Tuesday, 3 July 2012

auntie maud

'What?' she said, looking up from her ledger, blinking at me over her half-spectacles.
'Nothing', I shrugged, 'Just wanted to see what you were up to.'

She gestured at the half-eaten lunch there among the blankets. 'You can take that away, Kitty. I'm finished."

I wanted to scold, to tell her she should eat more, that her doctor and my grandfather and her friends said she should eat more, but I held my tongue. Some things just aren't worth fighting with your great-aunt about.
Besides, she would eat, sooner or later. She was just in a snit (although she'd never admit to it) about Uncle Ford courting 'that woman'. And I hovered on the fence, afraid to comment for fear I'd piss her off, since she owned the house I lived in - and 'that woman' was my best friend.

Clary and I didn't meet under the best of circumstances. I spent a few years wishing she would just move away, since she and I both picked out Daniel Randall for our beaus. (A mistake I quickly rectified when Dover came home the first day of seventh grade and told us his new pals' nickname at school was 'Dandy Randy.' Maud did NOT approve.)Still, he was a hero at school (my brother included) because he could spit all the way across the cafeteria, and he had a habit of leaving frogs around for Miss Venie to find, usually with great screaming and flapping (even for a teacher used to boys and their tricks.)

One night at the Grange Hall we both ended up in the bathroom at the same time. She asked if she could borrow my lipstick (I said no, of course, it was my favourite one, the perfect pale pink to go with my dress) and was totally disarmed when she cheerfully plopped her purse down in the sink and said 'I didn't figure you'd let me, but no harm in tryin'. Can you believe that Eddie Myers? I'm almost certain he put his hand on my butt.' I couldn't help it. I leaned over and said, full of scorn, 'Don't you know if someone's hand is on your behind? I'd slap Eddie Myers, if I that was me.' Clary brushed some wisps of hair back behind her ears. 'Weeeell,' she said, looking intently in the mirror, 'I'm sure somebody touched my butt. I'm not sure, though, if it was Eddie. Could have been (she cut her eyes up at me) Danny Randall.' I sucked in my breath. "You are rude, Clary Johnson! I shouldn't even be talking to you."
I turned to flounce away and she reached out and grabbed my arm.
"Don't be mad, Kitty. I was jus' playin'. Besides, everyone knows he's been looking for you all night."
She was lying but I ate it up. "You think so?"
Clary nodded. "Sure. You gonna kiss him?"

Great-Aunt Maud cleared her throat. "Kitty, why are you standing there? I asked you to clear this away! Now run on and go find your Uncle Ford. I need him to do something for me."
More like making sure he wasn't out on the porch kissing Clary Johnson, I thought, but just nodded. 'Of course, Aunt Maudie. Want me to bring up some cookies later with your tea?' She hemmed for a moment. "Who baked them?"

 I grinned at her. "Mrs. Johnson."


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