,” he said.

She burns up and I never see the rockets again. They’re gone to make it green. I told all of this to her in different words and she laughed more than I did. Maybe I needed a better word than burn. Maybe I needed to hold her hand so she’d know I was there when I opened my mouth.

He didn’t even stay to watch me sleep.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2004 by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

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