Main | Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Peas

When she was five years old, my sister ran away from home because we were having peas. My mother put the plate down in front of her and Janet slammed her fists on the table.

"That's it! I have had it!" she muttered.

She stomped over to the door, pulled on her boots and left. My mother and I watched her from the living room window of our trailer as she set out across the freshly plowed field that lay between our trailer park and the elementary school playground, her presumed destination.

It had been raining for several days. Janet got about 100 feet away before her boots broke through the cold soil and she sank to her knees in the muck. She picked up the bottom of her dress to keep it dry and tried to pull out of the sucking mud, but only succeeded in removing one of her feet from its boot. She stood there for a moment, holding her dress up, teetering on one leg, aimlessly flailing her pink-socked foot in mid-air.

My mother and I were in hysterics, and Janet must have sensed us watching because she looked over her shoulder at us. That caused her to lose her balance and she slammed her bootless foot down into the mud. Then she pulled her other foot out of its boot and repeated the previous teetering, dangling, flailing motions.

My mother looked at me, "We shouldn't be laugh....oooh ha ha ha ha ha."

I couldn't answer because I was rolling on the floor in the joy that only an older brother could experience in this moment. When I got up and looked again, Janet was knee-deep with both legs, still holding her dress up. And she started to cry. And then it started to rain. Hard.

My mother grabbed an umbrella and sloshed out to get her. I could hear Janet's wailing get louder as Mom carried her back to the house, the way an ambulance siren gets louder as it comes down the street towards you. Of course, I took every opportunity to mock her and make it worse.

The next day, my father took her into the field with a shovel and made her dig up her boots. Then he made sure my mother served us peas again.


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