NOTE: The following is a true story from my childhood. Obviously names have been changed to protect the droopy, er, innocent.
This story is in response to another Trifecta challenge to use the word crack, 3rd definition, in a written work of 33 – 333 words: “3a: a narrow break: fissure” “3b: a narrow opening.” I just can’t get enough! Enjoy.
My hand-me-down tights with the tiny, pink hearts sagged pathetically. Sponge-curlers had turned my hair into a mass of frizzy, limp sausages. My sister’s loathsome church dress, covered in lace and pastel flowers, was knotted behind my back like a straight jacket.
It was official: I looked like a dingy, homeless petit-four.
As I stood on the veranda waiting to be admitted to the party, Queen Droopy’s disdainful gaze confirmed it.
In a fit of synthetic multiculturalism, Claire Beaumont’s mother, who resembled Droopy the cartoon dog, decided to host an ‘Around-the-World’ tea for the third-grade girls. We were supposed to dress like rosy-cheeked automatons from Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride, happiness painted on.
“You’ll be America,” my step-mother decided.
“I don’t waaant to,” I whined.
“It’s original!” she claimed.
I knew the truth: we were too broke for a costume. I’d always known we were poor in a vague, guarded way, the way I knew my dog hadn’t gone to live on a nice farm after biting the landlord.
With a pointed “Hm,” Queen Droopy chipped that fragile wall and pricked my dull awareness.
So at tea, frenetic as the Mad Hatter, I heaped sugar in my Darjeeling, burped and ate a garnish. Each time, the Queen wrinkled her nose as if I were pungent roadkill, the towheaded twins snickered in their improbable saris, and I burned as scarlet as Claire’s silky kimono. Queen Droopy crooned, “Gi-irls. Drink your tea-ea.” I wanted to blister her haughty jowls with scalding tea.
Later, when hard-boiled eggs arrived in porcelain cups, I silently declared guerrilla war. After making a thin crack in the delicate shell and peeling it away, I slowly, surreptitiously, rolled my slippery egg under the China cabinet. Leaning back, smiling and sipping, I imagined Queen Droopy next week: like a dog, on all fours she’d search for the source of the stench, slip her hand in the dark and grasp my putrescent revenge.
I sighed. It was a small world, after all.