STOLEN PUDDING AND WINE

I sat on the railroad tracks near my house.  Trains rarely passed by there anymore.  It was raining, too.  I didn't really notice that much, though.

Yesterday I ate the last chocolate pudding in the fridge.  My sister had wanted it.  She had even told me not to eat it.  But I did.  I'm not sure why.  It wasn't that I wanted to make my sister mad.  I just really wanted that pudding.  It was chocolate, but had vanilla in the middle.  The vanilla was so white and creamy. 

It reminded me of the time my parents had a dinner party when I was seven.  Everyone was drinking wine, and I thought they looked so sophisticated.  So I sneaked some.  When it was my bedtime, I kissed my parents goodnight.  Then I went into the kitchen.  I brought a glass of wine up to my room, hidden under my robe, and drank it in little sips.  I wore a pink feather boa and asked my Beanie Babies if they would like some wine, too.  Then I started feeling sort of dizzy, so I went to sleep.

The next morning at breakfast, my mom said she was proud of me for behaving so nicely at the party.  She gave me chocolate pudding for a treat.  Chocolate pudding for breakfast!  By the time I got to the vanilla part in the middle, I started feeling really guilty. 

I heard a whistle in the distance.  A train was coming.  I got up off the track.  The fields all around here were brown and dead looking.  The cornstalks still stood there, bent and defeated, corn season long gone.

I realized my jeans and gray Milwaukee Bucks hoodie were thoroughly drenched.  My long brown hair was sticking to my face.  I trudged my way through the mud back home.

My home was a small farmhouse with a big tree in front.  There weren't many other trees around.  It wasn't the same house we had the dinner party in.  That house was in Milwaukee and it was bigger than this one. 

Our English springer spaniel, Patches, ran up to greet me.  We got him four years ago.  I begged for a puppy for my ninth birthday.  He was the most independent in the litter.  He was also the cutest, with brown little freckles on his nose.

My sister Angela sat slouched on the couch watching an E! True Hollywood Story.  She still looked pissed.  Angela was seventeen.  My mom called her a tart sometimes when she got mad.  My mom didn't like that she wore rouge and lip liner. 

"I'm sorry. But it's just pudding," I said to Angela.

"Shut up.  I don't care about the damn pudding."  She dug her fingers into her gelled brown hair.

"Okay," I said.  I went into my room to change clothes.  I shared a room with Angela, so her half had posters and magazine clip-outs of football players.  Back in our old house, we had our own rooms. 

My side of the room was mostly bare except for a few childhood photos.  There was one where Angela was ten and I was six.  We were at the Milwaukee zoo eating ice cream and wearing hats with Styrofoam elephant ears on them.  It was a pretty happy moment until about five minutes later when I tasted some of her ice cream without asking and she hit my forehead. 

The phone in the living room started to ring.  Normally Angela answered the phone, but it kept ringing.  I left my room, now in dry sweatpants and a T-shirt, and found Angela at the TV where I left her.

"Aren't you going to answer the phone?" I asked.

She ignored me.  I took that to be a "no", so I answered it.  We didn't have an answering machine.  My parents didn't like them.

"Is Angela there?"  The voice was definitely a man's, not a boy's.  I wondered who it was, but I held the phone in front of Angela's face.

"For you."

She didn't say anything for a minute, then took the phone from me.  She got up off the couch and went into our room and slammed the door to let me know not to come in.  I changed the channel to Animal Planet and watched a special on snow leopards until my parents got home from a crafts show they'd been at all day.