Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lagoon (part 3 of 4)

BEFORE you read this -- make sure you read parts #1 and #2 or this will make no sense.... Try to put yourself into the mindset of a bossy 13 year old older sister when you read this. Maybe one day Viki will forgive me for how I treated her in part #3...

I was in shock. Instinctively, I went to the sink to wash off my face and arms. I shuddered out of my clothes and went into a stall for privacy. Anger was waiting inside. Viki hadn’t stopped apologizing this whole time, so I decided to let her show how sorry she really was for using me as target practice.

I made her stand there at that miniscule-sized porcelain sink and scrub out every bit of my clothes by hand. The only cleansing agent available was that white powdery substance that clumped out from the dispensers located periodically above the sinks. Grit. White grit. She scrubbed her little fingers away on my clothes, washing them with sink water and grit until the smell and stains were gone.

In between my complaints from the stall, I also demanded a fresh supply of wet, brown tri-fold paper towels so I could sponge bathe. After I felt sufficiently cleansed of puke, I sat there alternating between anger and annoyance. Every so often, I’d flirt with remorse, but never enough to give it words.

Once my clothes passed inspection, I forced her stand there and hold them up, part by tiny part, to the hand dryer and push the button over and over and over again. Towards the end of this task, remorse tickled at my edges and I, belatedly, apologized to Viki for making her go on that ride. As I watched her slave next to the dryer, I felt bad that there wasn’t a chair for her to rest on. I guess the restroom wasn’t expecting too many work-weary laundresses that day.

When my clothes were just damp, Viki brought them to me and practically begged me to say ‘enough’. I put them on, thanking my lucky stars that I chose to wear my training bra that day. Whether or not I actually needed one was still to be determined. But the only thing worse on a teenage girl than a damp white shirt with a bra showing through is a damp white shirt with no bra showing through.

After what seemed like hours, we emerged from the restroom. Now what? Viki was feeling much better, having evacuated everything that was bothering her. She still wanted me to call Mom and see if she’d come pick her up early.

“Gimme a quarter.” I insisted. There was no way I was going to foot this bill. Apparently my sub-conscience had not received enough penance from her laundering labors. Besides, my dollar had long since fallen prey to a sugary siren called cotton candy.

“I don’t have one! I already spent my whole dollar.” Of course she had. She was a Groberg too. Free money plus anything whose first ingredient was sugar was no match for our weak wills. Give a Groberg a quarter, and he or she will find the nearest candy vending machine.

“How are we supposed to call Mom?”

“Beats me,” Viki said. She sat down, finally, on a nearby bench and sighed, exhausted. Remorse came back. I felt bad about making her scrub my clothes for so long. I’d make it up to her by remedying our lack of the larger coinage.

“I’ll go ask someone for a quarter. If I explain the whole situation, I’m sure they’ll understand.” By ‘whole situation’, I meant leaving out certain parts that were non-essential to accomplishing my monetary goals. Parts like me forcing my sister to ride and making her clean up with grit.

I sat down next to Viki and studied my surroundings. Who is the least intimidating person here? Who would have a quarter they would be willing to part with? There she was, sitting in the shade just waiting for her family to finish a ride nearby. Her short brown hair was spritzed with gray, meaning she was probably rich. No one was around her. She had a purse that no doubt housed more than our junk drawer. Surely there would be a spare quarter in there for the needy.

I took a deep breath, got up and walked speedily over to her before I could change my mind.

“Um, Ma’am?” I was new at this -- asking complete strangers for money. In about three seconds, I would be an experienced beggar, an accepter of alms. “My little sister got sick and threw up. I need to call my mom, but I don’t have a quarter. Do you have one?” I used the sweetest voice in my arsenal. The one I reserved for my Dad when my Mom had already said no.

Her face smiled. “Of course, honey.” With those three words and her accompanying action, I brushed off the worst of the shame that had hovered over me like an umbrella. I awaited my handout with true gratitude, both to her and to how easy it had been. “Here’s two quarters, dear. Just in case the first one doesn’t work. I hope your sister feels better.” Acknowledging she knew more of the waywardness of phone booths, I thanked her sincerely and walked off to find a phone.

The first quarter worked fine. No defects. My mom was naturally worried when I explained what had happened. I told her Viki wanted to go home, but that the rest of us wanted to stay.

“Are you sure she wants to come home early?” She asked. But what she was really asking was that if there was any way I could keep Viki there, she would be infinitely grateful. I could hear in her voice she had plans for the day which didn’t include an extra trip to Lagoon.

“Actually, Mom,” I hesitated, looking over at Viki, “I think she’ll be fine. She is feeling much better. We’ll just go on slow rides and take it easy.”

“If you’re sure.” She answered, with a thank you in her tone. “Call me again if you change your mind.”

I hung up the phone and turned around to find Viki. But I didn’t turn around empty-handed. ......

1 comment:

VikiViki said...

"I WAS new at this...asking complete strangers for money" favorite line (caps inserted by me on purpose! lol)

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