An excerpt from what I’m working on now…
Ma is in a rotten mood. “Leave me be, Crankypants—don’t bother me now,” was what she said when I asked about John. She’s so grumpy, I ought to call her Crankypants. But then I’d be grounded, and I’d have to say “sorry,” and I’m not a bit sorry.
Ma went to Ireland to see John after she sent the money that saved Dad’s life. I wanted to go, too. I wanted to meet my brother, but she said no, she wanted to do a bit of shopping and I’d only be in the way. I think she lied, though. She didn’t bring back any packages. She didn’t bring me a present—all she brought back was a mean look on her face.
Ma, Francisco, and I are out on the back patio. Ma and Francisco sit at the table, drinking wine. I take my lemonade over to the Jurassic parking strip in the garden and play with my dinosaurs. The Allosaurus goes after the Stegosaurus; I make him go boing-boing-boing on his back legs like a kangaroo. I make some growly noises. Urgghhh, Ahgrrrhhh!”
“Mi amor,” Francisco says to Ma. “What is wrong with you? You’ve been snapping everyone’s head off since you went to Dublin. Were they horrible to you?”
“Of course not. They were all so grateful, it was pathetic.”
“Grrrhhh,” the Allosaurus says. “I’ll snap your head off.” The Stegosaurus goes “Meep-meep” and turns his back.
“Then… what is it?” Francisco says. The dinosaurs and I are quiet, listening.
“They were all together, the whole clan—having a vigil, I suppose, and there on the loveseat, like part of the family, was the American whore. Same slutty red hair—I recognized her immediately. I was floored. I had no idea! He told me they were finished—she was a one-night stand that he never saw again. He must have run straight to her when I threw him out. There were children all over the place besides John—any of them could have been hers and his.”
Silly Allosaurus keeps coming, and Stegosaurus gives it to him with the thagomizer on the end of his tail—four deadly spikes—crunch! “Ow-ow-ow!” Allosaurus drags himself away.
“This bothers you?” Francisco says. “Why would you care? Don’t tell me you miss him?”
“Francisco! How could you think that? It’s that I just spent a fortune to save his pathetic, miserable life, only to be slapped in the face with another of his lies. It was galling. I feel used, taken advantage of. He cheats on me, lies about it, and I practically bankrupt myself for him.”
“You didn’t do it for him. You did it for the boys because they begged you to save him. Forget him. He never asked you; he doesn’t even need to know about it. Ask John and the others to tell him he was saved by an anonymous benefactor, a philanthropist.”
What’s a philanthropist? I wonder.
Ma screws up her mouth sideways. “I don’t know… it’s tempting, but on the other hand, I do want him to know. He’ll owe me for the rest of his life. He’ll be like a trout with a hook in his mouth and me holding the line. We’ll see how Miss U.S.A. likes that!”
“Anne.” No more “mi amor”—he sounds mad. “This is very unbecoming of you and upsetting to me. Perhaps you’re the one who lies. You’re jealous, over a man you told me you care nothing about.”
Ma’s face gets purple and her eyes bug out—she’s so angry she looks like she might explode or shoot out a bunch of purplish-black ink like an octopus. I squeeze myself behind a mock orange bush so she won’t see me. My lemonade glass falls over and the lemonade soaks into the dirt, turns it to mud.
“I am not jealous!” Ma’s voice sounds all splintery.