Ruby Red was born out of grief. She’s nine. She’s spunky. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She appeared out of the blue and stole the first line of my next novel. She took off running and I’ve been tagging along ever since.

It’s difficult to make sense of life after both your sister and brother die within a few months of each other like Ruby’s did. Her whole world turned upside down so Ruby turned to blogging to try and put things “right” again.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Front to Back: The whole blog from the begining

My Brother Knows Who Shot JFK

My brother knows who shot JFK ‘n who brought the twin towers down—a benefit a bein’ dead I suppose. My sister knows too although she probably don’t care as much as Rubin does…or did. Bein’ the only boy in the family, Rubin liked to get on the computer with Daddy ‘n look up conspiracy theories. Rubin is my twin…or was my twin. I’m so confused on how to tell about things. First my sister died, then my twin. Loraine died from natural causes if you can call a lame heart natural. I guess it was to her. She was born that way—blue, strugglin’ for breath ‘n mad about it. Oxygen didn’t help. Mama lined up ’bout twenty or thirty bottles a pills ‘n fed them to Loraine in applesauce until she got to be a teenager. Yep. On her thirteenth birthday Mama gave her a vase-sized drinkin’ glass filled to the top with sweet tea ‘n said she was done dollin’ out pills. I don’t know if Loraine didn’t know how to take the pills right or what but a week afterwards Daddy found her squatted down against the back fence, cold dead with her hand on a basketball. Loraine wanted to be a basketball star like Sue Bird. Everybody told her she couldn’t play basketball, not even shoot hoops in the backyard, but she always tried. When she couldn’t catch her breath she’d squat. Sometimes when squattin’ didn’t help she’d pure pass out on the lawn. She usually woke up after a few minutes…when the load was off her heart, but last May when Daddy found her he imagined she died happy, doin’ what she loved. 

Rubin surprised everyone but me I guess. See bein’ twins we share…shared this connection like we just had one body or maybe just one mind since he is...was a boy ‘n I’m a girl. I’m Ruby. Daddy named me that when I came out twelve minutes after my brother who didn’t get a name until a week later. Rubin had somethin’ called decels real bad so we had to have an emergency C section. He came out drained a blood ‘n white as snow but I came out “red as a ruby” Daddy said. Since we was twins Mama ‘n Daddy ‘n Loraine (she was four when we was born) had to try out every boy R name they could find. Loraine liked Robert. She said we could call him Robbie but Mama put her foot down hard. “No nicknames period,” she said. Then Loraine wanted to call him Nick or Nicholas, or Saint Nick, or Santa Clause but that was because she was so mad that nobody could make a decision. Mrs. Lopez, our next door neighbor, said she hearda a man called Rubin ‘n when Daddy heard that name Mama said he beamed ‘n slapped his knee. Rubin White ‘n Ruby Red. That’s our honest names. It’s a wonder they didn’t call Loraine Loraine Blue or Loraine Purple. Maybe they woulda if she’d been born after us.

Then came September. Rubin ‘n me started fourth grade at the Belleview elementary school down in Chatham County. Even if it is a county over it’s still close enough to ride our bikes but Mama ‘n Daddy insisted that we take the school bus, “because it’s safer.” Well, it isn’t...wasn’t saf-er. The bus driver swerved to miss a deer ‘n the bus ended up on its side with all the kids piled up on top a each other. Everybody screamed ’cept Rubin. He was dead right away. I seen a white ghost leave his body. It hovered over me real quiet like then reached out ‘n took a little white light right outta my heart. 

I’m an only child now ‘n always will be. Mama done got her tubes tied ‘n Daddy don’t make enough money to go to Africa or China to get me another sister ‘n brother. I don’t go on the school bus no more. Mama told the psychology doctor that I go all hysterical when I see a bus so Daddy finally consented to let me ride my bike. It’s a good thin’ too because when I pass by the middle school I see Loraine playin’ basketball on the cement court. She ain’t mad as a hen no more. She smiles ‘n laughs ‘n yells for me to watch her dribble the ball from one end a the court to the other. She’s pink now ‘n real pretty ‘n she can slam-dunk the ball just like LeBron James. 

I don’t never see Rubin but that’s okay because I’d bawl like a baby if I did. I just know that he took a piece a me…a piece a me that was him too, to heaven with him. The thing that hurts me most about Rubin is that next year I’ll be ten but he’ll still be nine ‘n that’s not the way it’s supposed to be with twins. 

2 Ruby Red’s New Kitten

Mama says today is the twelfth day a Christmas. It’s Epiphamy…or maybe Epitome I don’t ’member right but it’s the day the three kings followed the star to the baby Jesus. She says she’s gonna take the Christmas tree down tomorrow ‘n I’ll be mighty glad ’bout that. We put it up on Thanksgivin’ this year—way earlier than ever b’fore. I couldn’t keep from cryin’ ‘n neither could Mama. It all just seemed so strange that Rubin wasn’t helpin’ Daddy with the lights ‘n Loraine wasn’t hollerin’ ’bout havin’ too many blue bulbs in a row or havin’ gaps with no lights at all. We was all quiet like ‘n nobody wanted to eat the decorated sugar cookies that Mama baked special for our tree trimmin’ party.  

When the tree was almost all decorated Mama picked up the tree-top angel ‘n handed her to me. “It’s up to you to do the honors,” she said lookin’ so sad that I burst out cryin’ so hard I couldn’t stop. Puttin’ the angel on the tree was Loraine’s job—her bein’ the oldest ‘n all. Mama sat on the couch ‘n covered her face with her Santa apron while Daddy squeezed my shoulders ‘n then guided me up the ladder. He held my knees ’til I got the angel just right then helped me back down. My legs were so wobbly I could barely stand so I sat down next to Mama. She hugged me ‘n we started cryin’ again. Daddy put the ladder ‘n boxes away ‘n when he came back he just stood in the doorway ‘n didn’t say a word, just looked at the tree real sad like. Mama said, “Come sit with us ‘n have a cookie.” But he didn’t. He just turned round ‘n stormed out the backdoor slammin’ it real hard behind him like he was mad about somethin’. I jerked ‘n looked up at Mama, my heart stopped bein’ sad ‘n started bein’ scared. “Don’t worry ’bout him, honey,” she said. “He’s as upset as you ‘n me about Rubin ‘n Loraine but he don’t know how to express his feelins.” I stared at the back door wonderin’ ‘bout s’pressin’ feelins. I never did eat a cookie. Nobody did.
The next mornin’ Daddy was all smiles. “How ’bout we go ‘n get you an early Christmas present?” he said all cheerful like. That made me smile too ‘n not just ’cause I was gettin’ a present but ’cause Daddy was a smilin’. I looked at Mama ‘n she was smilin’ too—not one a her sad smiles but one a her olden smiles that didn’t have no tears behind it. I jumped up from the breakfast table ‘n gave Daddy a big ole hug. “Where will we get it?” I asked feelin’ like there was jumpin’ beans in my stomach. “At the animal shelter.” Daddy tousled my hair like he used to do when I was little. “I thought you might need a kitten since you been mopin’ round so long.” 

Right after breakfast Mama, Daddy, ‘n me climbed into the green pickup. “I heard there’s lots a kittens at the shelter down highway sixty-four,” Daddy said as he backed the truck down to the dirt road in front a our house. Them jumpin’ beans started dancin’ round until my head was spinnin’. I’d been askin’ for a kitten since I was three but nobody never got me one. I plum gave up on ever gettin’ one since Loraine ‘n Rubin…you know…passed on ‘n nobody did much talkin’ ‘bout wantin’ things.

There were lots a kittens at the shelter ‘n I gotta to hold almost all of ’em. There was a orange one, ‘n ’bout six Calicos with blue eyes, ‘n a few gray ones. Most were too squirmy or too sleepy. Mama spotted a little one all alone lookin’ like he was tryin’ to hide under a chair. She picked him up ‘n gave him to me ‘n that little kitten crawled up ‘n snuggled against my heart ‘n purred so loud that I knew I had to take him home. I bit my bottom lip ‘n tried real hard not to cry. I don’t know why I wanted to cry. I was so happy cuddlin’ with that purrin’ ball a black fur. I wanted to purr back…so he’d know how happy I was with him. Then it came to me—people should purr…then we wouldn’t have to be a worrin’ about what they was feelin’.

3 The Naming of Ruby Red’s New Kitty

Listen to T.S. Elliot read his poem “The Naming of Cats”  

My kitty doesn't have a name. I been thinkin' 'n thinkin' but no name I think of is the right one. Last year Grandma gave Loraine a book 'bout cats called, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. One of the poems is ’bout namin’ cats but those names are kinda complicated. If Loraine was alive she woulda already named my kitten for me 'n it probably woulda been a name I don't like. She woulda never let a kitten go so long without a name. 

4 Kitty Has a Brand New Name

I’m feelin’ pretty happy that so many people helped me name my kitty. I liked lots ’a the names like Kit-Kat (two people suggested that one), Mazy, Domino, Prince George ‘n Magic. Jessie Mobley ’n me tried out all the names but kitty wadn’t interested in any of ’em. 

On Sunday Jessie Mobley, Mama, ’n me was watchin’ figure skatin’ on the TV when kitty jumped off my lap ’n did a little dance right there on the livin’ room floor. Mama said he was dancin’ to the music a the skaters who was skatin’ to a song called, Gold Finger, the James Bond theme song. Well, I didn’t know nothin’ ’bout James Bond ’n neither did Jessie Mobley so Mama told us all ’bout him bein’ the famous Agent 007 who used to get dressed up in tuxedos. “Bond. James Bond,” she said all dreamy-eyed. “Didn’t somebody want to name kitty James Bond?” 

Me ’n Jessie Mobley looked at each other. “Yeah, somebody did,” I said. “Rubin liked spies ‘n conspiracy theories,” I told Jessie Mobley. “Rubin probly knew ’bout Agent 007 ‘n a all the names on the list that’s the name he’d choose. I got big ’old goose bumps all up ’n down my arms just thinkin’ that Rubin woulda chosen that name. I couldn’t help from smilin’. Jessie Mobley was smilin’ too ‘n we both started callin’, “Bond! James Bond. Come here!” But kitty didn’t come. So I tried Agent double O seven. Still nothin’. Then Jessie Mobley called, “Seven! Come on Seven.” But that kitty didn’t move a whisker. I got a little bothered then ‘n kinda sad. When the skatin’ was over Mama turned the TV off ‘n I scooted to the floor.

Kitty was asleep in front a the TV. I guess he was all tuckered out. “James Bond,” I whispered. But kitty still didn’t move. “Bondi?” I said a little louder ’n low ’n b’hold kitty opened his eyes ’n twitched his nose. “Bondi?” I called again. “Come here Bondi Boy.” That kitty got up ‘n pranced across the floor to me ‘n started purrin’ real loud. Jessie Mobley smiled. “He likes that. He likes to be called Bondi Boy.” 

So I named my kitty Bond. James Bond ’cause I could hear Rubin sayin’ that ‘n my insides got all warm ‘n fuzzy. Mama looked at me. “Bond. James Bond. That’s a fine name for such a handsome cat.” When she said that I felt the place where Rubin took that little white light outta me go all tingly. I picked up Bondi Boy ‘n hugged him to my heart ‘n kissed the top a his soft precious head.

Congratulations to Betty from Florida for naming Ruby's kitten. Here’s what she said about the winning name: “Bond. James Bond”: OK, here's my entry. I say Ruby Red names her kitten "Agent 007," but she calls him "Bond" (or "James" or "James Bond"). The reason she decided on that name was that Rubin liked conspiracy theories, mysteries, and probably anything having to do with spies. And because this kitty looks like he could be a first-rate spy all dressed up in his tux, maybe that's a name Rubin would have chosen and will make Ruby feel like a part of Rubin is still with her, still joining in her escapades. And she decided against a "color" name (having to do with kitty's black and white coat and green eyes) because after Rubin dying she has to stay away from names with colors. )

5 Ruby Red’s Silver Lining

I got to thinkin’ ‘bout the sisters ‘n brothers a all those kids that got killed at Sandy Hook School ‘n all those kids that survived that big typhoon in the Philippines. They must be feelin’ just like me. They must be missin’ their sisters ‘n brothers too. I know I can’t do nothin’ ‘bout the typhoon ‘n the hurtin’ it caused ‘n after more ’n a year those little kids’n their teachers in Newton are still grieved. It’s just that I’m feelin’ worse sorry for myself than those homeless kids who hafta sleep in tents on the soggy ground. I know there’s a lot a hurtin’ goin’ on but there’s still lots a hurtin’ goin’on deep inside a me. Mama says I’m fortunate to have a nice warm bed ‘n two lovin’ parents ‘m I’m old enough to know that’s the truth. It’s just that, hard as I try, I’m so dern lost without Loraine ‘n Rubin. 

Daddy told me I been beatin’ the odds all my life…that I was one a the lucky ones. But what’s the odds a losin’ your sister ’n your brother in less than four months? Mama says to look for the silver linin’ ‘n I’m tryin’. 

Jessie Mobley ‘n me been friends ever since pre-school but we’re best friends now…now that I’m a only child ’n she had experience at that…for a little while anyways. 

Jessie’s big brother, Ty, died last year. He had leukemia ‘n got real well for ’bout a week after he got a bone marrow transplant. Then one mornin’ he just didn’t wake up. Her parents were in the same predicament as mine—too old to have any more kids ’n too poor to go to China to get one. B’sides they wanted a boy. So they go ‘n adopt another brother for her but this new brother isn’t easy like Ty was. This brother, Jake, don’t never wear down. The first day he went a swingin’ from the bathroom towel rack ‘n plum pulled it out the wall. Jessie’s mama wadn’t too mad ’cause Jake broke his arm in two places ‘n had to go to surgery that very afternoon. Jessie didn’t like goin’ back to the children’s hospital where Ty spent so many dark days. Neither did her mama ‘n daddy. But Jake just spent one night there ‘n was real happy to have a neon green cast for everbody to sign on. 

Jessie Mobley listens to me ramblin’ on ‘bout everthing Rubin ‘n me used to do ‘n about how Loraine used to cry when she got so outta breath she couldn’t even pick up the basketball let alone dribble it. I just can’t help wonderin’ if Rubin ‘n Loraine knew what a great place heaven is s’posed to be. I don’t ’member nobody talkin’ ’bout heaven b’fore Loraine went there. How’d did she know she coulda run without gettin’ out a breath? Is that why she left? But why did Rubin go ‘n Ty? Jessie Mobley says that nobody really knows where heaven is or what it’s like there, but she knows that when Ty died he went to be with God ‘n that’s enough for her. 

I gotta think on that. I guess what’s botherin’ me most is I’m so dern mad at Rubin ‘n Loraine for goin’ off ‘n leavin’ me behind. Me ’n Jessie Mobley didn’t need no friends b’fore Ty, Rubin, ‘n Loraine left us but we’re best friends now. I recon that Jessie Mobley is my silver linin’…’n maybe I’m hers too.

6 What’s in a Name

Mama took a quiz today ’bout which one a the Downton Abbey people you are ‘n she’s Anna Bates. Mama smiled at that. Her Mama’s best friend was named Anna ‘n her Mama’s name is Amy. Mama said that when she was a little girl she had her future all planned out. First she’d marry a prince ‘n then she’d have a daughter named Shelley Sue ‘n after that she’d have twin girls—Anna ‘n Amy. Well, she got Daddy first who isn’t zactally a real prince like in Cinderella but she thinks he’s enough of a prince to make her happy, then she got a daughter but Prince Daddy didn’t like the name Shelley Sue ‘n wanted to name her after his grandmother, Loraine. So Mama did. Then low ‘n b’hold she gets twins! Me ‘n Rubin. So the names Amy ‘n Anna didn’t work ‘n she let Daddy name us too. But I already talked ’bout that.

I wonder if Rubin’d been a girl if I’d be Amy or Anna? I think I’d like to be Anna ’cause like Mama says, “Every Anna I ever met had the sweetest heart,” ‘n I want people to think that ’bout me. I been so blue since Loraine ‘n Rubin left me that I been too mad to be sweet. Like yesterday. Me ’n Jessie Mobley was playin’ in my room when Bondi jumped on my lap ‘n snuggled down ‘n purred so nice. Jessie Mobly wanted to play with him. She got his Ping-Pong ball ‘n started bouncin’ it then she tried to get Bondi to jump a my lap. I hugged him to my chest ‘n told her to leave my kitty alone. Well she stuck her bottom lip out ‘n looked so sad like she wanted to cry. I didn’t say nothin’. I didn’t know what to say. Pretty soon she said she’d see me tomorrow at school. I didn’t want her to go. My heart got a big ache in it. I just sat there rockin’ Bondi in my arms ‘n tryin’ not to let my tears get him all wet. 

What I don’t get is why did Loraine ‘n Rubin both go ‘n leave me? Loraine couldn’t help dyin’ cause a her lame heart. It was inev…inevitable Daddy said but shook his head like he don’t believe it. It ain’t…it’s not fair that I was sittin’ right next to Rubin on the bus when it flipped over. Why did he go ‘n die just like that ‘n I didn’t even get a dern scratch? It was like he wanted to go. Like he’d rather be with Loraine than me ‘n I’m his stupid twin after all! Sometimes I hate him for leavin’ me. When I saw him leave, well, I just let him go. Maybe if I’d just tried to stop him he woulda stayed. I didn’t know if I’ll ever get over bein’ mad him.  
If I took that quiz ’bout Downton Abbey I’d probly be one a them mean boys that makes life miserable for Anna ‘n Ivy ‘n Daisy.

7 The Lonely Kitten

I been feelin’ so lonely sometimes that it hurts my heart bad. I told Mama about it today ’n she put her hand on mine ’n squeezed it. Then I told her ’bout bein’ mean with Jessie Mobley when she tried to play with Bondi ’n I didn’t want her to. Mama said what I was feelin’ was normal ’n that I should pologize to Jessie. I just sat at the kitchen table ’n tried to think how to pologize. While I was sittin’ there watchin’ Mama look up a recipe on the computer ’n thinkin’ ’bout Jessie Mobley, Bondi hopped up to my lap. “Mama,” I said. “James Bond gets lonely too, specially while I’m at school ’n you ’n Daddy are workin’.” Mama looked at me ’n folded her arms cross her chest. “Next thing you’re going to do is ask for another kitten, isn’t it?” My heart ’bout stopped. Mama just sat there lookin’ at me. “Another kitten?” I asked, feelin’ real happy all of a sudden like maybe I couldn’t get another sister or brother like Jessie Mobley did but I could get another kitten ’n then Bondi started to meow real loud like he knew what we was talkin’ ’bout. I poured him a taste ’a milk in his bowl ’n then asked Mama real nice like, “Can I get another kitten?” Mama just shook her head ’n said to ask Daddy at dinner. 

I couldn’t hardly wait ’til Daddy got home ’n I didn’t have to ask ’bout another kitten ’cause in he came through the garage door with a cardboard box ’n handed it to me. “This here’s James Bond’s true brother.” I looked in the box ’n there was the funniest lookin’ kitty all rolled in a ball. He’s all kinda colors ’n stripes ’n spots ’n he got the bluest eyes I ever seen. My mouth popped wide open but b’fore I could say one word Daddy started talkin’ again. “The lady at the shelter called yesterday ’n asked if we’d adopt him since he was the last a the litter ’n needed a home real bad.” 

I took that kitty outta the box ’n he was shiverin’ up a storm. I held him real gentle like ’n kissed his head right b’tween his ears like I do for Bondi ’n sure ’nough he started purrin’. I held him for a while longer ’n petted him ’n kissed him again. 

When I put him on the floor next to Bondi he arched his back ’n hopped side-ways cross the floor like he was a scared Halloween cat. Then he reared up on his back legs like a big ’ole buckin’ bull ’n Daddy laughed. “He must be Bushwacker’s son…looks just like him.” Bushwacker is a champion buckin’ bull ‘n Daddy was right…that kitty did look an awful lot like him. I don’t know if new kitty recognized Bondi ’n was doin’ a happy dance or if he was a wild thing but next thing he done was run into the livin’ room ’n climb right up the rockin’ chair to the very top ’n started it rockin’ ’n rode it just like JB Mauney rides a buckin’ bull. Then I knew I was gonna call that kitty JB after the new world champion bull rider ’n my favorite cowboy. B’sides JB Mauney just lives down the road a piece from Grandma ’n Grampa’s house in Mooresville. 

It took a good while for JB to run outta steam ’n when he did he sat down right next to Bondi ’n gave him a big lick right cross his nose. My insides went all melty. Those brothers look so cute together—Bondi so handsome ’n elegant ’n JB lookin’ like somebody went plum crazy with a paintbrush.

I had to tell Jessie Mobley ’bout JB. So I picked up the phone ’n called her. She wadn’t a bit mad at me. She said we was still best friends ’n if I wanted to jump off a bridge she wouldn’t jump with me but she’d be at the bottom to catch me. What Jessie Mobley told me fit into a big empty place inside my heart. I sat down on the floor ’n both kitties jumped into my lap. I don’t think me or Bondi are ever gonna be lonely again.

8 The Pink Bedroom

A couple years ago Daddy painted the bedroom I shared with Loraine bright blue. I wanted pink but somebody had went ’n told Loraine that pink makes girls weak so she talked Mama into bright blue. I don’t know ’bout pink makin’ me weak. Pink is my favorite color. I like to wear pink ’n I have lots a pink stuff. Now that the room is just mine Mama said we could paint it pink or any color I got my heart set on but not ’til it needs paintin’ again which isn’t gonna be anytime soon. Blue makes me feel blue ’n then I start feelin’ sad for myself bein’ lonely ’n all. I’m glad I got Bondi & JB to keep me company in this blue room cause they make me happy with all their jokey ways. 

Yesterday while I was at school Mama packed up all Loraine’s stuff ’cept her books ’n took it to the women’s shelter store over in Pittsboro. She kinda spread my stuff out so maybe I wouldn’t notice Loraine’s stuff bein’ gone. But I did notice…right away ’n I started cryin’. Mama bit her lip ’n went to the kitchen to get herself a cup a coffee ’n me a cinnamon roll she bought at the new bakery next door to the shelter store. I followed her to the kitchen ’n poured myself a glass a milk. We both sat down at the kitchen table ’n tried not to cry more. Mama said she packed a old trunk with all the things that was special to Loraine ’n Rubin. She said that someday her ’n Daddy ’n me would sit down ’n look at everthing ’n member all the good things ’bout both a them. Then she told me that she done cleaned out Rubin’s room too ’n was makin’ it a proper guest room for when Grandma ’n Grandpa visit. I hadn’t been to Rubin’s room since…you know…he left us. I’m scared to see it all gussied up for Grandma. 

Jessie Mobley came over to play with Bondi ’n JB ’n Mama dished her up a cinnamon roll ’n a glass a milk too. Jessie Mobley told us that a girl somewheres near Chicago killed her sister with a kitchen knife cause she was mad at her. I didn’t want to eat more a the cinnamon roll when I heard that. Me ’n Loraine used to argue sometimes but neither one a us ever got that mad. Hearin’ that made me feel all sad again. I want my sister back ’n that girl killed hers. It’s not fair…people not appreciatin’ what they have. 

While we was talkin’ bout it Jessie Mobley’s Mama called my Mama ’n invited me to spend the weekend at their house. She said we could go to the movies ’n see “Frozen” ’n then even go to the Greensboro Ice House to go ice skatin’. Mama said yes so Jessie Mobley helped me pack while those kittens hopped in ’n outta my suitcase. Jessie Mobley ’n me laughed so hard ’til we couldn’t hardly stop. 

When I got back home on Sunday I got a big surprise. My bedroom was painted the perttiest shade a baby pink. The bunk beds was gone ’n there was twin beds with ruffly pink ’n green spreads ’n rose heart shaped pillows. In the middle b’tween the beds was a white night stand with a bright pink chandelier lamp on it. I started smilin’. I sat down on one a the beds ’n hugged one a them soft pillows to my heart. “Guess you like your surprise,” Daddy said. “Oh, I do!” I said ’n hugged his neck. Mama stood in the doorway ’n smiled. Bond ’n JB jumped up on the bed then sat beside me ’n just purred. I looked at Daddy ’n Mama ’n said, “Purrrrrrrrrrrr!” ‘N that made ’em smile more ’n laugh even. 

That night I felt like a princess in my pink room. In a way I missed the bright blue that made Loraine so happy. Or maybe I just missed Loraine. I could see her in Heaven. I could see her welcome that little girl who got stabbed. I knew then that Loraine ’n Rubin ’n that little girl probably didn’t miss people down here. I fell asleep watchin’ ’em sing ’n dance together in a place as beautiful ’n wonderful as my new pink bedroom.

Here’s me ‘n Jessie Mobley

9 My Grandma

My grandma wants a convertible for her birthday in March. She only wants a red one ‘n it has to be a sports car too.  Grandpa just rolls his eyes when she starts talkin’ bout it. She even got a connectin’ thing to hook up her iPod to the car radio so she can listen to her favorite rock ‘n roll songs  ’n sing along. She’s the only grandma I know who even has a iPod. She likes goin’ to the movies but mostly likes the ones that come in the mail. Her favorite movie is an old one with lots a singin’ in it called The Music Man. Sometimes she watches it on the TV but mostly she watches it on her laptop with her head set so she don’t bother Grandpa. She’s watched that movie ‘bout a zillion times already ’n she says it’s a happy movie that makes her cry joy tears ever time. 

Grandma won’t have no rockin’ chair either cause she says she’s not old enough yet. Sometimes she does line dancin’ down at the senior center ‘n sometimes she plays Mah Jongg with her lady friends. After their games they sip on gin martinis. Grandma says that the people who like gin like the springtime better’n the whole rest a the year. “In springtime,” Grandma says, “I can take you for a ride in my new red convertible with the top down ‘n the radio blarrin’.” I asked her where we would go ‘n she said, “Anywhere your sweet heart wants to go.” I asked if she’d take Jessie Mobley too ‘n she said, “The more the merrier, honey-pie.” 

Grandma cried more than anybody when Loraine ‘n then Rubin died.  She said she cried cause children should be the last to die…after their grandparents ‘n their mama ‘n daddy. Mama said, “Life is not fair.” Then Grandma wiped her eyes on her white hankie ‘n said, “Tracey (that’s my mama), life is too fair!” We all stopped ‘n stared, waitin’ to hear what Grandma thought was so fair ‘bout children dyin’. 

Well, Grandma took in a big breath ‘n looked straight at Mama. “Remember when Loraine was born ‘n those heart doctors said she had bout as much chance a makin’ it to her first birthday as a mouse in a cat’s mouth? Well she lived thirteen years! And Rubin! You didn’t want nothin’ but girls but you fell in love with that little rascal the minute you laid eyes on him ‘n pretty soon you was braggin’ bout his boyish charm. You had the gift of a perfect son who kept you ‘n Ray (that’s my daddy) on your toes with all his questions bout science ‘n how everthing in the whole world worked.” 

We was all cryin’ hard by then but Grandma kept on talkin’ right through her own tears. “Look at Ruby. She went out ‘n got herself a best friend. When Loraine ‘n Rubin was still here she was shy ‘n kept to herself but no more.” Grandma stopped to blow her nose. She looked at me. “Darlin’, don’t you see that Jessie Mobley is your rainbow? And I bet you’re hers too. You know you don’t have to be related to be sisters. I can tell that you are sisters in your hearts.” Everbody sat tight cause we knew Grandma wadn’t done. Sure ‘nough she took a deep breath ‘n kept on sayin’ all that was in her heart to say. “Just cause somethin’ bad happens don’t mean somethin’ good won’t come of it.” 

When Grandma was done you coulda heard a pin drop on the carpet. Mama ‘n Daddy just stared at Grandma like she’d said somethin’ sour. But then they looked at each other. Mama nodded ‘n Daddy went ‘n got that trunk with all Loraine’s ‘n Rubin’s stuff—their toys ‘n trophies, their pictures ‘n report cards ‘n baby books. Mama gave me Rubin’s ‘n my birthday picture from last year ‘n told me I could hang it in my room if I wanted to. I hugged that picture to my heart ‘n just bawled. Grandma came over ‘n hugged me. “It’s okay to miss them…but just their bodies died, honey—not their souls. They don’t want you to be sad darlin’. They’re up there with your Daddy’s mama ‘n daddy ‘n Jessie Mobley’s brother, Ty. Can’t you just see Grannie and Poppa huggin’ them ‘n tickelin’ them until they can’t stop laughin’?” 

I could see Grannie ‘n Poppa makin’ a fuss ‘n smilin’ like they used to do with me but it didn’t make me feel no better. I took the picture a Rubin ‘n me ‘n set it on the table by my bed. I could hear Grandma ranblin’ on so I touched that picture ‘n said real soft like, “Rubin, I’m gonna try not bein’ mad at you for bein’ the only kid on that dern bus that died. I guess you had a reason for goin’ but I wish you coulda waited till you were at least ninety-nine.”

Rest in Peace, Rubin.

10 The Super Bowl Party

I don’t know why we had to have a Super Bowl party…nobody liked the teams that was playin’. Daddy ‘n Grandpa root for the Carolina Panthers ‘n Mama ‘n Grandma said they’d rather be watchin’ the Puppy Bowl ‘n Downtown Abbey instead of a silly ‘ole football game. Grampa told me that  he wanted to see Peyton Manning throw some magic but I guess that didn’t happen much—even from the very beginin’. 

It was all pretty borin’ ‘cept for the commercials. Most times when the commercials come on everbody gets up to go to the bathroom or gets somethin’ to eat. But Grandma says these commercials are special ‘n better’n the game. 

Grandma pulled me into the middle a the livin’ room when Bruno Mars started playin’ the drums ‘n got me dancin’ with her. She tried to get Mama dancin’ too but Mama didn’t wanna dance. Grandma says Mama don’t know how to have fun but I member when Mama used to dance with Loraine ‘n me. I think she didn’t wanna dance cause she don’t want Loraine to think she don’t miss her. She don’t want Loraine or Rubin to think she’s happy now. 

I was wonderin’ ‘bout Daddy. Rubin used to play football ‘n Daddy used to coach his team. Daddy didn’t say nothin’ ‘bout Rubin ‘n I didn’t neither. 

I just danced ‘n danced with Grandma ‘n we laughed ‘n laughed. 

B’fore bed Grandma invited me into the new guest room, the one that used to be Rubin’s bedroom. I didn’t wanna go in. I hadn’t been in there since Mama took all a Rubin’s stuff out. But Grandma said I had to go in. That it was time. Rubin’s green walls was eggshell now. There was a nice bed ‘n two night stands with little lamps. It all made me feel cold. Then Grandma said, “Lookie at the wall behind you.” When I saw it I smiled ‘n I had to go touch it from one end to the other. Grandma done covered the whole wall with memories—all our baby pictures ‘n school pictures ‘n vacation pictures ‘n drawin’s we made ‘n the ribbons we all won in the Scouts. There’s pictures a Mama ‘n Daddy when they was little ‘n even Grandma ‘n Grandpa’s weddin’ pictures. I just couldn’t stop lookin’ ‘n memberin’ all the happy times. 

Grandma put her arm round me ‘n said, “I hope I didn’t upset you last week when I said all that stuff bout Loraine ‘n Rubin bein’ in Heaven.” I looked at her real hard. “I don’t want ‘em to be there. I miss ‘em too much.” Grandma squeezed my shoulder ‘n said, “When the people we love become a memory…our memories become treasures. Just think ‘bout that a minute. 

Grandma ‘n me sat on the bed ‘n we just looked ‘n looked at that wall. After a while she said, “This here room isn’t a guest room. It’s our treasure room. This room holds our hearts.” Well, wouldn't ya know I started cryin’. Grandma stood up ‘n took my hand. “Let’s dance. Let’s do a cloggin’ dance for Rubin ‘n Loraine.” And when we stamped our feet on that wood floor, I felt joy all in my insides!

11 Kerrington Bell 

A new family moved into the house next door. I was glad to see there was a girl my age ‘cause first I just saw two boys ‘n a mom ‘n a dad. My mama bought a lotta Girl Scout cookies ‘cause I was havin’ trouble sellin’ ‘em. She packed up a few boxes ‘n we took ‘em over to welcome the new family. Mrs. Bell said to call her Dottie ‘n Mama did. Then I met Kerrington. She’s gonna go to Hawboro School just like me. “Wanna go to school together on Monday?” she asked. “Sure.” I said. “But I ride my bike. I don’t ride the bus.” She looked at me kinda funny like. “Why?” she asked. I just shook my head and went on back home. 

Saturday mornin’ I got into Mama’s bag of scraps. Mama likes to sew quilts sometimes ‘n she collects all kinda material just in case she wants to use it one day. I found a piece of baby pink velvet ‘n Mama said I could have it for a project. I wanted to make bathrobes for Bondi ‘n JB for when we get outta my warm bed on cold mornins’. I started cuttin’ ‘n a sewin’ right away ‘n finished up the second robe Sunday afternoon. Bondi let me put his on him but not JB…he was squrmin’ ‘n fussin’. 

In the middle of all that I heard a loud bang on the front window. I knew it was a bird ‘n I went out to see ‘cause a long time ago a bird flew into the back window by all the bird feeders ‘n got killed. After that Mama bought some bright ribbons to hang from the windows out back ‘n that kept the birds from flyin’ into the glass ever since. My hands got all sweaty ‘cause there’s no ribbons out front. Kerrington ‘n her brothers were playin’ in their yard ‘n she heard the thump too ‘n came runnin’ over. “Was it a bird that hit the window?” she asked. “I think so,” I said lookin’ around on the ground. I spotted a bright red cardinal layin’ real still. I had JB’s bathrobe in my hand so I picked that birdie up ‘n wrapped the robe around him ‘n carried him into the house. Kerrington followed me but she didn’t say nothin’. The birdie opened his eyes ‘n closed ‘em a couple times but he was so pitiful lookin’. I sat in the rockin’ chair ‘n we rocked ‘n rocked. JB ‘n Bondi jumped up to my lap to see the birdie but JB jumped back down and rubbed his face on Kerrington’s jeans. Bondi cuddled up to the birdie ‘n purred to him. After a while the birdie stopped his shiverin’ ‘n let out a little peep. Mama came in ‘n said, “Kerrington. What a nice surprise you are.” Then she looked out the window. “It’s startin' to snow. It’s gonna be beautiful later…supposed to snow all day.” She turned round ‘n saw me rockin’ that bird. “What’cha doin’?” she asked. I told her bout the birdie crashin’ into the window ‘n she said, “Lemmy see.” So I pulled back the robe so she could see the bright red feathers. “Oh honey he doesn’t look like he’s hurt too bad.” The birdie chirped again. “Do you think he can fly?” I asked. “Just one way to find out,” Mama said. “Why don’t you girls take him outside and set him free.” I was scared he wouldn’t be well enough to fly but I took him outside anyway ‘n opened the robe. Well, that birdie took off flyin’ ‘n flew straight up to the top of a tree. I was so happy my insides started to melt.  

We was both all smiles then, Kerrington ‘n me. “I know why you ride your bike to school…a boy down the street told my brother about your brother.” I just looked at her a minute then went on back inside. 

The next mornin’ when I got on my bike Kerrington called out to me. I rode over to her ‘n she said, “There’s still snow on the ground.” “So,” I said back. “I was just thinkin’…,” she said. “If you want to ride the bus today you can sit with me.” I gasped in my breath ‘n felt cold all over. I just rode away without never sayin’ nothin’. After ‘bout three blocks my teeth was chatterin’. The snow was gone off the street but it was deep on the sidewalk ‘n I could only walk my bike. I membered what Kerrington told me. I saw the kids at the next bus stop to mine so I parked my bike behind a tree ‘n went to stand in line just when the bus pulled up. I was real nervous walkin’ up them steps but when I got all the way into the aisle I saw Kerrington wavin’. She had a big smile on her face. I sat down next to her ‘n she grabbed my hand ‘n squeezed it ‘n said, “I’m glad you came. You’re so brave, Ruby.”

BRAVE by Sara Bareilles

“….Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is….”

My new friend: Kerrington Bell

12 Tryin’ Not to be a Mess

I'm tryin' to be happy again, like I was b'fore Loraine 'n Rubin went off to Heaven. Mama says that it's okay to be a mess right now. That we can't just turn our hearts off like we was robots. But most people don't get it. Most people want us to just shut up 'bout our grievin' 'n turn our tears off. It still seems like yesterday that one then the other died. I been thinkin' I got a lot more grievin' to do.

Last week I rode the school bus 'cause Kerrington asked me to. Mama 'n Daddy said I was brave just like Kerrington said but I don't feel so brave. I was shaky 'n scared that somethin' bad was gonna happen to Kerrington same like it happened to Rubin 'n it'd be all my fault. But nothin' did happen 'n I'm glad 'bout that.

It snowed last week so we didn't have school for three days. Kerrington came to spend the night 'n we played some games but mostly we watched ice skatin' on the Olympics. The next day after the big snow storm, when the roads cleared up some, Jessie Mobley's daddy brought her over 'n the three a us played in the snow. We tried to build a snowman but Kerrington's brothers crashed it. She got so mad at 'em but I sat down 'n cried. Not 'cause they was mean but 'cause she had brothers. Them boys called me a wah-wah-baby 'n that just made me cry all the harder 'cause I started memberin' last year when me 'n Rubin 'n Loraine made a big ole snowman that didn't melt for a week. Kerrington made her brothers go home 'n me 'n her 'n Jessie Mobley went inside 'cause I didn’t feel like playin' in the snow no more. I picked up Bondi 'n JB 'n we snuggled in Mama's rockin' chair while I tried to stop cryin'. Bondi looked up at me 'n put his paw on my cheek just like he knew why I was so sad.

“My brothers are stupid,” Kerrington said. I just looked at her 'n sniffed. When I could talk without cryin' I told her that sometimes I thought my brother was stupid too. I hugged them kitties to me 'n dried the top a their heads where my tears dripped all over 'em. “I miss him so much it makes my heart ache…stupid 'n all. I miss Loraine too. She liked to boss me sometime 'n tease me till I cried but I wish I had her back. I still got some things I wanna say to 'em both.”

“At least you have 'em in your heart,” Jessie Mobley said. “Like I have Ty. We can still talk to 'em 'n I’m pretty sure they can hear us, so tell then everything you wanna say.”

“Where do I tell 'em?” I asked. “Do I hafta go to the graveyard?” Jessie Mobley 'n Kerribgton stopped talkin' 'n just looked at each other. Then Kerrington said, “If they're in your heart…can'cha just think what you want to say?” Jessie Mobley nodded. “Or you can go in the memory room…,” Kerrington said. We all just sit there, nobody sayin' nothin' for a little while.

I put the kitties down 'n we all went to my room. “I wanna tell you a secret.” We sat on my bed in the corner 'n leaned against the wall. I took in a real deep breath 'n tried not to cry again. “Loraine 'n Rubin just died one time…but, I feel like I done died twice...but I’m still here.” Kerrington opened her eyes wide 'n Jessie Mobley took in a little gasp. “I get it now,” Jessie Mobley said. She had a big smile on her face. “When Ty died it was like a dark storm…like when everthin' dies in the fall. Then came winter 'n I felt cold 'n lonely 'n mad even. But now it's spring 'n everythin' is comin' alive again.” I looked at her 'n shook my head. “Rubin 'n Loraine 'n Ty ain't comin' alive again,” I said.

 “I’m not talkin' about them, I'm talkin' about us,” Jessie Mobley said. I had to think on that a minute. “I know what you're sayin',” Kerrington said. "When your heart stops achin' so much it'll be like spring 'n you'll feel alive again!”

“But that don't mean I'll forget….”

“No. You won’t forget 'em.” Kerrington smiled. “But when you think of 'em you'll smile 'cause they're alive in your heart.”

The doorbell rang 'n I heard Mama talkin' to some boys. “It's Terrance 'n Jade,” Kerrington said rollin' her eyes,“my little brothers.” Then in they came draggin' their feet 'n lookin' at the floor. The older one nudged the younger one 'n he said they was sorry and if we wanted to come out again they'd help build another snowman. I just looked at 'em knowin' their Mama or Daddy done give 'em a good talkin' to.

“Okay,” I said. “But let's build a great big snow kitty instead.” All of a sudden we was all laughin' 'n talkin' 'n when we went out the front door I heard Mama tell Daddy how nice it was to have a house full a kids again.

Rest in Peace Loraine ‘n Rubin

13 Moving Forward

Dear Loraine,

I’m writin’ this to you ‘cause I can’t just think what I wanna say. I’m sorry you left us but everbody keeps tellin’ me all kinda stuff like you’re better off in Heaven where you can breathe ‘n play basketball to your heart’s content. I don’t know why you had a lame heart ‘n I’m sorry you was so sick all the time. Grandma said you was growin’ up too fast. That you was thirteen goin’ on twenty ‘n you didn’t have time for us little kids. Grandma says we should be thankful that you lived to be a teenager ‘n didn’t die when you was a baby like them doctors thought. I member the day you turned thirteen—you was so happy ‘n proud like a movie star. But most times b’fore that you was mad ‘bout bein’ weak ‘n outta breath, mad ‘cause you couldn’t play basketball on a team. But why did you get so mad at me ‘n Rubin all the time? It wadn’t our fault we could run ‘n play ‘n you couldn’t. I’m sorry we was healthy. 

I wish I coulda told you how sorry I felt that you didn’t have a strong heart like mine. When I saw you on the basketball court…you know…after you died…was you showin’ me how healthy ‘n happy you are now? Or…did I just wish all that, ‘cause I never did see Rubin bein’ happy after he died. I don’t know what else to say ‘cept I wish you could come back with a brand new heart ‘n we could be better sisters. We always had laughin’ didn’t we? The best times we ever had was when we played the laughin’ game. Member? We’d laugh so hard till we could hardly stop. When we was laughin’ we was lovin’ each other…wadn’t we? Please say yes. I wish you coulda been a basketball star like Sue Bird. 

Please write me back if God will let you.


After I wrote that letter my hands was a shakin’ while I sealed it up ‘n pasted it to the back a Loraine’s last school picture that Mama had hangin’ on the livin’ room wall. I knew I had said everthing I needed to say but my heart felt so heavy I could barely make it back to my bedroom ‘fore I started cryin’ so hard that I got hot 'n my throat got raw 'n my sides ached like I’d been runnin’ for a hundred miles. Bondi ‘n JB jumped up on my bed ‘n tried to lick the tears off my cheeks. I clung to them kitties but I couldn’t stop my cryin’ or the heavin’ of my chest for the longest time. When I finally got through I knowed I’d always miss Loraine ‘n that she’d always be alive in my heart. I membered Jessie Mobly sayin’ that Ty was with God ‘n that was enough for her. I started believin' that that’s true ‘bout Loraine ‘n Rubin too.

I didn’t need to write no letter to Rubin. I still feel as close to him now as I did b’fore ‘n I knowed that the only thing that could be worse than losin’ Rubin was to never have had him in the first place. So I’m thankful he was my twin brother ‘n there’s not much more I need to tell him ‘cause he already knows all what’s in my heart—he took a piece a it with him.

Layin’ there on my bed with ‘n Bondi ‘n JB snuggled against me I imagined Rubin ‘n Loraine bein’ with God. I wadn’t afraid to live without ‘em no more but I also knowed I’d always miss ‘em. My heart started vibratin’ in time with Bondi’s ‘n JB’s purrin’ ‘n I fell hard asleep. When I woke up the sun was settin’ ‘n the sky was all pink ‘n orangey, ‘n red. My heart felt so light…like it was a balloon floatin’ up to the sky ‘n I knowed everthing was gonna be alright.

Our last picture together

14 Grandma’s Red Convertible

When my grandma turned fifteen she took the bus up to the Woolworths Five ‘n Dime in Durham ‘n got herself a job. It was the summer ‘fore some a Martin Luther King’s friends sat at the lunch counter there protestin’ segregation . Things was different back then. Black folks ‘n white folks weren’t allowed to sit together ‘n eat a sandwich ‘n drink a Coke. It’s good that them people did that sit-in ‘cause if they didn’t me ‘n Kerrington probably wouldn’t be livin’ next door to the other ‘n we probably wouldn’t be friends. But that’s not what I wanna talk ‘bout. I wanna talk ‘bout Grandma seein’ some cut-glass perfume bottles on one a the counters at that Woolworths. They was the most beautiful things she ever did see. On the day she got paid for the first time she bought two perfume bottles—a pretty aqua one ‘cause that’s her birthstone color ‘n a clear glass one. When she got on the bus to come home she took them bottles outta the bag ‘n unwrapped them from the tissue paper. She just held ‘em one in each hand all the way home ‘n thought how for the rest a her life she’d always have nice things. She showed me them bottles one day ‘n they was just as pretty as they was fifty-five years ago.

Well, today is Grandma’s seventieth birthday. She been talkin’ ‘bout a havin’ a red convertible for a long time ‘n when she woke up this mornin’ Grandpa said to look out the front window. Low ‘n behold there was this bright red convertible with a big bow tied to the sterrin’ wheel. She went right out in her pajamas ‘n fluffy slippers ‘n took Grandpa for a spin round the block. After lunch she ‘n Grandpa drove down here to Hawboro ‘n picked me ‘n Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington up from school ‘n took us for a drive up to Durham. She wanted to show us the place where that old Woolworths used to be on Main Street—the place where she started thinkin’ ‘bout how the rest a her life would be.

She drove round the corner ‘n parked the car ‘n then took us to the Parlour for double dip ice cream cones.

We was sittin’ at the table eatin’ our ice cream when Grandma said, “In the summertime I’m gonna drive us from one end a North Carolina to the other. “From the top a Mt. Pisgah over to the Outer Banks ‘n across the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island.” Kerrington ‘n Jessie Mobley looked at each other ‘n then at me. “All a us are goin’?” Jessie Mobley asked. “Me, too? I’m goin’ too?” Kerrington smiled real big. “Yep! We’re all goin’.” Grandma said.

“I hope I’m as rich as you are when I grow up,” Jessie Mobley said. “Who’s rich?” Grandma asked ‘n put her cone back in the dish. She sat up straight ‘n dabbed at her mouth with a napkin. I knowed she was gonna tell that story ‘bout buyin’ them perfume bottles at the Woolworths ‘n she did. Then she said matter-a-fact like, “If you want to be rich, you’ll be rich. If you want to have nice things, you’ll have nice things. It’s all your choice. How do you think I got this convertible? I been thinkin’ ‘bout how I was gonna look drivin’ a fancy car like that ‘n where I was gonna drive it. I never had one worry ‘bout how I was gonna afford it. Listen honey,” Grandma put her hand on Jessie Mobley’s ‘n kept right on talkin’. “The rest a your life is the rest a your life. You ‘n only you are in control a it. Choose to be happy or choose to be sad, choose to be kind or choose to be mean, but most a all choose joy!” Grandma smiled then reached out to hold hands with Kerrington too. “You young ladies, all a y'all,” she said ‘n looked at both a them ‘n then at me, “are entitled to…every…good…thing.”

On the way home I thought ‘bout them perfume bottles ‘n I thought ‘bout Martin Luther King sayin’, “I have a dream.”  If Grandma says we’re entitled…then what ‘bout Rubin ‘n Loraine? Loraine dreamed everday ‘bout bein’ a basketball star ‘n Rubin dreamed ‘bout inventin’ sometin’ ‘n bein’ famous. Wadn’t they entitled too? Wadn’t they entitled to grow up ‘n be rich ‘n drive ‘round in a fancy red convertible? I never dreamed ‘bout nothin’.  I got some deep thinkin’ to do on that.

15 Choose Joy!

Last Saturday Daddy was workin’ in the garage ‘n found one a Loraine’s toy basketballs from when she was a young’un. He tossed it to me just the way he woulda tossed it to her. “Guess I can have it now,” I said, memberin’ when I asked her if I coulda had it ‘n she said, “No way.” I knowed she didn’t want it no more but she still wouldn’t let me or Rubin have it. 

I tossed that ball into the yard ‘n started kickin’ it real hard. “I got your dumb ball, Loraine,” I hollered feelin’ kinda hateful inside. I looked up to the sky ‘n added, “I’ll take real good care a it for ya.” Then I kicked it over to Kerrington’s house ‘n yelled for her at the front door. “Wanna play kickball?” I asked when she poked her head out the door. “Sure,” she said ‘n looked up to the sky. I thought for a second she was gonna ask Loraine if it was okay but she was just noticin’ the sun. “I was startin’ to think that the sun didn’t shine in Hawboro.” I kicked the ball to her ‘n then we took turns kickin’ it outta the yard ‘n down the street. We was in our shorts ‘n tee shirts for the first time all year. We didn’t do much talkin’, we just kept kickin’ that ball down to the end a the street ‘n round the corner ‘n round the next corner.

“Would ya take a look at that,” Kerrington said just a starin’ at this old broke-down house. “Look at all the daffodils! There must be a million of ‘em.” Kerrington picked up the ball ‘n carried it up to the front porch that was saggin’ in the middle. “Who would plant all these flowers round this shack?”

I couldn’t say nothin’. I just thought ‘bout the last time I seen this house. I was with Rubin ‘n there weren’t no flowers then. He said it was haunted ‘n wanted to go inside ‘n look for ghosts. Rubin was like that, always thinkin’ he coulda had an adventure. He made up a story ‘bout the whole family getting’ murdered ‘n still bein’ in there. “Don’t ya wanna see a dead body?” He asked me just a laughin’ cause he knowed I was ascared a creepy places.

“What’s wrong, Ruby?” Kerrington asked. “You look like you just done seen a ghost.” I started laughin’ then ‘n I told her all ‘bout how much fun Rubin used to be ‘n I told her ‘bout the dead bodies inside a the house.  “I’m sorry I didn’t know him,” she said. “My brothers are brats. They don’t know how to do nothin’ but be stupid ‘n bother me.”

“Do you think Rubin was right ‘bout there bein’ dead bodies ‘n ghosts in there?” I asked. “I dunno.” Kerrington said. “Why?” I felt goose bumps pop up all over me. “Cause a the flowers.” Kerrington looked at me like I was crazy. “What are you talkin’ ‘bout?” The goose bumps got worse. “Well,” I said, “even though me ‘n Rubin are…were the same age…he was kinda like a big brother. He liked to tease me but if he knowed I was ascared a somethin’ he always did somethin’ or said somethin’ to make me feel better.” 

Kerrington jumped off the porch ‘n bounced the ball on the crumblin’ walk way. “I don’t know what ya mean.” She just looked at me. “The flowers!" I said.” I looked at all of ‘em ‘n I knowed Rubin had somethin’ to do with ‘em. “Rubin is a ghost now too you know.” Kerrington looked at me all funny like. “Do ya think Rubin planted these flowers?” She asked me like she was ‘fraid to hear the answer.

I smiled real big ‘n leaned down to pick one. “Rubin knowed I was ascared a this house. He woulda done somethin’ like this…for me, to tell me I shouldn’t be ’fraid.” The goose bumps tingled again ‘n I started memberin’ Rubin’ ‘n laughin’ at things he done ‘n I told all that to Kerrington on our walk back home. I felt Rubin alive in my heart…where he always used to be ‘n where he still is.

Grandma was right ‘bout choosin’ to be happy or choosin’ to be sad. After I got done tellin’ Kerrington all ‘bout Rubin I felt happy for the first time since he died. I guess you could say I choosed joy. 

16 Ruby, Kerrington, and Jessie Mobley Visit Ty’s Grave

When I woked up this mornin’ it was kinda dreary but some a the trees outside was covered in pink flowers. Mama says spring is comin’ ‘n soon the redbuds ‘n dogwoods ‘n the wisteria will paint the world in pastels. She said she’s tired a the dreary wintertime ‘n can’t wait for spring.  
After breakfast Kerrington ‘n me rode our bikes over to Jesse Mobley’s house ‘n she walked with us down to a park with trails ‘n a fort ‘n a zip line that we played on all mornin’. Her little black dog, Pepper, went with us ‘n we took turns throwin’ a stick to her ‘n she never got tired a bringin’ it back. After lunch we went explorin’ ‘n Jessie Mobley showed us where her brother Ty is buried. It’s a spooky old graveyard with lots a statues a angels ‘n cherubs. Some a them people done been buried there for more’n two hundred years. There was a whole lots a dead Mobleys there with one big angel watchin’ over ‘em all. That angel was so sad-like it made me wanna cry. Then we found Ty’s grave. It was just a flat stone with his name on it ‘n it said, “Tyler Matthew Mobley, Asleep with Jesus.” When I read that I wanted to run away from that place. Dead people ain’t sleepin’. They’s doin’ ghost work or angel work ‘pendin on how they lived here. I done seen Loraine ‘n Rubin after they died ‘n they wadn’t sleepin’. They was alive! Not alive like me but alive like the angels ‘n they wadn’t cryin’! Loraine was doin’ what she couldn’t do here—playin’ basketball ‘n smilin’ real big ‘n Rubin done planted a whole yard full a daffodils so I wouldn’t be ascaerd a that haunted house!

There was some other angels in that graveyard—one was leanin’ over the gravestone sobbin’ up a storm ‘n another one holdin’ a little baby that died on the same day it was born. I didn’t like it there ‘n I was glad Mama ‘n Daddy got Loraine ‘n Rubin’s earth bodies turned to ashes. We’re gonna take ‘em to the beach on Easter ‘n sprinkle ‘em over the ocean down at Wilmington. I like to think a them floatin’ on a ocean wave ‘n not bein’ eaten up by worms in a creepy graveyard.

Jessie Mobley told Ty that she was doin’ alright ‘n she wished he’d come to visit her like Loraine ‘n Rubin done did to me. “Maybe he did come,” I said. “Maybe you just didn’t notice.” Well, Jessie Mobley got mad at me for sayin’ that ‘n I was glad Kerrington was there to say somethin’ ‘cause I couldn’t think a nothin’ to say. “I knowed a lady once,” she said, “whose baby boy died ‘n ever since then a blue butterfly been landin’ on her arm. She said that was her baby comin’ back to earth to tell her he was still alive.” Well, Jessie Mobley just looked at Kerrington like she didn’t get it or maybe didn’t believe it. So Kerrington tried again. “Ty was different than Loraine ‘n Rubin ‘n that baby. So maybe he’s sayin’ somethin’ in a different kinda way. Maybe you should listen ‘n watch a little bit harder.” When Jessie Mobley heard that she just knitted up her eyebrows. Then she turned to look at Ty’s grave again. When she turned back round she was wipin’ a tear from her eye. “What if Ty don’t have nothin’ to say?”

Kerrington ‘n me just looked at each other ‘n didn’t say nothin’ for a bit. But Pepper started just a barkin’ ‘n then she stood up on her back legs ‘n let out little whiney sounds. “I think she sees Ty,” Jessie Mobley said. “She always done that when Ty came home from the hospital.” Kerrington stood there watchin’ that dog with her mouth open ‘n Jessie Mobley called, “Pepper! Come here, girl. "Is it Ty? Do you see him? Do you?” Pepper came to Jessie Mobley then whinin’ like a little baby. Jessie Mobley knelt to pet Pepper. “You saw Ty. Didn’t you girl?” She hugged that dog’s neck ‘n Pepper plastered her face with drooly licks. When Jessie Mobley stood up again she was smilin’. She spread her arms out ‘n looked to the sky then back to us. 

“That was Ty…my brother.” She put her hands to her chest. “I can feel him,” she said with joy tears floodin’ her face. “It was Ty...I can feel him in my heart.”

17 The Last Straw

One day last week it was cold ‘n I had to wear my jacket to school even though the sun was shinin’ bright. The next day it was cloudy but warm ‘nough to wear shorts. The day after that it rained real hard ‘n the wind done took a tree down right in our backyard. Mama said we was lucky that the tree didn’t fall on the house. “That woulda been the last straw,” Daddy said, then went out to take care of it with his chain saw.

“What did Daddy mean ‘bout the tree fallin’ bein’ the last straw?” I asked Mama. “Daddy’s havin’ a hard time dealin’ with losin’ your sister ‘n brother. His heart done broke twice. What he meant was if the tree had fallen on the house he wouldn’t a been able to deal with another misfortune.” I thought ‘bout that a minute while Mama watched Daddy outta the window gettin’ the saw started. “I still don’t get it,” I said. “I mean ‘bout the straw.” Mama turned round ‘n sat at the kitchen table. “There’s a sayin’ ‘bout a camel carryin’ a load a straw on his back,” Mama said. “A farmer put a whole lot a straw on the camel’s back to take to market. The camel could carry a big load but when the farmer put one last straw on the camel’s back it was too much ‘n the camel’s back broke under the extra weight.” I had to think again. “You mean that if one more bad thing happens Daddy will die?” Mama reached out for me ‘n pulled me to her ‘n hugged me real tight. “No, Ruby. Daddy isn’t gonna die just ‘cause somethin’ aggrevatin’ happens. It’s just an expression—‘bout the last straw. Losin’ Loraine ‘n Rubin so close together is weighin’ heavy on all of us. Daddy’s havin’ the worst time dealin’ with it that’s all.” I pulled a chair close to Mama’s ‘n sat on it. “Honey,” Mama said. “You know what grievin’ is don’t you?” I nodded. “Well everybody grieves differently. Your daddy is still in the begin’ stages but he’s alright. He just needs more time.” I started cryin’ just a little bit ‘n Mama hugged me again. “One day soon he’s gonna smile again ‘n tell us ‘bout all the fun ‘n funny things he members ‘bout Loraine ‘n Rubin. You’ll see.”

Daddy came back inside then ‘n washed his hands at the sink. He turned round ‘n smiled. “If Loraine was here she woulda been out there yellin’ at me to be careful a that saw ‘n to watch out that the tree didn’t fall on me.” He said. “That girl was ‘fraid a everthin’, ‘specially power tools.” He shook his head memberin’. “That job woulda taken me twice as long with her out there orderin’ me ‘round.” He squeezed my shoulder. “Hey, what ya say you ‘n me ‘n Mama go see that movie ‘bout them Legos.” I hopped up ‘n hugged Daddy. “Really? Like we used to when….” Daddy smiled ‘n said, “Yeah. Just like we used to.”

We ended up takin’ Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington to see The Lego Movie with us. Daddy bought us popcorn ‘n lemonade ‘n a box a M&Ms. It wadn’t ‘xactly like the old times but Daddy laughed out loud at all the funny parts just ‘bout like he used to.

18 Flight 370

How can a airplane just disappear? I wish Rubin was here to tell me ‘bout it…how it crashed ‘n why it was flyin’ in the wrong direction. People from all over the world can’t figure what done went wrong. Even if Rubin wadn’t dead he’d still have an idea ‘bout it. Rubin ‘n Daddy woulda been sittin’ in front a the computer lookin’ stuff up ‘n ‘analyzin’ the data.’ Rubin was always analyzin’ somethin’.

When that plane crashed, I hope it was a peaceful dyin’ for all them people like the way Rubin died. I mean I hope they didn’t have no sufferin’ or bein’ scared. I can see Rubin in heaven talkin’ to them pilots ‘n tryin’ to get everbody’s take on everthing. Rubin never did run outta questions. I recon he’s even askin’ God questions.

I wonder does everbody talk to God in heaven? I mean like walk right up to him ‘n just say whatever they want to? I wonder if people in heaven are still people or are they angels? And I wonder if they ask God ‘bout us…if Rubin asks God ‘bout me?

While he was here he mostly done the talkin’ for both a us. I didn’t do much talkin’ back then. I just listened to him ‘n Daddy ‘n Grampa discussin’ stuff ‘n arguin’ ‘bout what they was talkin’ ‘bout’. That was ‘nuff for me. Sides I didn’t know what to say most a the time anyway.

When Rubin died I watched him take a piece a my heart right outta me ‘n now sometimes I feel like that part a me has done gone missin’. I ain’t the same like I was. I’m different. Grandma says I’m outgoin’ now ‘cause I don’t have Rubin to hide behind. This time I think Grandma’s wrong. I wadn’t hidin’ behind Rubin. I guess you could say that Rubin was my hero. I liked listin’ to him more’en anybody. He made me laugh. I have friends now ‘n kittens too ‘n I love ‘em all. But I only have ‘em cause a Rubin bein’ gone.

Is this a answer to what grief is? 

19 The Smilin’ Lion

Last Saturday Julie Mobley’s mama took me’ ‘n her ‘n Kerrington to the zoo down at Ashboro. She took us a picnic lunch ‘n a dozen cupcakes ‘n when we got done eatin’ we was almost too stuffed to go see the animals.

I couldn’t help memberin’ the last time I was there with Loraine ‘n Rubin ‘n Mama ‘n Daddy. It was me ‘n Rubin’s last birthday together. Rubin wanted to see the lions first cause he liked ‘em the best. After we seen all the other animals we had to see the lions one last time ‘fore we went on back home. The biggest lion done had his lunch ‘n was stretched out on a rock sunnin’ himself. All the other lions were gone. Daddy said they was inside the cave in the shade. Rubin called to the lion ‘n asked him for one more roar but that lion just opened his eyes a little bit ‘n then went back to his nappin’.

Well, on Saturday when we went by the lions that same lion was sunnin’ himself on that same rock. He looked at me ‘n then stood up ‘n let out a roar. Then he looked up to the sky ‘n closed his eyes ‘n smiled ‘n I knowed he was smilin’ at Rubin up there cause he didn’t see him down here with me.

Grampa says that Rubin ‘n me have a special connection ‘n that’s why I keep havin’ these mountain top experences. He wants to have a mountain top experence too but he don’t never have none since he got old. He said he used to have ‘em when he was a boy but ever since he growed up he don’t have ‘em no more.

Rubin, do you think maybe you could ask God to help him have one again? Cause I don’t think Grandpa is much happy not havin’ ‘em.

I miss you, Rubin. Did you hear the lion roar for you? I know I done told you this b’fore but there’s an empty space in my heart where you used to be. Sometimes it hurts so bad but other times, like today thinkin’ ‘bout that lion smilin’ ‘n roarin’ at you makes that empty place in my heart just a dazzle ‘n that’s when I know you're still with me. Evertime I feel that dazzlin’ in my heart I’m gonna smile real big for you just like that lion done ‘n that’ll be my birthday present to you for every one a our birthdays from now on. 

P.S. Please can you tell God that I’m mighty obliged ‘bout that lion ‘memberin’ us? 

20 Palm Sunday Adventure

I couldn’t wait for Palm Sunday to get here. Everbody at church was gonna sing the Hosanna song while the children’s choir was gonna walk up the aisle carrin’ palm branches. Well when I waked up on Palm Sunday mornin’ I wasn’t feelin’ so good. My stomach had a ache ‘n I didn’t want no breakfast. Mama said, “Are you alright, Ruby?” I made myself smile ‘n said, “Sure am.” Mama felt my forehead ‘n shook her head. “Does anybody in your class at school have a cold or the flu?” Daddy asked. I told him I didn’t think so. Well, we piled in the truck ‘n when I set down I knowed I wasn’t right, but I was so e’cited to carry a palm branch ‘n sing that Hosanna song we been practicin’ since Christmas with all the other kids that I kept my mouth shut.

When it got time for church, after Sunday School, I put on my white choir robe ‘n went ‘n picked out a palm branch. Then I heard the big pipe organ ‘n the choir ‘n all the people stood up to sing the Hosanna song. It was so pretty hearin’ everbody sing. Then it was time to carry the palms to the front a the church ‘n I felt that pain in my stomach get real bad so I held the palm branch under one arm ‘n held onto the hurtin’ place with the other hand ‘n started walkin’ with the other kids. Everbody smiled when they saw all us kids with all them palms. When we lined up at the front a the church I got so dizzy ‘n was afraid I was gonna throw up in front a the preacher. Well, the preacher came over to me just about when I started seein’ stars. Next thing I knowed Daddy ‘n Mama was takin’ me to the car.

I had a hard time walkin’ ‘cause the pain got more worse ‘n I got so dizzy that I just closed my eyes. Then I saw this bright white light like the Milky Way. I started floatin’ ‘n pretty soon I caught up with Rubin. He was just a smilin’ when he seen me ‘n then we hugged ‘n laughed ‘n pretty soon we caught up with Loraine ‘n she was real nice to us ‘n started jumpin’ cause she was so happy to see us. She said, “Just wait till you see who’s up ahead. We was flyin’ then past lots a people we didn’t know ‘n then we sawed Ty Mobley ‘n Grannie ‘n Poppa. I could hardly believe it. We all started cryin’ ‘n laughin’ ‘n huggin’ each other ‘n then I looked back. My heart was so happy! I saw Bondi ‘n JB just a runnin’ ‘n then Grampa ‘n Grandma ‘n Daddy ‘n Mama ‘n Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington ‘n everbody. We was all glowin’ like sparklers. I don’t never think I was this happy in all my life.

Then I heard Mama say, “You’re okay, Ruby. You’re okay!” Well, I didn’t know why I was okay but I did know that I was freezin’ cold ‘n I told Mama so. She put a warm blanket over me ‘n I felt so much better. I opened my eyes ‘n didn’t see the white light no more. “Where am I?” I asked. “You’re in the hospital in Siler City,” she said. “The hospital?” Mama rubbed my shoulder. “You had appendicitis,” she said, ’n the doctor took your appendix out.” I opened my eyes ‘n saw Daddy all teary-eyed. “The doctor thought your appendix ruptured…but it didn’t. You’re gonna be just fine. We’re gonna take you home in a little while.”

I kinda couldn’t member stuff right ‘n I asked Mama if I got to carry the palm. She got a big smile then. Daddy squeezed my toes through the blanket. “You was the best palm carrier I ever did see,” he said. Then I hear Grandma say my name. “Ruby! Oh Ruby honey. I’m so glad you’re alright.” Me ‘n Grandpa came as fast as we could.” They was kissin’ my face ‘n pattin’ my head.
Well, I was glad that everbody was there ‘n I was glad that my appendix didn’t rupture cause I think that woulda been a bad thing. But I didn’t see the bright light no more ‘n I didn’t see Rubin ‘n Loraine. That kinda made me sad. I got to wonderin’ if I just dreamed it all up or if I was floatin’ up that white light b’fore I was supposed to.

I kinda liked everbody makin’ a fuss over me ‘cause I knowed there are kids who don’t have a mama ‘n a daddy ‘n grandparents who will hop in the car ‘n drive a couple hours just ‘cause a little kid like me got a stomach ache. The doctor who took my appendix out came to see me too. She shook hands with Daddy ‘n said, “Thank God you got her here in time.” I looked out the window ‘n sawed the prettiest pink dogwood tree. It made my heart feel happy. I looked past the tree ‘n up to the blue sky ‘n said, “Thank you God for lettin’ me sing the Hosanna song ‘n for lettin’ me carry that palm.” Then I went on off back to sleep.

21 Get Over It!

We didn’t getta go to church on Easter ‘cause Mama said I still needed to re’couperate from my appendix getting’ taken out. We colored eggs on Saturday, ‘n Sunday mornin’ I waked up to a great big pink ‘n fluffy Easter bunny right there in bed with me. When I took that bunny out to show Mama ‘n Daddy I seen a Easter basket on the kitchen table with my name on it. It had ever kinda candy I think I ever knowed ‘bout…chocolate bunnies, Peeps, jellybeans, peanut butter eggs ‘n even Mama’s favorite, those chocolate eggs with the yellow ‘n cream inside that come from bunnies instead a chickens.

We ate waffles for breakfast ‘n then Daddy told Mama he had a surprise for her. Well, he opened the back door ‘n when Mama ‘n me went out there was all these flowers in pots ‘n bags a plantin’ soil ‘n even a brand new pair a garden gloves. Well, that done made Mama cry ‘n she throwed her arms round Daddy’s neck ‘n said, Thank you, thank you! I wanna get to work right now.”

After lunch, when Kerrington seen me ‘n Mama ‘n Daddy outside plantin’ the flowers, she came a runnin’ over. She was all dressed up from Sunday school ‘n church. Her Mama made lots a little braids cross the top a her head ‘n she looked mighty pretty but different. “How ya feelin’, Ruby?” she asked me. “I told her just fine ‘n that maybe I could g’on back to school on Tuesday after I go to the doctor on Monday. “You didn’t go to sunday School this mornin’?” she asked all surprised like. “I still gotta re’couperate,” I said back. “But you missed the most important holiday a all.” I got kinda chilly ‘cause the wind was a blowin’ somethin’ fierce so I invited Kerrington to come inside ‘n have some candy ‘n she did. She likes Peeps the best.

“Ruby, it just seems like, well, you woulda at least gone to the sunrise service.” I just looked at her eatin’ them Peeps. “Why?” She swallowed hard ‘n opened her eyes wide. “Cause a Easter we know that we ain’t never gonna die ‘n we’re all goin’ to heaven. That should be somethin’ you should wanna celebrate, I mean with Rubin ‘n Loraine bein’ up there in heaven ‘n all.”

“Kerrington,” I said ‘n just a looked at her. “You don’t hafta go to church to celebrate that. But you know what?” “What?” she said. “Goin’ to church kinda hurts Mama ‘n Daddy,” I said. “Hurts ‘em how?” she asked me. “Well some people at the church wants us to get over bein’ sad, but we ain’t never gonna get over losing Loraine ‘n Rubin. We all got bad broke hearts ‘n Rubin ‘n Loraine are gonna live forever in the cracks a our hearts that ain’t never gonna seal back up. Maybe we won’t get over it, but someday we’re gonna get through it.

Well, Kerrington stopped eatin’ them Peeps ‘n said, “You mean like some people who never get over a broke leg but they learn to walk with a limp?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess that’s ‘xactly what I mean.”

22 Silence


23 Entitlement

I was pretty sure that Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington woulda beeen hankerin’ to talk to me ‘bout Grandma’s oration on entitlement a couple weeks ago but neither one did ‘till yesterday. Kerrington ‘n me was on the school bus comin’ home when she started talkin’. She said that she got to thinkin’ ‘bout what Grandma said ‘bout entitlement ‘n that it wadn’t fair. I looked at her hard ‘n asked her what wadn’t fair? “Well,” she said, “aren’t you…weren’t you entitled to have your sister ‘n ‘specially your twin brother? I mean you’re tellin’ me ‘bout both of ‘em all the time.”

I didn’t have to think long b’fore I knowed that I had them for nine years ‘n that was better than not havin’ them a tall. But I didn’t know how to say that ‘cause when I do people don’t get it. Sometimes I don’t want people to feel sorry for me ‘n sometimes I get mad if they don’t. What’s worse is the people who act like everthing’s hunky-dory, like I never did have a sister or a brother. Those folks think they don’t wanna remind me ‘bout Loraine ‘n Rubin dyin’ but I think ‘bout ‘em all the time just like Kerrington done said. Then there’s some folks who say stupid stuff like, “Your poor sister. She’s better off in heaven—bein’ so sick down here on earth ‘n all,” or “Rubin was such a good boy that God wanted him to help figure things out in heaven.”

Jessie Mobley says that people just wanna comfort us ‘n make us feel better but they just don’t know what to say. Well, why don’t they just say, “Hey Ruby, hey Jessie, how ya doin’?”

When I close my eyes
I see you...
When I open my eyes
I miss you. 

24 A Difficult Surprise

Last week I got a awful scare. Early in the mornin’ on Friday Mama took Bond ‘n JB to the animal hospital to get fixed. When I got home from school with Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington right behind me, Mama was on the phone talkin’ to the Vet doctor. “On no!” Mama said, lookin’ at me ‘n a shakin’ her head. I knowed somethin’ was wrong by the look on Mama’s face. “What is it?” I asked when Mama hung up the phone. “We can go to the Vet but we can only bring Bond home. There was a complication with JB.” “What kinda complication,” Jessie Mobley asked. That’s when I got scared that JB was gonna die. Ever since Loraine ‘n then Rubin died I’m ‘fraid somebody else is gonna die too. I tried not to cry. Mama said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but...” Then she started laughin’ ‘n couldn’t hardly stop. “Please tell us,” Kerrington said ‘n grabbed my hand. “Well,” Mama said when she could stop laughin’, “turns out that JB is a girl.” I opened my eyes so wide. I couldn’t believe it. “A girl?” I asked. “How?” Mama just looked at us a minute ‘n then told us that sometimes it’s “difficult” to know if they are boys or girls when they are little kittens.

“So what’s the complication?” Jessie Mobley asked. “Well,” Mama said, “to fix a boy cat is easy ‘n done on the outside, but with a girl cat it’s major surgery ‘cause they hafta cut the belly open ‘n JB’s gotta spend the night at the animal hospital. “When can he…she come on home?” I asked. “Tomorrow afternoon,” Mama said. Then she told us we could all go ‘n get Bond ‘n maybe get to visit JB. So we piled in the car ‘n off we went.

“Are you still gonna call her JB?” Kerrington asked. “I don’t know…don’t seem right since we named her after a bull rider. “Maybe there’s some girls who ride bulls,” Jessie Mobley said, “and maybe you could name him…her after a girl bull rider.” I just looked outta the window for a minute. “I named him JB ‘cause he jumped up on the rockin’ chair like it was a bull ‘n ‘cause I love JB Mauney but JB just don’t sound right for a girl.”

“Maybe you could name her a girl’s J name ‘n a girl’s B name ‘n still call her JB for a nickname.” Kerrington raised her shoulders up ‘n looked at me real hard. “Okay,” I said, “tell me some girl J names.” We all thought ‘bout it for a second ‘n then Jessie Mobley said, “Jessica, Jasmine, Julie….” Then Kerrington said, “Jade…Jennifer.” I huffed ‘n leaned back in my seat. “I just don’t know,” I said. “It wadn’t right that JB could be a girl, but she’s still a kitty. I felt  kinda sad. “Think ‘bout some B names,” I said ‘cause I didn’t like none a them J names. “How ‘bout Bethany?” Jessie Mobley screwed up her mouth ‘n then thought some more ‘n said, “Beth, Brittany, Betty.” Then Kerrington gets a big smile on her face ‘n says “I know! Bambi!” Then we all laughed ‘n that laughin’ lightened me up some. Then I thought a one. “Bee,” I said. “You know like B-E-E. Jessie Mobley gasped ‘n said, “What ‘bout Jay Bee…J-A-Y  B-E-E?”

I blew air outta my mouth real loud. “I don’t know. Nothin’ sounds right.” Just then we pulled up to the animal hospital ‘n we ran inside. Bond was asleep in his carrier. “All ready to go home,” the lady at the desk told Mama. “Can we visit JB?” I asked. The lady said we could but we had to be very quiet so we tiptoed into a big room with lots a cages stacked up. We crept up to a great big cage ‘n there was JB sound asleep but lookin’ somethin’ awful. I started cryin’ ‘n my eyes got all blurry ‘n all JB’s colors started’ goin’ round ‘n round. “I don’t care if you’re a boy,” I said, “or a girl. You’re still a fine kitty ‘n I’ll love you just the same.” JB tried to lift her head but she was too sleepy. Just standin’ there lookin’ at that kitty made my heart swell ‘n she started lookin’ more ‘n more like a girl. I just wanted to pick her up ‘n hug her ‘n slobber kisses all over her. “I always thought you looked too girly to be a boy,” I said ‘n then threw her a kiss right into the cage. I turned round to Kerrington ‘n Jessie Mobley ‘n said, “I’m gonna call her Jelly Bean. JB can still be her real name ‘n Jelly Bean can be her nickname!” Jessie Mobley let out a giggle ‘n Kerrington clapped real quiet like. “Perfect,” Mama said.

I felt so much better then ‘n I asked Mama if I could get my allowance early so we could stop at the pet store ‘n get Jelly Bean a pink collar with diamonds ‘n bells on it ‘n she said yes!  

Jelly Bean 

25 Firework!

“You’re a firework, Ruby!” Jessie Mobley said. “I mean you’re a lot funner than when we met 'n you got a spark in you now." Kerrington just looked at us shakin' that curly head. "What'cha talkin' 'bout?"

That’s somethin' 'bout Kerrington…she didn’t know me b’fore, I mean she didn’t know me when I was a little sister to a bossy girl ‘n a twin to a boy who made everbody laugh. Back then people felt sorry for Loraine. Even Loraine. She couldn’t always go to school. She was too sick. She couldn’t breathe right ‘n some days couldn’t even walk to the ‘frigerator to get a glass a milk or an apple. She didn’t like apples anyway. She didn’t like health foods. She liked candy bars. Mostly Almond Joy. Grandpa used to tease her with that commercial song from when he was a little kid. “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.” Loraine liked hearin’ Grandpa sing that. Maybe that’s why she always ate an Almond Joy when he was around. One time Grandpa gave her a whole big box a Almond Joys for a Christmas present. That made her happy. Loraine scared me. I mean bein’ so puney ‘n walkin’ on them skinny legs that looked like they would snap ‘n break like a twig. I wanted to help her. Lots a times I cried ‘cause I didn’t know what to do ‘n most times I felt sad that I could do things she wanted to do but I didn’t never do ‘em ‘cause I didn’t want her to feel more bad like, well, if I could a played basketball. That woulda broke her heart more’n it was already broken so I just stayed quiet ‘n fetched her things like Almond Joys when she was layin’ on the couch watchin’ TV ‘n tryin’ to stay awake. Loraine had to sleep a lot ‘cause she didn’t have no energy.

Energy was somethin’ Rubin had. Daddy said he had more energy than a racecar at the Daytona 500! Rubin’s philossopy was don’t lay down when you can sit ‘n don’t sit when you can stand ‘n don’t stand when you can walk ‘n don’t walk when you could run. He couldn’t hardly never sit down at the dining’ room table—he had to stand up to eat or bend one leg on the chair seat ‘n stand with the other. ‘N talk! That Rubin talked all the dern time. He kept everbody’ laughin’ too at all the strange things he’d have to say like if you had a bunny pretty soon you’d have a hundred bunnies or a thousand bunnies ‘n they’d live in tunnels under the back yard ‘n one day you’d go outside ‘n all the tunnels would collapse ‘cause there were so many of ‘em ‘n then you could count how many bunnies you had. Everbody liked Rubin ‘n he liked everbody back. I guess ‘cause he talked ‘bout things people liked to talk ‘bout. He made people laugh ‘n when people laughed they was happy. I don’t think sad people can laugh…at least not belly laugh like Rubin made people do.

I always laughed at Rubin ‘n listened to everthing he had to say. I didn’t talk that much ‘cause Loraine wanted everbody to be quiet ‘n Rubin talked so much that I couldn’t fit a word in edge ways. I didn’t never know how to say funny things anyway. I guess I just answered questions. That’s ‘bout all the talkin’ I did.

Kerrington, she wouldn’t a recognized me then. I started thinkin’ on that ‘n membered Jessie Mobley seein’ how sad I was after Loraine ‘n Rubin died. One day she just told me she wanted us to be friends. I didn’t know if I could be a friend or even think a things to say ‘n at first I was scared. I didn’t hardly know what my voice sounded like. By the time I met Kerrington I was talkin ‘n laughin’ pretty good, thanks to Jessie Mobley.

Sometimes when I’m alone I feel guilty-like. Cause I’m still alive. Cause I’m havin’ fun. Cause I can think a funny things to say. I worry that Loraine ‘n Rubin are lookin’ down at me ‘n sayin’ “Will ya just look at that Ruby? I didn’t know she could talk so much. I didn’t know she had any friends. I didn’t know she could dribble a basketball or tell a joke. Maybe she don’t miss us no more. Maybe she’s happy we went away.  

But that’s not the way I feel a tall. I done cried ‘n rolled round in the mud with my arms tight round my chest to keep my heart from breakin’ apart till I was done feelin’ so sad. I still think a them ever mornin’ when I first wake up ‘n sometimes when me ‘n Kerrington ‘n Jessie Mobley are playin’ Angry Birds or Monopoly ‘n eatin’ the rest a Loraine’s Almond Joys that Grandpa gave her I hafta turn round to see if one a them is standin’ there wantin’ to play too.

Since they left me, I got stronger ‘n braver ‘n that’s somethin’ I hope they don’t feel sad ‘bout.

26 So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Goodbye

It’s been a whole year since my sister left us ‘n nine months since my brother went away. I think they’re happy in heaven. I feel kinda bad sayin’ this but I think God loves the two of ‘em more ‘n I ever could. But one thing I don’t get is if God loved Loraine so much why’d he give her a broke heart ‘n bad lungs? Grandma says I’ll understand it one day…we all will. What I got to be thankful for is that Loraine was strong enough to live 13 years when them doctors done told Mama ‘n Daddy that she wouldn’t make it to her first birthday. Anyways Loraine ‘n Rubin left a great big hole in my heart that won’t never get healed up. But like I said last week I feel stronger ‘n braver ever single day. Most of it’s ‘cause a Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington. My friends listened to me cry ‘n rant ‘n ‘member. I’m thankful for them girls.

Next week I’ll turn ten. It’s gonna be a hard sad day turnin’ ten without my twin turin’ ten too. But if I know Rubin he’ll be singin’ real loud…so loud that I just might hear him. And Loraine too now that she idn’t sickly no more. Come to think ‘bout it, I bet Loraine idn’t so mad ‘n bossy no more. Maybe I’ll hear her singin’ real loud too. Just thinkin’ ‘bout it closes up that hole in my heart a little bit.

I’m keepin’ my blog up so if you know somebody who’s sad ‘bout losing someone they love you can sure share my blog link with ‘em. Maybe it’ll make ‘em smile a little bit. So for now, from me, Jessie Mobley, Kerrington, Bond James Bond, ‘n Jelly Bean it’s, so long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye…goodbye, goodbye, goodbye….

This here is one a Grandma’s favorite songs. Just pretend like it’s me ‘n Kerrington ‘n Jessie Mobley singin’ it to you! Just click HERE

Thanks everbody for lettin' me talk so much! I appreciate it!