Sunday, June 29, 2008

Short Story Part #2

Part one is posted on June 27th or just click here .

Mommy changed, but it wasn’t the good kind of change like when cookie dough turns into cookies. She got grouchy and worked a lot more, even when it was supposed to be Patrice-and-Mommy time. She kept the door closed in the office and said the sooner she finished, the sooner she could play with him. Patrice hoped it would be like a change that started bad and turned out okay, like school. He remembered how he had really really missed Mommy at first, but then he made friends and learned all these neat things like reading and songs. Now he was sad that first grade was over. Perhaps the baby would be like that, too. The change wasn’t so bad at times like when he would sing to Mommy’s tummy and feel the baby dance under his palms.

Patrice didn’t know what to think of the baby. Both Mommy and Professor thought it was a very good thing. But Patrice had learned that different people thought different things were good. Professor thought coffee was yummy, but to Patrice, it tasted bad. Sometimes liking different things was even good. When Mommy bought a box of popsicles, Alex always took the red ones and Patrice took the purple. But this baby who made Mommy’s tummy big, who made her grumpy and tired, who made her back and feet hurt. This baby who made Professor climb into the attic and come down with boxes and boxes and spider webs in his hair and bug bites on his wrists and ankles. He didn’t know what to think of this baby.

It took up a lot of space, that’s for sure. It made a big space between him and Mommy so it was hard to hug her. He had to hug the baby just to hug Mommy. They couldn’t do hugs in family meetings anymore. They held hands or air hugged. But it wasn’t just that space either. There were boxes and boxes in the hallway for Professor to unpack. There was a big jar of vitamins on the counter where the peanut butter used to be. And you couldn’t play hide and go seek in the cabinets anymore, because there was too much baby shower stuff. Sometimes the baby seemed to take up so much space, that there wasn’t enough room for Patrice, but that was okay, he guessed, because Mommy really wanted the baby. He wanted Mommy to be happy, though he didn’t understand what was so wonderful about it.

There were times when the baby wouldn’t stop kicking in the middle of the night and Mommy would turn the lights on and walk around the house.

Patrice would kiss Mommy’s tummy and say, “Baby, stop hurting her.” And then sometimes it would stop.

And Mommy would smile and say, “You’re such a good brother.”

At those times, he was happy and excited to be a big brother. But he also wanted to stay Mommy’s Baby. He didn’t want to change.


Chess class was a not-so-bad change. They went every Saturday. Saturdays used to be Mommy-and-Patrice days, but when she started throwing up, he stayed with Alex and Professor. Since Professor was the teacher, they always got there early and Patrice would put green and white chess mats on the desks that Alex and Professor had pushed together. Usually, there was a another grownup or two in the room. They were college students and sometimes they helped, but a lot of the times they just asked you questions. It reminded him to theraPEE. He called it that because the yellow walls of the room were pee-colored.

He remembered the day he learned with just Professor and Cici. Professor told a story about each piece.

“This little guy is a pawn,” he said, holding a small piece of white plastic. “He looks a little like a bowling pin, but he’s really special. You can move him two spaces your first turn and only one after. He attacks diagonally and wait, here’s the kicker: if you can get him across the board, you can change him into any other piece.”

“Like he grows up?” Cici said.

“Exactly.” Professor beamed. “Now the knight is tricky fellow, he moves in a L…”

Patrice decided his favorite piece was the pawn. Not because it changed, but because if it didn’t cross to the other side, it could stay exactly the same. He liked how, besides the knights, the pawns always got to move before any of the other pieces. And he liked how pawns only moved one way and how they could make a strong V that marched across the board. He liked how they could create a little fence and protect the king. And Professor said that pawns were the most important pieces. Even though the king was supposed to be the guy, he liked to imagine it was Mommy and that he needed to protect her. Daddy was like the Queen, who also protected the king. And Alex was a knight because he was tricky.

Before the pregnancy, Mommy and Patrice would have a story time on Friday nights when Alex and Professor watched a scary movie. Sometimes Mommy was too tired but mostly she wanted to finish writing her book. There were times when Professor was too busy to give horsie rides, but Mommy had never been like that. “Kids first,” she used to say. Now on Fridays, Patrice sat in his room with his chess mat, which was full of the baby’s boxes, and act out the moves in Alex’s chess comic book. There some hard words and mostly, he would make up stories about the pieces. Sometimes the baby would be a knight, because it was tricky too but sometimes he pretended the baby didn’t exist. He liked how even if you put the pieces out of order, they still moved exactly the same way. He didn’t win a lot in chess class --­Professor said it was because he was littler than the other kids--, but he always knew how a piece got to a square. There were rules. There were no simple rules to explain Mommy or Professor or Alex, but in Patrice’s chess stories they always acted like their pieces. Sometimes he wished that everything could be like chess.

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