“I told you about the plumber unstopping our kitchen sink with Red Devil Lye. You were standing by me and I was ironing. You ran over to watch him. At just that moment the plumber plunged the lye and it struck you in both eyes.”
I knew Momma was upset but I didn’t care. I crossed my arms. I heard Beany’s collar jingle. She thumped her tail against the dining room wall and I knew where she was. “Let’s sing a song,” Momma said rather quickly. “How about ‘Romeo’?”
Romeo went roamin’
That’s how he won his name
Romeo went roamin’
That’s how he won his fame
A roamin’ in the gloamin’
He came upon Juliet
With his cute little ladder
He didn’t think he had her
But he said I’ll get you yet—
“But why?” I cried out.
“Suffering is a mystery,” Momma said. “Anyway, being blind is better than having a bad disposition. “Now go outside and play. I want to finish David Copperfield, even though I’ve read it three times.”
I headed toward the front door. Beany followed me. I felt for her ears. German shepherds have the softest fuzz on their ears. Hers felt like velvet. I opened the door and stepped onto the porch. Beany rushed by me and I heard her toenails click down the steps.
I turned left and felt for the big wooden porch swing and for the rightmost of the two chains from which the swing hung. I softly sang a nonsense song that Billy’s class had learned last year. “Simonize your baby with a Hershey’s candy bar, / And see the difference Drano makes in every movie star!”
I swung as high as I could in the porch swing. I had to get my mind on something else. Robert Louis Stevenson occurred to me.
How I do like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
I heard kids talking and their footsteps walking by in front of my house. I didn’t recognize their voices. I automatically covered my eyes with one hand. I knew I would be much prettier if I hadn’t gotten lye in both my eyes.