Josephine O'Grady

United States

If a particle of your observations tugs at you a certain way, don't forget to write it down.

Message to Readers

I don't usually publish drafts of my writing here; I correct all my grammar mistakes on paper before
publishing. However, I was re-reading this and, needless to say, was quite horrified by some of the mistakes I
failed to correct! So this new version is cleaner, and easier for the reader to comprehend, for my mistakes
don't get in the way! Hope you enjoy...please leave a comment at the bottom of the page if you have any

that time of day

December 21, 2015

PROMPT: Living People

I always knew when new issues of Claire's magazines came in the mail. Everyone present in the house would know. Claire was not shy about her emotions. Ever. That's how we knew. Claire went out to get the mail everyday, in hopes she would find magazines, stacked neatly in our baby-blue mailbox, waiting patiently for her.

When I come home from school today, I know. I have just finished my after-school-snack and am plinking and plonking away on the piano, struggling to play Fur Elise, when I hear Claire shriek. I don't bother looking up from the piano. I know what is coming next. 

Claire enters the house at full-speed, slamming the front door so hard the house shakes. "Laura, they're here!" she squeals, her arms full of National Geographic.

I don't look up. Did the staffs say to play E or E flat? I couldn't tell. "Did any new Highlights come in?" I ask.

"Huh?" Claire is already setting up her magazines in one big, messy heap on the floor, and arranging the pillows on the couch the way she likes them. "Oh yes, I think one may have come in." Her blue eyes flash with guilt.

I turn around and throw her a playful glare. "And did you ever bother, um, GETTING it?" I ask slyly.

"Oh!" Claire looks away, eyes glued to the scattered magazines on the rug. "No..."

I sigh. "Never mind, I'll get it myself." But I am really saying it to know one, for Claire is already curled in a ball on the couch, the pupils in her eyes dancing back and forth as she reads. I hop off the piano bench and walk outside in search of the new issue of Highlights.

Minutes later, I am back inside. Immedietely, Claire is on me. "Laura, can you cut me up a lemon?" She doesn't take her eyes off the National Geographic magazine. From where I stand, I can see she is reading an article about Siberian tigers.

I wrinkle my nose at the thought of sucking a lemon, which is Claire's favorite snack; especially when she's reading. But I say okay, and head to the kitchen. After all, it's not her fault that Mom says she's too young to use a knife.

I know when I am in the kitchen when bright lights greet my eyes, and the soft carpeted floor underfoot turns to a cold wooden one. I slide across the room (I take advantage of a wooden floor when I am wearing my fluffiest pair of socks) to the silverware drawer and delicately take out a knife and the biggest, yellowest lemon in the fridge. Then I get out a cutting board and and slowly slice through the ripe citrus. 

Claire is gifted, something that most people around here don't know. It's not that we're embarrassed by it, but our parents don't want her to get special attention; they say that Claire should learn to work just as hard as other kids, only sometimes she will be a level above them. So the subject is not brought up often in the house.

I found out Claire was gifted when she was five and I was seven. It was her first year of grade school, and everyday when school was done, Claire and I walked home together. I noticed that she always had her arms filled with library books, and there were more in her backpack. Most of them were about penguins. It appeared to be that they had become her new favorite thing. I also saw that at recess, when I was playing in the sandbox, Claire was usually on the swings, one hand curled around the chain, and the other that turned the page minute after minute without a break. I had to remind her when recess was over; she was always so deep in a book she never heard the bell ring. 

But to me, she was still the same old Claire, who loved playing Just Dance on the Wii system, who cracked jokes, did goofy stunts all day long, loved vanilla cupcakes and took ballet lessons. So I thought nothing of it, and continued to walk home everyday with Claire, each of us carrying a stack of her library books. I grew used to Claire's constant chatter of the scientific classifications of African penguins. It didn't bother me that I didn't always know the words she used, or what they meant.

It did, however, bother my parents when Claire shared what she learned from her books at the dinner table one night. They didn't say anything, but Dad, through his round glasses, gave Mom one of his am-I-missing-something-looks. And Mom threw back one her we'll-talk-about-this-later looks. Mom and Dad give each other a lot of those looks. I learned a while ago to interpret them. 

The next day, I heard Mom on the phone with some doctor. Then, Claire had to go and meet him. She told me afterwards that the doctor was very nice but stiff as a broomstick, and that they had played a game of checkers. She didn't seem concerned about it, so I didn't worry either (despite that my sister is two years younger than me, we usually follow each other's examples). But a couple days later, the doctor confirmed that Claire was gifted. Mom and Dad spoke to us seprately about it. I don't know what they told Claire, but they explained to me that she could absorb information faster than other kids her age, even faster than me, and that I shouldn't be jealous about it in any way. Claire and I never spoke of it. I am actually relieved that we still don't. I guess you could say it's out of fear that it would come between us and wouldn't go away. 

I finish slicing the lemon and arrange the slices on a plate. When I reach Claire, she is just as I left her. Leaning over, dark hair falling over her face, blue eyes scanning the page. 

I place the plate next to her. Claire looks up and grins at me, the baby teeth in her smile lighting her face. "Thanks, Laura."
She takes a lemon slice and sucks on it. A minute later, her eyes return to its place on the page. 

I grin back and ruffle her hair. Then I walk away, to resume my piano playing.


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