To Come and Go Like Magic

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Book: To Come and Go Like Magic by Katie Pickard Fawcett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Katie Pickard Fawcett
turn and look our way. Somebody says:
    “Aisle three,” a voice calls from somewhere between the oranges and cabbage.
    The rabbit/VISTA woman squeezes past Aunt Rose and me and hurries down aisle three like she’s headed to a fire.
    “What on earth is that?” Rose asks.
    Rusty smiles and shakes his head. “She had us special-order it,” he says. “It’s probably foreign.”
    “That’s what I was thinking,” says Rose. She scoots our hot rolls and tea bags and buttermilk down the counter so she has enough room for the bleach and the Ajax. Rose is planning to clean and cook today while Momma’s at work. She’s tired of looking at the tea stains on our sink, she says. We’re too sloppy. Rose couldn’t stand to live with us for one minute. She’d go crazy, she says. Still, she’s at our house almost as much as I am.
    We wait in line, listen to Roger Miller singing in thebackground.
I’ve been a long time leaving, yeah, but I’ll be a long time gone…
. I look down aisle two and spot the cassette player stuck on the top shelf beside the Tide laundry detergent.
    When the rabbit lady comes back, I look at the box in her hand and memorize the spelling so I can add it to my list.
. On one side of the box there’s a picture of a man in white pants gathering some kind of grass in a big field.
    Rusty’s fingers dance across the keys on the adding machine like he’s playing a piano while the rabbit lady loads up her own bags. She pays with cash and leaves. Through the big picture windows we can see her put the grocery bags into a blue jeep that’s covered with mud, like it’s been up and down every hollow in the county.
    “What’s Mercy Hill coming to?” Rose says, clicking her tongue.
    “Beats me,” says Rusty.
    Jimmy Dupree comes up and leans over the partition behind Rusty.
    “We had to order a dozen boxes of
that falafel
stuff,” he says. “The main company wouldn’t let us buy just one.”
    “That’s a dirty shame,” says Rose.
    “We need more people to buy it,” Jimmy says.
    “Don’t look at me,” says Rose.
    They all laugh like this is some kind of joke.
    We do not eat weird food in Mercy Hill. Last monthMomma bought a
Ladies’ Home Journal
magazine so she could try a recipe for Polynesian pork, but she had to throw away most of the pork because nobody liked it except Lenny and me. It had pineapple in it. “Who puts pineapple in stew?” Pop said. “It’s a waste of money to cook food that nobody eats.” So mostly we eat fried chicken or meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans out of the garden, and everybody’s happy. Uncle Lu says magazine recipes are for city people anyway, people who can’t cook.
    Sometimes I see Momma reading the recipes in magazines at the Piggly Wiggly store, but she just looks now. Buying magazines is a waste of money, too.

G oing to Mexico …
    Miss Matlock brings a bag of plastic cars to school. Blue four-door sedans for the boys and pink convertibles for the girls. The boys would be jealous of the convertibles except none of them would drive a pink car.
    She has us put our chairs in a big circle like we used to do in kindergarten.
    “Story time!” Zeno Mayfield says this loud enoughfor everyone to hear, but Miss Matlock doesn’t even look at him.
    “Put the library table in the middle,” she says, pointing to the long work table back near the lockers. The boys carry it to the center of the room. Zeno pulls up his shirt sleeve and flexes his make-believe muscles.
    “Are we having a race?” a bunch of voices cry at once. They roll cars across the desks and make zooming sounds.
    We’re way too old for this.
    Miss Matlock unrolls a map of Canada, the United States, and Mexico and tapes it to the tabletop. She circles the spot in Kentucky where Mercy Hill is and takes a kitchen timer from her desk.
    “Who wants to be first?”
    All the boys jump up, but Zeno gets to the table first. Is that any surprise?
    “Start here in

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