“Hi, dearie,” she said screeching her car into the driveway and waving her hand out the window. “Don’t you look pretty.”
You have to wear a dress to Handy’s so I was wearing the yellow one she gave me for Easter. Already it was so humid out that winter was starting to sound good again.
I waved back and ran into the garage to put my pogo stick away. When I came out, my dad was standing at the top of the stairs.
“Hi, Mom,” he said, one hand in his pocket and the other one lifted, palm out, in a wave. He looked tired, and tired of it, the way he always did now.
“Hi,” Grandma Bramhall said, poking her head out the window. “How’s the girl?”
“A little under the weather,” he shrugged. My lips made a U-turn. I kept my smile low when I walked to the passenger side of her brown square car.
“Well, dearie, if you’re going to make your own bed,” Grandma Bramhall sighed, throwing her hands off the steering wheel.
I knew the rest: if you’re going to make your own bed, you better be willing to lie in it, too. Grandma Bramhall said it a lot. But what it really meant was: who’s sorry now?
My dad started down the stairs, both hands in his khaki pants. “When do you think you’ll bring Apron home?”
“Oh, well, that depends,” Grandma Bramhall said, turning her head to shake it at me, sliding into the passenger seat. “On whether we decide to have dessert or not, doesn’t it, Apron? Did I tell you we are making three stops on the cruise, two in the Caribbean?”
I bugged my eyes out for her and rolled down my window. My dad said, “Sounds a lot more fun than fly-fishing.” Last summer she went to fly-fishing school and left notes all over the kitchen that said, Dear little people, I’ve gone fishing. Make yourselves at home.
Grandma Bramhall jerked the car into reverse before my dad could lean into the window. “Call me if she gets to be too much for you, Mom. I’ll come pick her up,” he said.
“Oh for God’s sake, Dennis. She’s more of an adult than you are.”
My dad tipped his head towards the stairs. “Yes. But it’d be a great way for me to get out of this shindig.”
“A man at a baby shower. Honestly,” Grandma Bramhall grumbled, turning around to see where she was backing out. Her head shook even cranked to the side like that, just a little slower, like it was up against something.
We couldn’t hear what my dad said next because of the dirt crunching under the tires. But when I looked up again, he was climbing the stairs, his hands still in his pockets.
After that, we were on our way. I punched around on her radio until I heard, “We Are the World” with Cyndi Lauper and her friends.
“Oh, I love this one,” Grandma Bramhall said, putting the petal to the metal and gunning it out onto Route 88, cutting off a #1 Maine Movers truck behind us. The driver let out a huge long beep, but Grandma Bramhall just threw her hands off the steering wheel and said, “Turn this up, dearie, will you?”
Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. It’s 1985 and her mom has passed away, her evil stepmother is pregnant, and her best friend has traded her in for a newer model. Fortunately, she’s about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus—the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ, Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike (no one should look that much like Jesus unless they can perform a miracle or two), but suddenly he’s everywhere. Until one day, she’s stuck in church with him—of all places. And then something happens; Apron’s broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she’s been adrift.
Mike and his grumpy boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store, Apron’s world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad’s secret, coming of age becomes almost too much bear. She’s forced to see things the adults around her fail to—like what love really means and who is paying too much for it.
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