“Like sands through the hour glass…so are the days of our lives” The mellow voice on the television promised glamour and drama while Mama did the ironing. The powder never seemed to fill the bottom of that glass. Mama was a stickler. Even hair ribbons and sheets had to be ironed with a zeal Katie just couldn’t understand.
“Boy that Julie is a pistol! She’s gonna break her poor mother’s heart if she keeps chasing after that man. I don’t care if he does wear a suit. That Doug is no gentleman!”
Katie slipped into the kitchen and eased the lid off the cookie jar, silent, or so she thought.
“Katie? You stay out of those cookies! You will spoil your supper.”
How did she do that? “Yes Ma’am!” Katie called as she wrapped two of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies in a napkin. She ran out the back door and walked up the street to the corner, slowly savored the warm cookie and the gooey chocolate being careful not to get it on her shirt. Mama would have torn her up if she got chocolate all over her clothes. She turned the corner and walked to Robinson’s Drug store. It was still a couple hours until supper time. She liked to look at the make-up and the magazines. Mama wouldn’t let her wear make-up yet and she sure wasn’t going to let her buy one of those glamour magazines though Katie couldn’t figure out how a magazine was worse than Mama’s stories.
She wandered the aisles picking up packages of eye shadow. She loved the names of the colors. Bronze Shimmer and Desert Sunset. The fancy names sounded a lot better than tan and pink. She thumbed through a magazine, looking at the hairstyles. Katie felt a hand on her shoulder and jumped, dropping the magazine. Mr. Robinson was standing there. He bent to pick up the magazine. “Are you planning to buy this, young lady?”
Katie shook her head and frowned. “No sir.” She went to school with his son. Katie always thought Jack was kind of a jerk but she tried to be pleasant. She knew his mom was sick a lot. She felt funny about the way Mr. Robinson was standing kind of close. She wished he would back up a little. There was no way for her to move without seeming rude and she knew her Mama would not be happy if Mr. Robinson told her Katie was looking at magazines in his store and not buying them.
“I guess we can just forget this little magazine incident. I better never catch you stealing from my store again, though.”
“I wasn’t stealing!” Just then he bent and kissed Katie right on the mouth! She backed up with a jolt, almost knocking the magazine rack over. She turned and ran to the door, swiping her hand across her mouth. She heard him laughing as she stumbled outside. She started running and didn’t slow down until she was nearly home. She was half afraid he was following. She was out of breath and glanced behind her but there was no one there. She kept walking toward her home.
Now what should she do? Should she tell her Mama? What if he said Katie was lying because he caught her stealing? Would her Mama believe her? He was a grown-up and grown-ups never believed kids. He was on the P.T.A. for crying out loud! She rubbed her mouth with her shirt-tail. Gross! How was she going to face Jack at school? If she told then everyone would know. Now she really felt sorry for Jack. His mom was sick and his dad was a perv. Jeez how lucky can you get? She kicked a stone on the sidewalk.
What could she say if Mama wanted her to go to the drugstore to buy something. She never wanted to go back to that place! She closed the screen door without slamming it for once. Her Mama turned from the stove and smiled. “You’re just in time. Go get washed up and set the table.” Katie went to the sink and scrubbed her hands. She set the table. Mama brought the food to the table and they both sat down and Mama said the blessing.
Mama put a chunk of meat loaf on her plate and passed her the mashed potatoes. Katie took some and didn’t even fuss when Mama placed a big spoonful of green beans next to the meatloaf. Katie ate a little piece of the meatloaf and then made patterns in her mashed potatoes with her fork. Her mother watched her as she ate her own dinner. Finally, she put her fork down and crossed her arms in front of her. “What’s wrong? You love my meatloaf and you haven’t even asked for the catsup. You haven’t said three words since you got home.” Katie knew she wasn’t going to let this go.
“I went to the drugstore today. I was looking at make-up and I picked up a magazine to look at and anyway, you know Mr. Robinson?”
Her Mama nodded, frowning.
“Well, he kinda kissed me.” Katie started crying. Her Mama was sitting there with her mouth hanging open. Katie just knew she was in for it now. Any minute her Mama was going to yell at her and she would probably be grounded for a thousand years!
“Katie Rose! Did he touch you?” She had never seen her Mama look like that. She looked mad sick at the same time.
“No, ma’am. He just kissed me. On the mouth. It was totally gross. I’m sorry Mama.” Katie started to cry again. Mama was out of her chair hugging her. “Katie, you are not in trouble. Men like Mr. Robinson always think girls will be too scared to tell anyone. I ought to take my iron to his head. Why Olivia has stayed with him all these years is beyond me!”
The next day Mama was going to the drug store. Mrs. Robinson had asked her for her Chocolate Cake recipe and she had written it down and folded it and placed it in an envelope.
“You’re not going to tell her what happened are you?” Katie was mortified at the very thought of it.
“No. But I will make sure Mr. Robinson sees me hand his wife this envelope. He can draw his own conclusions.”
Maybe Mama had learned a thing or two from watching TV. Katie had a whole new respect for Mama and her soap operas that day.