We hid quietly. Like attic mice we peeked, terrified, down through our slatted bathroom ceiling, as we had most afternoons that summer. The small area where the plaster had fallen out provided the peephole.
“Why’s Daddy do that, Rudy?” Claire trembled.
“I dunno. Shhh.” I put my hand over her mouth, and glanced over at Lizzanne.
We stared, mortified, as the scene unfolded. It was always the same: Daddy gave Buddy, the oldest of us children, a list of chores this morning before he went to work. The chores were to be finished when Daddy got home. On a beautiful summer day, what thirteen-year-old boy could be expected to scrub kitchen floors, clean the garage and rake leaves? There were butterflies and dragonflies to chase, and lizards to catch. We had bicycles to ride and great live oak trees with dipping limbs, which summoned us to climb.
When Daddy left, Buddy glanced up at us peeping down at him, and I saw that glint in his eye that said, "Sorry, Rudy, but I can't be expected to live up to Daddy's high expectations." As soon as the car rumbled off the long, gravel driveway and onto highway forty-two, Buddy ran out the back door on his way down to Hunters Pond. The empty, lonely slam of the screen door was like the clang of prison bars.
I rolled onto my back next to Lizzanne and looked up at the alternating stripes of pink insulation and brown roof joists. "Today?" Claire poked me.
I shook my head. "No," I said to the stale, attic air. "It looks like Buddy won't get the chores done again. Daddy's gonna keep us locked up here another week."
Lizzanne sobbed quietly next to me as I watched a daddy longlegs creep across the pink insulation.
Opening: Luke.....Continuation: Anonymous