“You know what I remember best about my childhood?” Liz asked her youngest daughter Debbie.
“What?” she asked with a tone of actual interest. Debbie’s thirteen year old frame was petite and athletic. Her blonde waves were strapped down with a red bandana to keep them out of the way of her Monday afternoon chores.
“Going fishing with your Grandmother,” she answered. “Here let me take that.” Liz reached for the wet cloth Debbie had been cleaning the refrigerator shelves with.
Debbie’s strong red hands dropped the cloth in the kettle full of warm water her mother extended. She rubbed her hands together. wiped them on the denim shorts and tucked her hands in the pockets.
“I don’t really have many memories. Not like you girls.” Liz dumped the water in the sink. “We didn’t have the money and my parents didn’t care what my childhood was like.”
Debbie had moved to the dinning room adjacent to the kitchen. Her mother’s word circled around each piercing like some school yard taunt. She smiled at her mother but wanted to reply, you mean unlike you who takes us places then makes them hell.
“You and your sister have seen so much.” Liz continued. “Here sit next to me for me a minute and well take a break.” Liz pulled out one of the wrought iron stools tucked under the counter that divided the kitchen from the dining room.
Debbie started to pull the stool out.
“Honey, get my cigarettes for me. They over there.” She pointed to the counter next to the frig. “And the ash tray out of the dishwasher. Thanks.”
Debbie sat down on the stool next to her mother. I could use a cigarette she thought. Wonder what she would do if asked her for one. For a brief moment Debbie imagined that her mother would say sure and then recount how she started smoking at an age earlier than Debbie’s thirteen years.
“Why don’t you get us some of the fish to snack on.” Her mother said. “And some lemonade.”
“Sure,” Debbie said. She took the Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Fish box off the pantry shelf where it was filed next to the Graham Crackers and Triscuts