One of the reasons why I started this blog was to showcase some fiction with a few fellow writers – the Scribblers. We’re about to start posting (and their blogs will be linked to mine for reader access) so I thought I’d just get my first installment out there. This is a little something sloppy I did. The cool thing is that I eventually rewrote it and the revision I’ll put up a little later on.
On the green rug Ms. Nicoletta introduced the module for the next three months: model citizens. “A model citizen is someone who strengthens the community.” Ms. Nicoletta said.
The 24 children in the floor in front of her sat silently looking at her. “That means she makes it strong.”
“I’m strong.” George said, flexing his small arms.
“Me, too.” Akira said, joining in.
“Feel my muscles.” Leelia piped up.
Ms. Nicoletta quieted them down. “A model citizen doesn’t talk when her teacher is talking.”
Akira raised his hand. “Can a model citizen be a mans?” He asked.
Ms. Nicoletta knodded. “Yes, anyone can be a model citizen. Anyone who does good things for the community.”
The children fell silent.
“Does anyone know what “community” means?” Ms. Nicoletta asked.
The children stared.
“A community is where a group of people come together.” Ms. Nicoletta continued. “Can anyone think of a community? How ‘bout where we are now?”
Leelia looked around. “School!” she shouted out.
Ms. Nicoletta knodded.
“School! School!” The other children exclaimed. “School is a communiny!”
Ms. Nicoletta quieted them down again. “Now, does anyone go to church?” She asked.
“I do! I do!” children raised their hands and their voices.
“Well, church is also a community.” Ms. Nicolleta said.
Noah quickly raised his hand and sat up. “My mother is a model citizen.” He said. “She does good things at school and at church.”
Ms. Nicoletta smiled. “Yes, let’s think of model citizens.”
The children fell silent.
“My mother, too.” George said quietly.
“Yeah!” Other children joined in. “My mother! My mother, too!”
Akira looked around the room.
“Akira?” Ms. Nicoletta’s gaze fell on him. “Did you want to say something?”
Akira looked at Ms. Nicoletta’s brown eyes, her straight teeth, her shiny hair tied back with a ribbon. “I’m hungry.” He said.
Ms. Nicoletta looked up at the clock. “Who’s ready for snack?”
The children cheered.
At the snack table Akira sat with Noah and Leelia. There were applesauce cups, cheese sticks and small boxes of raisins. Akira peeled his cheese stick.
“Akira,” Noah said. “Is your mother a model citizen?”
“Akira, your mother looks like a princess.” Leelia said, opening her applesauce. “Can a princess be a model citizen?”
“Akira, is your mother a princess or a model citizen?” Noah asked between bites of cheese and raisin. “Do you know?”
“Akira,” Leelia said dippng her spoon into the sauce. “Your mother is a princess beccause she has long hair and wears pink clothes.”
“If she has long hair, does that mean she’s a model citizen?”
“Maybe she can be both.” Leelia said, her spoon in her mouth.
They looked at Akira who looked at his cheese stick. “My mother is a beautiful girl.” Was all he said.
At home, Akira turned off his cassette player and closed his read-along storybook about Tonka trucks. He went into the bedroom where his mother was lying down. Her suit was hung up on the closet door and she wore her camisol and sweats.
“Mommy?” Akira said at the door way. He waited for a response and then climbed into the bed. Her long hair spread out on the pillow and Akira placed his small hands at the base of her neck to feel her breathing. “Mommy?” He said again.
His mother let out a sleepy sigh. Akira rubbed her back delicately. Where the bones stuck out reminded him of a catepillar without the fuzz.
“Does that feel good?” He asked.
His mother yawned. Akira rubbed some more.
“Mommy?” He said. “Will you walk me to my classroom tomorrow morning?”
His mother rolled over onto her back. “Why?”
Akira didn’t say anything.
“You’re a big boy now; you go to big boy school.” She rolled away from him. “You don’t need me to walk you to your class.”
Akira began tracing letters and other designs on her back. “Guess what letter I’m drawing.” He said.
“Hamburger.” His mother said.
“No, silly.” He chuckled. “Hamburger isn’t a letter.” He traced the letter again.
“’S’” She said.
“Yeah!” Akira beamed in the darkness.
“’S’ for ‘suppertime.’” She said.
“’S’ for ‘slippadibbadub.’” Akira joined in.
His mother swung her legs over the side of the bed. “Slippadibbadub.” She repeated as she sat up.
Akira laughed. The camisole hung off of her like curtains. “Mommy,” He said. “Will you visit me at snack time tomorrow?”
His mother turned to look at him. “Snack time, huh?”
She shrugged. “I’ll try.” She said. “I suppose I can.” She looked at her son, swallowed up by the sheet. “But I don’t want you getting disappointed if I don’t make it, so no promises. Things are so busy at the office right now.”
Akira knodded again.
“Come help me make dinner.” She said, pulling him up by his arms.
In the kitchen, Akira washed the rice as his mother chopped up garlic, brocolli and beef for their dinner. He climbed down from the sink and put the rice pot into the cooker and pushed the button. “Can I watch some ‘Sponge Bob’?” He asked his mother.
She smiled. “Sure you may.”
After dinner, Akira brought his dishes to the sink. He went into the bathroom to start his bath. His mother came in to check the water. “Holler if you need anything.” She said. “I’ll be doing the dishes.”
“Keep the door open.” He said as he undressed.
“Sure thing.” She said.
Akira slid into the water. He felt the tingling in his skin from the heat. He sat and watched the water turn grey then scrubbed the bottoms of his feet with the scrubbing brush. He could hear his mother attacking the pans, pots and dishes with steel wool and Palmolive.
“You alright in there?” She called above the din of Brillo pads and stainless steel.
“Yeah.” Akira hollered back.
“What do you feel like reading tonight?” She asked when she had finished.
“Oh, I don’t know.” Akira paused. “Maybe poems.”
“Poems it is.” She agreed.
Akira finished washing himself. He climbed out of the tub and drained the water. He dried off with his frog towel and draped it over his head to look like a cape. He brushed his teeth. On his way to the bedroom he saw his mother sitting on the sofa with the big white book of poems on her lap. She waved to him as he passed by, skipping. Akira noticed that she leaned her head on her arm.
“You had the tired supper.” He said.
She knodded with a sleepy smile.
Akira went into the room. He changed into his green dinosaur pajamas. He pulled his stuffed shark and his soft lamb off the bed and brought them with him to the sofa. He sat in his mothers lap for poems. Shark and Lamby sat next to him. His mother read in a tired voice that droned, flat and lifeless. After a while she stopped reading.
“Mommy?” Akira said. “Mommy?” He looked up at her. Her eyes were closed and her head hung next to his.
“I’m so sorry Akira.” She mumbled. “I’m just so tired.”
Akira patted her head. “It’s okay.” He said. He climbed down from her lap and went into the bedroom. He brought out a pillow and a blanket and covered her up. Then he set down the pillow and lay down next to her. The light was still on, but he was too frightened of the dark to shut it off. He pulled his shark and his lamb closer to his body. “Good night, Shark. Good night, Lamby.” He said quietly. Silence. And Akira fell asleep.