J. L. Miller
“It’s simple.” He said, pushing the shovel into the ground with his foot.
“How do you figure?” Mamma was defiant, wiping sweat from her forehead as she held onto the shovel. Her hair cupped her forehead and cheeks, framing her tight lips and hard eyes.
“It’s simple,” he said, annoyed she didn’t understand. “Look!” He pointed down an invisible line he had made. “All we got to do is dig three feet deep, put the four by four’s in, pour in the cement, and we’re done.” Daddy scratched his armpit, and dug into the dirt. “It’s simple.”
“Well,” Mamma started. I hated when she started; I knew one of us would get a beating. It was just a matter of who and when.
I sat on the rock, following the conversation like a tennis match. Ice cubes began to disappear making the lemonade I had made thinner. History had shown me I had a limited amount of power to stop what was about to start.
“Mamma?” I said, “Mamma, you want some lemonade? I made it myself.” I picked up the glasses and walked toward her in a shy way, the kind of way a kid would walk if he or she knew they were going to get in trouble for interrupting a conversation. I tried being as cute as I could, walking as soft as I could, and smiling as sweet as I could. “Daddy, you want some lemonade?”
“Taylor, how many times have I told you not to interrupt when your daddy and I are talkin’?” Mamma’s was fierce when she was heated, her eyes as black and as mean as a red ant’s eyes. I hated red ants.
“Sorry, Mamma.” I offered her the glass. “I made you lemonade,” I whispered with an innocent smile. I let go of my breath when she took the glass and gave me a half smile. She took the other glass and handed it to Daddy.
Daddy’s skin was like brown leather, baked in the blistering sun. His skin glistened as pieces of dirt and grass speckled and clung to his body. He scratched his under arm like a bug had crawled up and bit him. I sat back down on my rock; my arms wrapped tight around my legs, and watched as they drank.
I cherished the art of making lemonade. I’d take out the plastic white twister from the kitchen drawer, set it in a bowl, cut lemons in half and turn and squish them as hard as I could. Today, I had made two glasses: one for daddy, one for mamma. I was delighted to watch their faces squirm in sour ways as their taste buds searched for the missing sugar. Soon enough, we would all be laughing; they were on to my wicked scheme. Mamma’s eyes would return to their normal state, a soft brown liquid love. I had saved Daddy and me from getting a beating.
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