My brothers, Mark and Jamie, bounded through the door and stood at the top of the steps that lead down to the church basement
“Hurry up, Kathleen! What are you doing?”
My preschool class has just let out, and I was standing one one of the steps the that led from the common room to the front parking lot. I didn’t know what I had been doing. Probably, I had been standing stock-still, and considering the the merits of something like chewing gum vs. jelly beans. My friend Robyn always asked for chewing gum as a treat, because, “it lasts longer.” I liked chewing gum okay, but preferred the intensity of pretty much any kind of candy, and argued that jelly beans were better while you had them. Plus I had a tendency to fall asleep with gum in my mouth and wake up with gum in my hair. Robyn had a point about the black jelly beans, but you could always just eat them really fast, or stick them in the crack in the sofa behind the couch cushions.
My teachers in elementary school would later complain about my daydreaming, but my preschool teacher, Miss Ann, called me imaginative. I loved Miss Ann.
I had made it to the second or third step from the bottom, and was holding on to the railing. Other kids, and sometimes a parent, pushed past me. I looked up at my brothers.
“Would you move, Goose?” Mark called down to me. “We’re going to Florida!”
“Oh yeah, right, ” I said. I had fallen for their tricks before, but I was four now. I was used to their hijinks.
“We really are,” said Jamie, running down the steps. He grabbed me by the elbow. I pulled away and made a show of rubbing the elbow. I noticed some dried glue in my arm hair.
Mark called down to me again. “Don’t you want to go to Disney World?”
I ignored him and picked at the glue. They were so mean.
Jamie took my hand away from the glue and started pulling me up the steps. I went with him. Mom would be mad if she had to park the car and come in for us. I was planning to tell on my brothers and I knew I’d be more likely to have Mom’s attention if she weren’t already annoyed.
The green Datsun was pulled up right in front of the church doors. Mark had the back door open and was holding on to the collar of our dog, Peppy, preventing him from leaping out of the backseat. Dad was behind the wheel. My father, I knew, worked in DC writing papers–he never picked me up from preschool.
Mom leaned over from the passenger seat. “Are you ready to go? Did you say good-bye to Miss Ann?”
I looked from Dad to the dog and from the dog to Dad.
Mark was laughing, “See! We really are going!”
I felt twinges of excitement in my gut and tried to keep them off my face.
I looked at my father.
“Don’t you want to go to Florida?” he asked.
I looked at my mother. She was smiling. My mother was not one for tricks.
The thrill–Alligators! Grapefruit! Mickey Mouse!–surged through me, and pushed away any remaining fear that this was somehow a misunderstanding, or a trick, and that my brothers were going to laugh at me. I jumped up and down trying to find a word that would express how I felt.