Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: A Gambler's Prayer
By Joy Faire Stewart
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She shook her head and rolled her eyes when I told her a cowboy is just plain naked without his hat.
I almost made it through the kitchen when I spied Hi-Fi slurping milk from a dish near Mom’s feet. Without my six-shooter, I had to use my other weapon. Takin’ dead-aim on that “mountain lion,” I pitched my hat at Hi-Fi. He jumped straight up in the air and came down splat right in the middle of the milk dish. I laughed so hard, I had to hold my stomach—’til I saw milk dripping from Mom’s skirt and puddling in her pink, fluffy house shoes Dad gave her for her birthday.
She threw her hands up, like I’d said stick ’em up, her neck turned red and just about the time she opened her mouth to say something, the phone rang.
Taking a deep breath, she said into the phone, “Hello...this is Mrs. Reisman.
“Yes, I’m Lincoln’s mother.
“Miss Hartwood, he did what in school today?”
Mom stomped her foot, milk from her fluffy house shoes splashed the oven door. I grabbed the dish towel covering the dishes she had draining in the sink and mopped the oven and floor. Miss Hartwood must’ve said something really bad ‘cause Mom covered her eyes with her hand.
Mom hiccupped and said, “I’m disappointed in Lincoln’s behavior, too. His dad and I will talk to him. I’ll assure you, it won’t happen again!
“I agree, Miss Hartwood, it must be difficult teaching twenty-five third graders.
“It was nice talking with you, too. Yes, I’ll see you at the PTA meeting. Thanks for calling.”
Uh-oh! Mom turned to me with that raised left eyebrow.
“Lincoln Edward Reisman, what do you mean stealing marbles from the other kids?”
“But Mom, I wasn’t stealing marbles. I won ‘em.”
“Young man, go to your room. When your dad comes home, we’ll talk about this. Meantime, you think about what you’ve done. This calls for filling your pockets with prayers!”
The dish cloth I was still holding, I carefully put back over the dishes—like Mom had it.
The sheriff’s badge dangling from my pocket weighed a ton as I climbed the stairs to my room. I plopped down on my Roy Rogers’ bedspread and kicked off my boots. Hi-Fi jumped on the bed and nuzzled my arm. I smoothed his sticky, wet fur.
I wondered if Miss Hartwood told Mom about me eating the gerbil’s lettuce when she made me stay in from recess. Must not...
Maybe I should’ve made the hole in the coffee can bigger. I won lots of marbles ‘til Angeline got down on the ground and measured the hole in the can. She sure got mad when the marble wouldn’t fit through the hole. Then, everybody got mad at me and told Miss Hartwood.
She kept the can and made me gave all the marbles back. The kids laughed at me, ‘specially Angeline.
I didn’t like marbles anymore.
My stomach hurt.
My heart hurt.
I rubbed Hi-Fi’s soft ears. He purred and washed my hand with his scratchy tongue. He forgave me for the milk bath. Mom said that God forgives and won’t remember the bad things you’ve done if you’re really sorry, and ask Him to forgive you.
I placed Hi-Fi on the pillow and slid over the side of the bed to my knees, “Jesus, I want to fill my pockets with prayers.”
The buzzing of the intercom on my desk brought me back to the walnut paneled office where I sat remembering...
I pressed the talk button. “Yes, Jillian?”
“Dr. Lincoln, your 4:00 appointment is here, and your wife is on line two. She said it’s important.”
“I’ll take the call first.”
“Hi hon, what’s up?”
“Linc, Edward’s teacher just called. Did you tell your son about the marbles and coffee can game?”
Marbles and Coffee Can Game: A hole is cut in the can lid large enough for a marble to drop through. The player stands in front of the can and drops a marble from waist-high into the can. If the marble goes into the can, the player receives his marble back plus the number of marbles agreed upon in advance. If the marble doesn’t go into the can, the owner of the can keeps the marble. Many view this game as gambling.
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