This is what was going on in the kid’s head:
It’s Sunday and there’s nothing to do because my friend Heather Adams is at church and there’s nothing on TV and I’m bored out of my stinking mind.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table, thinking how bored I am and my mom is running around like an idjit cleaning up the whole house and making a big roast beef dinner because her stupid friends are coming over. Stupid, boring friends who don’t even have kids, and how boring and stupid is that. So we have to behave just because they’re coming over. Big whoop.
I slump over the table and stare at the wallpaper, squinting and unsquinting to see how the wallpaper violets look squinted and unsquinted. It’s like an experiment. Out of the corner of my eye my mother zooms into sight, then out again, a small, unfocused black figure moving at ninety miles an hour. She’s ruining the experiment. And I think all this stupid work she is doing is ridiculous.
“I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” I say.
My mother stops what she is doing and starts yelling at me.
“Lynda-Leah Raney, get your head off that table, right now. Sit up straight and quit your whining or so help me I’ll call your father in here and he’ll give you something to whine about.”
“OK! You don’t have to scream,” I say, morally offended.
“That’s IT!” She’s really peaking now. “I’ve had ENOUGH of your crap today. Get outside NOW.”
I slide out of the chair and put on my boots and jacket while she stands in the middle of the kitchen, hands on hips, watching me. She’s mad, I can tell by the look in her eye that says I’m dead meat if I even open my mouth.
I open the back door and, as I’m going out, I say, “Fine. You’re just boring and stupid anyway.”
Then I run like the wind because I know she’ll take the side off my head if she can catch me. But she can’t. Because I’m young and she’s old and I can run faster than her.
When I get to the sidewalk and figure I’ve gotten away scot-free I look back and see her in the kitchen window. She still looks mad and I think she’s crying again. She’s always crying. I don’t get it. And I don’t feel sorry for her, either. Let her cry all she wants. See if I care.
I sit on the drainage pipe at the end of our driveway and look around, looking for something to do. Our street is boring, though, and nothing’s going on. It’s just gray and boring and stupid, like everything else.
The only thing moving is an old lady coming up the sidewalk towards me. She’s moving so slow that even a snail could pass her.
Hunched and fat and wrinkled, like a toad.
She’s wearing old-people’s clothes. Some stupid hat with netting on it and old lady shoes.
She’s looking at me. I feel like saying “take a picture, it’ll last longer.”
Then it occurs to me: she’s probably looking at me and remembering what it was like to be young. That makes me feel sad, thinking about that old lady wishing she was me. I feel sorry for her.
I kinda smile at her as she gets closer, trying to show her that I’m nice to old ladies and that it’s OK to be jealous of me because I’m younger and have my whole life in front of me and she’s practically dead.
I feel it’s the least I can do.
This is what was going on in the old lady’s head:
Look at that little shithead sitting in the ditch, grinning at me. Must be the village idiot.