فصل 03کتاب: خدایا اونجایی؟ منم، مارگارت / فصل 3
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3 The next day we went to the hardware store where my father bought a deluxe power lawn mower. That evening, after our first at-home-in-New-Jersey supper (turkey sandwiches from the local delicatessen), my father went out to cut the grass with his new mower. He did fine on the front, but when he got around to the back yard he had to check to see how much grass there was in the bag on the mower. It’s a very simple thing to do. The man at the hardware store demonstrated just how to do it. Only you have to turn the mower off before you reach inside and my father forgot that.
I heard him yell, “Barbara-I’ve had an accident!” He ran to the house. He grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his hand before I had a chance to see anything. Then he sat down on the floor and turned very pale.
“Oh my God!” my mother said when the blood seeped through the towel. “Did you cut it off?”
When I heard that I raced outside to look for the limb. I didn’t know if they were talking about the whole hand or what, but I had read about how you’re supposed to save limbs if they get cut off because sometimes the doctor can sew them back on. I thought it was a good thing they had me around to think of those things. But I couldn’t find a hand or any fingers and by the time I came back into the house the police were there. My mother was on the floor too, with my father’s head in her lap.
I rode in the police car with them since there was no one at home to stay with me. I had a silent talk with God on the way to the hospital. I said this inside my head so no one would notice.
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. My father’s had an awful accident. Please help him God. He’s really very kind and nice. Even though he doesn’t know you the way I do, he’s a good father. And he needs his hand God. So please, please let him be all right. I’ll do anything you say if you help him. Thank you God.
It turned out that my father hadn’t cut off anything, but it took eight stitches to sew up his finger. The doctor who sewed him was Dr. Potter. After he was through with my father, he came out to chat. When he saw me he said, “I have a daughter about your age.”
I love the way people always think they know somebody your age until you tell them how old you really are!
“I’m going on twelve,” I said.
“Gretchen is almost twelve too,” the doctor said.
Well! He was right about my age.
“She’ll be in sixth grade at Delano School.”
“So will you, Margaret,” my mother reminded me. As if I needed reminding.
“I’ll tell Gretchen to look for you,” Dr. Potter said.
“Fine,” I told him.
As soon as we got home from the hospital my father told my mother to look up Moose Freed in the phone book and arrange for him to cut our lawn once a week.
On Labor Day I got up early. I wanted to fix up my desk in my room before school started. I’d bought a pile of paper, pencils, erasers, reinforcements and paper clips. I’m always real neat until about October. While I was in the middle of this project I heard a noise. It sounded like somebody knocking. I waited to see if my parents would wake up. I tiptoed to their room but the door was still closed and it was quiet so I knew they were asleep.
When I heard the knocking again I went downstairs to investigate. I wasn’t scared because I knew I could always scream and my father would rescue me if it turned out to be a burglar or a kidnapper.
The knocking came from the front door. Nancy was away for the weekend so it couldn’t be her. And we really didn’t know anybody else.
“Who is it?” I asked, pressing my ear to the door.
“It’s Grandma, Margaret. Open up.”
I unlatched the chain and both locks and flung open the door. “Grandma! I can’t believe it. You’re really here!”
“Surprise!” Grandma called.
I put a finger over my lips to let her know my parents were still asleep.
Grandma was loaded down with Bloomingdale’s shopping bags. But when she stepped into the house she lined them up on the floor and gave me a big hug and kiss.
“My Margaret!” she said, flashing her special smile. When she smiles like that she shows all her top teeth. They aren’t her real teeth. It’s what Grandma calls a bridge. She can take out a whole section of four top teeth when she wants to. She used to entertain me by doing that when I was little. Naturally I never told my parents. When she smiles without her teeth in place she looks like a witch. But with them in her mouth she’s very pretty.
“Come on, Margaret. Let’s get these bags into the kitchen.”
I picked up one shopping bag. “Grandma, this is so heavy! What’s in it?”
“Hotdogs, potato salad, cole slaw, corned beef, rye bread… “
I laughed. “You mean it’s food?”
“Of course it’s food.”
“But they have food in New Jersey, Grandma.”
“Not this kind.”
“Oh yes,” I said. “Even delicatessen.”
“No place has delicatessen like New York!”
I didn’t argue about that. Grandma has certain ideas of her own.
When we got all the bags into the kitchen Grandma scrubbed her hands at the sink and put everything into the refrigerator.
When she was done I asked, “How did you get here?”
Grandma smiled again but didn’t say anything. She was measuring coffee into the pot. You can’t make her talk about something until she’s ready.
Finally she sat down at the kitchen table, fluffed out her hair and said, “I came in a taxi.”
“All the way from New York?”
“No,” Grandma said. “From the center of Farbrook.”
“But how did you get to the center of Farbrook?”
“On a train.”
“Oh, Grandma-you didn’t!”
“Yes, I did.”
“But you always said trains are so dirty!”
“So what’s a little dirt? I’m washable!”
We both laughed while Grandma changed her shoes. She brought a spare pair along with her knitting in one of the shopping bags.
“Now,” she said, “take me on a tour of the house.”
I led her everywhere except upstairs. I pointed out closets, the downstairs bathroom, my mother’s new washer and dryer, and where we sat to watch TV.
When I was finished Grandma shook her head and said, “I just don’t understand why they had to move to the country.”
“It’s not really country, Grandma,” I explained. “There aren’t any cows around.”
“To me it’s country!” Grandma said.
I heard the water running upstairs. “I think they’re up. Should I go see?”
“You mean should you go tell!”
“Well, should I?”
“Of course,” Grandma said.
I ran up the stairs and into my parents’ bedroom. My father was putting on his socks. My mother was brushing her teeth in their bathroom.
“Guess who’s here?” I said to my father.
He didn’t say anything. He yawned.
“Well, aren’t you going to guess?”
“Guess what?” he asked.
“Guess who’s here in this very house at this very minute?”
“Nobody but us, I hope,” my father said.
“Wrong!” I danced around the bedroom.
“Margaret,” my father said in his disgusted-with-me voice. “What is it you’re trying to say?”
“That’s impossible,” my father told me.
“I mean it, Daddy. She’s right downstairs in the kitchen making your coffee.”
“Barbara… “ My father went into the bathroom and turned off the water. I followed him. My mother had a mouthful of toothpaste.
“I’m not done, Herb,” she said, turning on the water again.
My father shut it off. “Guess who’s here?” he asked her.
“What do you mean who’s here?” my mother said.
“Sylvia! That’s who’s here!” My father turned the water back on so my mother could finish brushing her teeth.
But my mother turned it off and followed my father into the bedroom. I followed too. This was fun! I guess by then my mother must have swallowed her toothpaste.
“What do you mean, Sylvia?” my mother asked my father.
“I mean my mother!” my father said.
My mother laughed. “That’s impossible, Herb. How would she even get here?”
My father pointed at me. “Ask Margaret. She seems to know everything.”
“In a taxi,” I said.
They didn’t say anything.
“And a train,” I said.
“It wasn’t so dirty after all.”
Ten minutes later my mother and father joined Grandma in the kitchen where the table was set and the breakfast all ready. It’s hard to get mad at Grandma, especially when she flashes her super smile. So my mother and father didn’t say anything except what a wonderful surprise! And how clever of Grandma to take a train and a taxi to our new house when she’d never been to Farbrook before.
After breakfast I went upstairs to get dressed. Grandma came up with me to see my room.
“It’s a lot bigger than my old one,” I said.
“Yes, it’s bigger,” Grandma agreed. “You could use new bedspreads and curtains. I saw some the other day-pink and red plaid. Then we could get red carpeting to match and a-“ Grandma sighed. “But I guess your mother wants to fix it up herself.”
“I guess so,” I said.
Grandma sat down on my bed. “Margaret darling,” she said, “I want to make sure you understand that we’ll still be as close as always.”
“Of course we will,” I said.
“A few miles doesn’t mean a thing,” Grandma said. “Just because I can’t drop in after school doesn’t mean I won’t think of you every day.”
“I know that, Grandma.”
“I tell you what-I’ll call you every night at seven-thirty. How does that sound?”
“You don’t have to call every night,” I said.
“I want to! It’s my dime,” Grandma laughed. “That way you can tell me what’s going on and I’ll keep you posted about New York. Okay?”
“But Margaret… “
“You answer the phone. Your mother and father might not like me calling so much. This is just between you and me. All right?”
“Sure, Grandma. I love to get phone calls.”
We all spent the rest of the day sitting around in our yard. Grandma was knitting me a new sweater, my mother planted some fall flowers, and my father read a book. I sunbathed, thinking it would be nice to start school with a tan.
We ate Grandma’s food for supper and every time she bit into a pickle she said, “Mmm… nothing like the real thing!”
We drove her back to the Farbrook station while it was still light. Grandma has this thing about walking in New York at night. She’s positive she’s going to get mugged. Before she got out of the car she kissed me good-by and told my parents, “Now don’t worry. I promise I’ll only come once a month. Well… maybe twice. And it’s not to see you, Herb. Or you either, Barbara. I’ve got to keep an eye on my Margaret-that’s all.” Grandma winked at me.
With that she grabbed the shopping bag with her shoes and knitting and left, waving good-by until we couldn’t see her anymore.
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