Friday, June 27, 2008

Short Story Part #1

This is the first installment of a short story wrote last semester.
Gambits

It was cold and Patrice’s nose was running. He wiped it with the back of his hand, but it was so wet that he just got snot smeared across his upper lip and cheek. He hiccupped and continued to walk. He knew the way to his friend Cici’s house. He had gone there many times before, to play sometimes, sometimes even just with Alex to get eggs or butter for Mommy. Mommy. He started to cry again as he remembered how red and angry her face had gotten.
It was still warm from the sun and the edge of the sky was slightly pink and the clouds orange. The air was still hot and dry, except when the wind blew. He shivered in his Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas. It was a short walk to Cici’s, except he had gone the long way. Usually, him and Alex took a path that ran in between two lines of houses. There were lots of mean dogs that lived in the houses and they would bark and put their paws on low brick fence. Some of the bigger ones would rattle the metal bars that stuck out of the brick and some the bricks were cracking. Patrice was always afraid that the bars would fall down and the dogs would bite him like the wolves in Beauty and the Beast. Patrice was only brave enough to walk this way when Alex was with him. He liked Alex very much even though he was always so nice. Alex who was almost nine and wasn’t scared of anything. He would stick his tongue at those dogs and bark back. But Alex was sleeping over at his friend Ryan’s house. He had a place to be when the baby came and Patrice had to find a place or he would be sacrificed.
#

“We all have to make sacrifices,” Professor Daddy had said. It was at the family meeting when Mommy had said they were getting a baby and that it would grow in Mommy’s tummy.
“What’s a sacrifice,” he had asked after swallowing his cookie and raising his hand.
Alex, who knew everything, said, “Well, the Aztecs—“
“Did you raise your hand,” Mommy had asked.
“No,” Alex had said.
“A sacrifice is when you have to give up something to get something better. You’re going to get a new brother or sister, a new friend, but the baby might cry a lot in the beginning. And Mommy and Daddy will have less time to spend with you to make sure that the baby gets to spend time with Mommy and Daddy, too.
“Will you still love me the same?” Patrice had asked.
“Of course,” Mommy had said. “Group hug.”
They ended each meeting with a group hug. Mommy and Professor hugged with Alex and Patrice in the middle. Patrice liked being squished. Alex had touched Mommy’s flat tummy. “How did it get there,” he asked.
And then Professor Daddy said that the meeting time was up and Alex had to bring up the question next week. And next week, there was a book with tadpoles and ponds, but Patrice hadn’t paid much attention because he was worried about Mommy who was throwing up like she was sick. He threw his entire allowance into the fountain to wish that she would get better.

#

It was getting dark and things looked different now. He knew that when he saw the blue house, he was supposed to turn and Cici’s house had a basketball hoop, but the houses looked the same now. They looked a little like faces and the windows looked like eyes. They were either looking at him, sleeping, or winking. The street lamps made safe circles of light. Soon Patrice would have to run from light to light so the things in the dark wouldn’t get him.
He had to be brave. Alex had told him that Ryan’s cousin’s nanny had said that there was a man in China who stole bad kids that didn’t stay close to their parents, chopped them up, and made them into those barbecue pork buns you get at dim sum. Patrice had stopped eating them so Alex would always get two.
He pretended that he was pawn, marching up across the board. Professor always said that if you “kept a cool head” during the game, you would make less mistakes. If you stayed calm, you would see Alex’s knight coming to kill you and get out of the way. Unlike other board games, there were no dice in chess. In chess, everything stayed the same. Everything made sense.
Patrice squinted and the pools of light under the street lamps turned into the white squares of the board. He was the pawn. And he slowly marched, pausing often to look far ahead to see if a bishop, a rook, or a queen was coming towards him.

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