the Man in the Truck: Segment 8

Blog Directory I was sitting at the breakfast table inside our kitchen working on the Math weekly reader double checking back over my problems for any mistakes and referring back to the sample picture page at the start of the chapter for problem examples. My mother was at the table knitting something in yellow, her back against the window that she framed now with pale yellow valences with matching panel curtains that were opened to Jay’s house across the street. I tried to pay attention to what I was doing and I ripped out the recycled paper from my green Geometry workbook to put it next to the examples in my textbook all the while not erasing very hard when I’d set up a math equation and needed to change it. I was listening for his truck wanting it to pull in the drive and I was wondering what Jay’s mom was doing inside behind their living room making dinner and or cleaning the living room with her vacuum visible from the street from the bay window that looked into her couch and the right side of their dining room. But I looked back at my equation which asked me to draw the slope on a piece of graph paper of 16y+7x and then to find the third variable which was the degree if the slope were to be made into a triangle with two 90 degree angles. I tapped my eraser on my cheek thinking trying to visualize the triangle in my head and looking down again at the slope I’d drawn for the y and x variable. I noticed my mother glancing up at me from her sewing and I wondered what her thoughts of me were, here, sitting at this diner table with the swirly eights embossed in gray on the white lacquered top part. She was pretending to sip from her diet soda that she had split pouring me the other half into a small drinking glass that she put next to a plate of two graham cracker pieces and half a banana. The door closed and Kathy came rushing in all flushed from cheerleading with her hair sweaty high up in a ponytail and her gym shorts nearly soaked high above her thighs, her shirt sleeves rolled up tight to the top of her shoulders. “Math?” She said. She was peeking over my shoulder at my workbook and taking a sip out of the glass full of water she’d just poured from the plastic tea pitcher inside the yellowing refrigerator. My mother didn’t say a word about me but she perked up when Kathy took notice of what I was doing and mother explained to her that Kathy’s Bible study partner had called two hours earlier to confirm their meeting late Sunday afternoon at 7 in the evening after the pot luck. And Kathy of course said sure that she couldn’t wait and she squeaked down out of the kitchen and through the dining room down the hall to the bathroom where I was sure I’d hear the shower running for at least a half hour without mother caring or judging her for it. When mother finally got up to put her knitting away in the closet behind the breakfast table to take the thawing meats out of the fridge, the celery, the paprika, seasonings, basil and parsley out of the cooking cabinets, I scooched my chair closer to the window and stared out from the sill to the summer weather and the house across the street. Jay’s truck was not even there but his garage was open and I could see a grey Honda in there next to a set of sliding wooden tool shed doors. Some cars passed down our street and I’d watched expectantly for any one of them to be his but then my mother called for me asking me what I was doing saying that if I was done with my math homework that I could put it away in my room and help her to start chopping the carrots, onions, and squash so that she could sauté them and then put them with the nutmeg in the electric mixer. I got the vegetables and the seasoning out from the bottom drawer in our fridge and from the seasoning cabinet with the small Lazy Susan behind its door for the spices and then took my Algebra book into my room where I opened the window that creaked when I usually did this. I pushed open the corner of the screen enough to get out and back in, shut the door to my room as I walked down the hall, and stepped back into the kitchen to chop up the squash while I heard the shower still running and Kathy singing a Billy Joel song from 1988 out loud and at the top of her lungs.

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