Let me guess. You and Uncle Stuart are going out and I am going to eat…”The kitchen with the staff and won’t that be fun?” I washed up and headed to the kitchen. I sat next to Edgar, happy to be with the staff, my kind of people. Granny Apple looked around and said, “Something is missing Sean.” Suddenly I said Sit, Stay that brought Lord and Lady in. I said, “I’m an experieced waitress so I volunteer to serve.” “OK. Granny said.” I ladled and served, sat and ate and became part of the whole household. After dinner, I decided to ask for advice. About dating. All heads turned my way. “I have a plan and I’m asking you all to listen and tell me what you think. Okay, I’m not really into dating because back home, I had some unpleasant experiences. But I’m starting new here and if a girl does’nt go out after guys keep asking, there might be gossip. And kids can be mean. So here’s my plan. I accept a date to the movies because I don’t have to talk too much to the guy and a movie is a safe place.And after the movies, he takes me for a snack someplace and then it’s time to go home. And maybe he thinks because he spent money on me, now he can, uh, expect something in return but when he drives me home, Edgar opens the door and does his Edgar thing and the guy knows he better leave. So I say thanks and good night. And I’m home. Safe. I took a deep breath and waited. “What exactly is my Edgar thing,” Edgar said. “Oh, you know. You wear a black suit looking serious like you’re in charge of the house.”I believe your plan will work, Miss Charlie. “Dessert time” Sean said. Apple pie. Delicious.
Charlie called her mother. “Mom, is he really dead?”My darling girl. Yes, its our secret to keep forever. Make sure you never tell anyone. I could get in a whole lot of trouble for lying.” In my thoughts, I pictured Mom’s next words. “Max Calhoun wants to marry me and move farawy. Soon we are going to a good place in Utah so I should not call. She will call me. Little pieces of my heart fell off and I didn’t know how to put them back together. After changing into a clean tee shirt and panties, I climbed between the silky sheets to find Lord and Lady still there, tails wagging. Against my better judgement , did I have any at fifteen? I let them curl against me, theit warm furry bodies a comfort. My last waking thout: tell Aunt and Uncle about the long distance call and offer to pay the charge.Heavy rain pounded the windows matched my wake-up mood. I showerd off my grief and realized I had a new life, now Mom had one. And I made a plan for a little independence. With two hundred frty dollars in my money belt, I’d buy bike to solve the immediate limousine embarrastment. Lots to talk about over dinner tonight.No time to waste, mind in a spin, I dressed in the short skirt outfit, scooted two reluctant pups out to the covered run in the back and hurried to slap a pb and j sandwich together for lunch.”Good mornin’ to you, Charlie. It’s time we met. “I’m Ms. Appleton but call me Granny Apple. Now have some pancakes and be on your way. Do you know who does laundrey here? I want to thank her for washing my clothes.” “tiz Sean, me nephew. Sean, A guyis washing my personal stuff, touching my underwear. My blood doiled. What to do? I left for school.
Classes over, I headed to the locker room with a sense of excitment. I stopped, chilled by the sight of my locker. The big room empty with no witness to the vandalism; broken door, lock open, gym bag unzipped, team uniform torn . Fury rose inside me ready to explode. One hour before the meet. I called home. “Edgar, is my aunt there? “She has gone. What may I do for you?” Holding back tears, I said, This is an emergency, Edger. Please go to my room, tp dresser drawer and take out a sports bra. pair At the back of the closet is a backpack. Grab an old pair of blue jeans and a tee shirt and hurry. Meet me at the main entrance to the high school. And Edgar, bring a sharp scissors. Thank you.” “Roger.” The line went dead. “Did he say Roger?”Ten minutes later, a police motorcycle, red lights flashing, led the way for the limousine_ Robert at the wheel_ to pull up to the main entrance. Edgar made his elegant way; case in hand as I sprinted over and reached way up to kiss him on the cheek. “Thanks. I owe you one.”In a toilet stall, I struggled into the bra top. Next came the hardest part, cutting the legs off my fave jeans from long ago. “Sorry, kids, I said and slashed right through the threadbare fabric. Funky but it would have to do. Hair up in a ponytail, I prepared to run my ass off. Something rattled around in the case. I found a cold bottle Almost giddy, I guzzled the juice drink Edgar packed, one of Aunt Eleanor’s specials. I caught my reflection in the mirror and said,” Charlie Costigan_no loser here. At the track, eyebrows taised to the max, Betty Garrison said,: What the hell are you wearing?” I felt the team grow quiet waiting for my answer. “Sorry Coach, the team uniform is ruined. Lucky someone from homebrought somthing for me to wear. ” She didn’t buy it but just then a bus pulled up with the opposition. If we won, she’d bend a little. If we lost, well maybe she’d blame it on my clothes. I took the time to look in every one of my team member’s eyes. I said, “We’re going to win today and put this crap behind us. Got it? But I want you all to remember one thing. I won’t ever forget or forgive what you’ve done.” Slowly one by one, they nodded. I added a little boost. “Go Team all the way.”
Tension at the dinner table made me nervous. Usually pleasant conversation flowed between Aunt and Uncle so I watched, waited and ate another delicious meal. WOW! Uncle cleared his throat. “Sorry I’m such a bear tonight. A new client, nasty bit of business. Charlie, did you make the track team? “Yes.” And are the team members pleasant? They could be bound to be annoyed. “Annoyed isn’t a strong enough word to express the, uh, hostility in the air when I out ran Lori, their number one.”Did my mother go to Randolph High School? Aunt Eleanor touched a long gold chain at her neck. “She did. As I told you, Elizabeth marched to a different beat. She did get up to mischief often. Uncle said, “I bailed her out often. There were tears and then she met your father. He played guitar. She disappeard. Taking me by the arm, my dear uncle said,”Lets visit Lord and Lady. Time for fun.”
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Tension at the dinner table made me nervous. Usually pleasant conversation flowed between Aunt and Uncle so I watched, waited and another delicious meal, chicken sliced thin with mushrooms and lemon sauce, brow rice and broccoli. WOW. Uncle cleared his throat. “Sorry I’m such a bear tonight. A new client, nasty bit of business. Digging in with forced energy, he said, “Charlie, did you make the track team? ” “Yes.” I left out the part where I almost ran into the next county obsessed with dear Old Dad’s image chasing me. And are the team members pleasant? You’re a newcomer and they’re bound to be annoyed. “Annoyed isn’t a strong enough word to express the -uh, hostility in the air when I out ran Lori, their number one.” “Hmm.” she said. “Well I always say, they’ll have to get over themselves. You’re here to stay.” Robert served apple cobbler for dessert, compliments of Mrs. Appleton. “Did my mother go to Randolph High School?” I caught the exchanged glance between my favorite people. Aunt Eleanor touched a long gold chain at her neck like the one mom gave me. “She did. As I told you, Elizabeth marched to a different beat. She did get up to mischief often.” Uncle Stuart said, ” I bailed her out often. There were tears, she promised to conform and then she met your father. He played the g uitar. She disappered.”Taking me by the arm, my dear uncle said, “Lets visit Lord and Lady. Time for fun.”
Sizzing up the girls, I figured the blond lean muscular one Lori, to be the alpha runner, top dog. We hurried down the hall and entered the womens locker room. She pointed to a locker. “Change and go through that door to the field. I’ll watch for you.” Alone and glad of it, I changed fast in case anyone barged in. Betty Garrison waved from a distance. A bunch of faces greeted me without smiles.What the hell did I expect?” Me, the competition. This would be my tryout. She assigned a lane on the track to each of us and yelled go. I ran with the fear of Dad chasing me, ran as if I’d never before and kept running and never heard the coach shouting my name, calling me back. I ran until she drove up next to me in a golf cart and said,”Stop. You made the team, Charlie. An offer to drive me back. I turned around to see the school in the distance and woods ahead. I accepted the ride. The Coach wanted to know if I used the image of someone chasing me to get into the zone. I said, No. I just love to run.Big fat Lie. I’d been running for my life all my fifteen years.
Uncle Stuart waited at the open door, a grin on his usual pofer face. He said, “You aced the tests and had that bitch eating out of your hands.” “Really Stuart, watch your language.” Fuckin’, I thought and tried to look innocent. “I’ve heard worse, Aunt Eleanor.” “Have a snack and we’ll go over to the high school. I believe George Adams will accept these scores and make room for you. Your choice, Charlie. Always your choices. Proud uncle said. “Always remember, it’s the choices you make in life that determine your future. By the way, did you walk the dogs, are they fed?” “Yes to everything. Lord and Lady were good dogs last night.” “Lord and Lady?”he said. “You told me to name them. With those impresive pedigrees, they deserve royal names, don’t you agree?” Aunt Eleanor poured juice. “Stuart, I believe you’ve met your match in Charlie. Lord and Lady will do fine. Now eat some eggs and toast, all good brain food. Then everyone please get on with your business and leave me to some peace. Checking his watch. a smile on his broad face, “Twenty minutes, Charlie.” I ran upstairs to change. Dark green tee shirt and denim jacket plus Keds. Hair brushedloose and shiny with the help of a shine spray. Comfortable and after a long check in the mirror, I approved. Yippee. High School. My stomach clenched. A ditterent city, more money but underneath nicer clothes, I bet the guys were the same.Never had time for girlfriends, didn’t know what to expect. Scared shitless. Admit it and get over yourself. You’ve got a job to do.Already sweat trickled down my pits.I swung my gym bag back and forth. “Nervous?” Uncle Stuart said? “You bet.” “No one would know.” “Good.” Uncle smilled, waved a friendly greeting and we sailed right through. Football players emptied the gym at the same time we headed down the extra wide hall. One guy called out, “Good morning, Mr. Alfred.” Nodding to him, uncle said, “Thomas Donnelly. Nice boy, focused, and smart from a good family.” Uncle Stuart handed my test to the principal as I sat like the sweet niece. Leaning forward, George Adams said,: “Your scores place you in junior year. Are there any sports you excel in?” I’m fast. I think track is my best. Pressing a button his phone Cora, get Betty Garrison on the line. He stood up. “Thanks for bringing your niece here. We’ll help the transition along.” I hugged my uncle and he handed fifty dollars in my hand, lunch or a down payment on a car. Call Robert when you’re ready to come home.” And now I belonged to another new place, the first big step in education and moving forward with my plan.
The Hamilton Academy. Wow as my eyes bugged out behind new sunglasses at the mansion with a campus. Uncle Stuart escorted me to the mansion. “You said you test well. Now’s the time to prove it, my girl. By the way, youlook very fine this morning.” ” Thank you for everything , Uncle Stuart.I was a fashion statement. I also brought along a gym bag. Robert would take Uncle to work and come back when I called him on my new portable phone. Whoopee-fuckin’ doo. I’ll have to stop thinking with curse words. Mrs. Larimore rushed from her chair right into my uncle’s outstreched arms and planted a big kiss on his cheek. A really good old friend, I quessed. And this is your niece. Welcome to Hamilton Academy. What is your name?’ “Charloote Costigan. I prefer to be called Charlie.” “Stuart, I’ll call you later with the test scores. He said: “Call Robert when you’re ready to come home.”
I sat alone in a large room. Sally said,” When the clock strikes eight thirty, begin. And she disappered. She returned at nine and found me drinking a bottle of water and eating an apple.Examining each test, she said, “you didn’t write an essay.” “Sorry, there wasn’t any paper to write on.If you give me some I can write one now.” Sally grinned. “No one ever asked for one and it takes a couple of hours to finish. I’ll take you to Mrs. Larimore now. “Back so soon?” Sally said that she finished in less than an hour.
Mrs. Larimore sat next to Charlie. “The girls who attend here are from privileged backgrounds. From what I understand, you grew up in a small town not far from Minneapolis in what we call a different social strata. Do you understand what I’m talking about?”
Yeah, I got it. They’re rich- I’m a dirt farmer, by comparison. I nodded. “Your aunt and uncle are one hundred per cent behind you. Today you will see the public high school. I’m suggesting you go there. My girls have never been denied.” Sally walked in and said: “Sorry , Mrs, but you have to see this.” She handed her my test scores. ” In all my years, I have never seen perfect scoring before.” It was turn to blush. I didn’t. Sally ran in, papers in folders. “May I see them?” The boss lady said,: Of course.” I scanned the tests and nodded. “Are these mine to keep?””Well , yes. Well done, Charlie. Now about the cafeteria?” I stood up tall in my fashion perfect outfit, perfect test scores in hand and said,” Thank you, Mrs. Larimore.” II’m going to call Robert for a ride home to talk this over with my family.” Http://weriwa://plus weriwa://
“Oh my.” She said. Stuart, I believe our girl has a photoghraphic memory.” My aunt called me ‘our girl.” I wanted to dance on rooftops, sing in tall trees, build a monument to them. “Well , it seems you are very much like your auntNo one will know and this special talent will take you far. I stroked the dogs ears and said, Some dayI’ll get a degree, a bunch of them. Uncle Stuart opened the door. “Church tomorrow. Ten o’clock. ” He paused. “You do go to Church, don’t you?” Church. Say yes. “Yes.” Aunt aand Uncle introduced me to elegant people on the way up wide steps and then we entered the biggest church in the world.We sat way down in front. They own the pew and they know every one in Chicago. And the best thing is they like me a lot.