Lark(2)

By: Erica Cope


“Sorry, I was trying to be quiet so I didn't wake up Maddie Rose, but your scream probably took care of that.”

At the same time, we pause and cock our ears toward the general direction of Maddie’s bedroom, listening for a minute. Since we don't hear any indication that Sleeping Beauty has been disturbed, we continue talking, albeit a little more quietly. Crisis averted. As cute as Maddie may be, she can be a holy terror if she doesn't get her beauty sleep.

I grab a chocolate-coated, chocolate chip granola bar from the cupboard. My guilty pleasure. I figure I might as well take advantage of my superb metabolism while I can. I’m one of the fortunate ones who never has to worry about what I eat. I’ve always been petite, almost delicate looking. It's the main reason I’m a good cheerleader. I’m pretty easy to toss up in those fancy stunts. My keen organizational skills have also earned me the spot as captain this year and the responsibility is a little daunting. Not only do I have to pretty much run the practices and plan all of our routines, I also have to organize all the Homecoming spirit week activities, all the pep rallies and even the try-outs for next year’s squad this spring. I’m beginning to wish I would have decided to take it easy this year but the girls voted for me and I don’t want to disappoint them.

“What are your plans for today?” I ask my mom, knowing that everyone will be asleep by the time I come home.

“Eh, just going to do some work on my new painting this morning while Maddie naps and then I thought about taking advantage of the pool today since the weather is still so hot.”

This fall has been unseasonably warm. It's already October but the temp hasn't dropped below 90 degrees yet. I could blame global warming, but Kansas weather is usually pretty wonky. It can be 70 degrees on day and snow the next. Paul had an in-ground pool installed last summer which comes in handy since the public pools always close on Labor Day.

“That sounds fun. Too bad I have to work,” I add grudgingly. I’d much rather spend the day at the pool.

“Well, you know Paul would still give you an allowance if you would just accept it. Then you wouldn’t have to work so hard and you’d be able to enjoy the pool with Maddie and me today instead.”

“And you know that I like to make my own money,” I remind her for the millionth time, though the offer is tempting. I just think I’m a little too old to be depending on my parents for all the things that I want. Besides, I kind of like my job. Most days anyway.

Mom just shook her head. She didn’t understand my adamant refusal to take any of Paul’s money. It’s not that I’m a self-less person or anything. I just feel like he has already given me so much as it is that it seems wrong to take anything else from him. I’m already agreeing to let him pay for college and that was hard enough for me to accept.

“Paul and I have a dinner to go to tonight with the director of that new art gallery about two of my new pieces, so Jessica is going to stay with Maddie.”

Jessica is a sophomore and is on the JV cheerleading squad. I met her last year at tryouts. She is sweet and great with kids. Maddie Rose loves her so she quickly became her favorite sitter.

“Ooh! Which two pieces?” I ask her excitedly.

Mom has been painting for years. She is pretty well known for her landscapes but in the last year she has been experimenting with more abstract pieces which have attracted the interest of a few galleries. Her landscapes are my favorite because I never “get” the abstract stuff.

She tells me all about which two pieces she is hoping the art gallery is interested in as I finish my not-so-good-for-me granola bar and chug some orange juice straight from the carton despite her glare. I laugh at her attempt to appear stern. It’s hard to take her seriously with a paint brush tucked behind her ear.

“I better get going.”

“Well, try not to work too hard!” she jokes.

“Ha! I'll try!” I respond as I start making my way to the front door.

We both know that the movie theater is probably number two on the avid reader's dream job list, number one being the library, of course. Most days at the theater, you work for about fifteen to thirty minutes before each show selling the tickets or working at the concession stand. Then you have the next couple of hours to do practically nothing while the patrons are watching the shows. Just about all of the employees bring books to read during these breaks.

I grab my hideous, but required, vest and the book I started re-reading last night and head out the door. I can already tell today is going to be stifling. The heaviness of the muggy air suffocates me as I trudge toward my faded blue Civic that took me an entire year to save for. It’s sort of a piece of junk. The radio barely works, the windows have to be manually rolled down, and it doesn’t even have air conditioning. I seriously cannot wait until fall finally decides to make an appearance.

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