1 -Growing Up
Nathan couldn’t decide if he wanted to get up or stay in bed; it was summer after all. He had almost two whole months to do whatever it was that he felt like doing without the constraints of time being placed on him with his school schedule. Once the fall started, there would be football practice on top of his school work. But not today. Today, he was going to catch up with some of his friends and hit the local swimming hole. He was going to have tread lightly, though, because he knew his mother did not tolerate noise, especially first thing in the morning. He did not even know if she was awake yet, he could not hear any noise coming from any other part of the house, and his sister had stayed with one of her friends last night.
Nathan lay there in his bed for a few more minutes staring at the ceiling and listening for any creak of the hard wood floors that might let him know his mother was awake.
Maybe I can just get up and sneak out of the house without Mom knowing if I’m even up or not, Nathan thought to himself.
He hated leaving the house without his mother’s knowledge; there would be heck to pay later. But, as Nathan continued to lie in his bed, he could not help but think of the time he was wasting. It was his summer vacation, after all, and there was nothing worse than wasted time during the summer, especially if he could be at the local swimming hole with his friends. There would be time later to deal with the consequences of his decision, for now he would just go and hang with his friends. His mind was made up.
Nathan got up quietly and made his bed. If his mother should get up and do her normal room inspections, as least he would not get in trouble for an unmade bed. Ever since his dad had died earlier in the year, his mother became an unemotional robot; that was the best way he knew how to explain her habits.
Nathan took a moment to sit at the small desk his mother had gotten him so he could do his homework in his bedroom without disturbing her. He opened the very bottom desk drawer and pulled out a picture folded in half. The family he was a part of now was so much more different than his family had been just five months ago. He looked at his father’s face and longed to have his old family back again. His mother, in the picture, seemed so carefree. She was even smiling. So were he and his sister.
Five months ago.
Oh, Dad, Nathan thought, if only you hadn’t died, maybe Mom would still be happy. Maybe me and Joanna wouldn’t have to walk around as quiet as mice. I might even still have most of my toys.
Nathan’s mom had boxed up everything that made the slightest of noises because she couldn’t bear to hear any sounds that might be happy sounds. Not since his dad had died. Nathan knew his mom was sad; but, they were all sad for a while. Joanna got past her grief. He had gotten past his grief. He couldn’t understand why his mother’s grief made everyone quit be happy.
Nathan shoved his picture back in its drawer, closing the drawer quietly, and whispering even quieter, “Well, Nathan, it’s now or never. Get up and go swimming or your summer will waste away and you find yourself sitting in the sixth grade wondering where your summer went.”
As quietly as Nathan could, he slipped his backpack containing his swimming trunks, a fresh towel, and a few snacks on his back. Opening his bedroom door as quietly as he could, he looked to his right, toward his mother’s bedroom; her bedroom door was shut. He looked to the left, listening for sounds coming from the kitchen; there were no sounds. Not bothering to close his own bedroom door shut again, he made a beeline for the front door. He turned the door knob very slowly, making as little sound as he could. Once the door was open enough for him to squeeze through, he slid out into the mid-morning sun, shut the front door quickly, not caring if it made a sound or not, and raced down the block as fast as he could.
He made it!
He didn’t stop running until he had reached the end of the block and, then, he slowed down to a brisk walk. He turned left at the stop sign onto Chattanooga Street, walked past the next two streets, turned right at the third street, and walked to the fourth house where his friend, George, lived.
He knocked on the front door, then opened it and walked right in. Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter never minded Nathan entering the house in such a manner, they had always told him to just come in whenever; but, Nathan always knocked first before entering, and he knew his mother would be very mad if she knew that he just walked into other people’s homes without first being invited in.
“Well, I’m not at home. And I can walk in if I want,” Nathan said, not realizing he had talked out loud.
“What’s that?” Mr. Carpenter said.
Nathan saw Mr. Carpenter sitting on the couch with a newspaper in his hands, “Oh, nothing, Mr. Carpenter. It’s all good. Is George in his room? We’re supposed to meet up with Robert and Conrad for some swim time today.”
At that moment, Mrs. Carpenter came out of the kitchen, “Nathan! What a surprise!” She winked at Mr. Carpenter.
Nathan let out a loud chuckle, then realizing he had been a bit too much on the noisy side, coughed, and said quietly, “Oh, Mrs. Carpenter, you said I could just come in, so I did.”
Mr. Carpenter stood up and walked over to Nathan, tousling Nathan’s hair, “Nathan, you’re always so quiet. But, never mind that. Mrs. Carpenter was just joking with you. Besides, we knew you would be here sometime this morning. George has been talking about Pearson Pond since last night. He’s still upstairs. You go on up, and just let us know when you boys leave.”
Nathan knew that other homes were not as quiet as his own, but he still tried very hard to be quiet when he was inside anyone’s home. His friends picked on him for always being so quiet; but, his friends didn’t have the mother that he did.
Nathan shook his head as if he was shaking off a sad thought. Not today, he thought, I’m not going to be sad or let my mom make me sad today. Not today. And, then, he walked, fast, towards George’s room, knocking once on George’s bedroom door before entering.
Nathan liked being in George’s room. It was full of Lego toys and dinosaur posters and superhero figurines; not like Nathan’s functional room which only had a bed, a desk and a chair, and his dresser. “Hey ya, George! You about ready to go?”
George stood up from where he was working on a new Lego house, “Nathan! I wondered if you were gonna make it over. I didn’t know if your mom would let you come or not.”
“Well, don’t tell your mom or dad, but, well, my mom doesn’t even know I’m gone. I kinda snuck out. I just couldn’t face her this morning. She’s always just so sad.”
“Ah, Nathan, you know my mom is gonna ask.”
Nathan looked at his feet, “Maybe. But, she hasn’t yet. Can we go now? Please?”
George had been Nathan’s friend since they were in Ms. Kresler’s Kindergarten class; every year their friendship grew and grew. Ever since Nathan’s dad had died, Nathan hadn’t been able to do much with him and his other friends and George didn’t want to have to miss swimming; but, George also knew that his mom would ask Nathan if Nathan’s mom knew where he would be swimming.
George grabbed his backpack off his bed, he’d already gotten everything he would need and put it into the backpack, “Hey, Nathan, don’t worry about it. But, just play it cool, follow my lead.”
The boys headed out to the living room, where Mr. Carpenter was again reading his newspaper. Mrs. Carpenter was sitting in her chair flipping through a magazine. They both looked up as the boys walked over to the front door.
George spoke first, “Um, Dad, Mom, we’re just gonna head on over to Robert’s house, Conrad should already be there. Once we know what we’re doing, for sure, I’ll give you a call and let you know; okay?”
Mrs. Carpenter said, “Be careful boys.”
Mr. Carpenter said, “All right, George. But, don’t forget to call me before heading over to the pond.”
George and Nathan gave each other a look and started out the front door when Mrs. Carpenter spoke again, “Nathan, dear, your mother does know where you’ll be and for how long; yes?”
It was more of a statement than a question, and Nathan knew that Mrs. Carpenter would expect an honest answer.
“Ah, Mom,” began George. “He’s here; ain’t he? That must mean his mom knows he’s here.”
Mrs. Carpenter looked at her son, then at Nathan, who just stood as still as he could, “George, you know better than to sass me; but, I guess you’re right.” Nathan seemed to relax a little bit. “Nathan?” Mrs. Carpenter continued, “Are you alright? You look like you’re about to run away from something.”
Nathan wondered if Mrs. Carpenter could read his mind; he often thought about running away, especially since his father was dead now. “Um, no, I mean, yes. I mean, yes, yes, I’m okay. And, no, I’m gonna run away from anything. I’m … uh …I’m, well, I just wanna get to the swimmin’ hole before I run outta daylight.”
Mrs. Carpenter picked her magazine back up and without looking at the boys replied, “Okay, then boys, we’ll see you later. George, don’t forget to call like you said you would.”
Nathan and George opened the front door and walked quickly to the sidewalk and away from the house before they said another word.
“Boy, that was close,” George said.
The two boys walked, going back the way Nathan had walked to get to George’s house. They crossed Chattanooga Street to the second house on the left side, Robert’s house. Robert and Conrad were both out in the front yard and waved as George and Nathan approached.
“Hey ya, George! Hey ya, Nathan!” Robert exclaimed. “It’s about time you two got here. Me and Conrad was fixin’ to go to the pond without ya.”
Nathan spoke before George had a chance to, “It’s my fault, I’m sorry. We’re here now, so let’s go.”
“Hey, Nathan, you okay?” asked Conrad.
Nathan debated telling Robert and Conrad about sneaking out of his house before his mom got out of bed, then thought better of it. “Yeah, Conrad, I’m good. It’s nothing to worry about. Let’s go. I heard the other day as school was being let out for the summer that some of the girls were planning to make use of the pond this year, too. If we don’t get there soon, they really will take over the pond.”
With that, Robert and Conrad stood, and the four boys jetted off to Pearson’s Pond just as fast as their legs could carry them.
Ten minutes later, out of breath, the four boys flopped down on the bank of the pond, and to their surprise and delight, not a girl was in sight.
Breathing heavy from running, Robert laughed, “There ain’t a girl alive that’s gonna swim in a pond anyway!”
George, Nathan, and Conrad all agreed.
“Ah, man, I forgot to call my mom and dad!” George cried out, suddenly realizing that he had not made the call he promised he would make.
Robert answered him, “Ah, come on, George, if they know you’re at the pond, it’ll be okay. You can just tell ‘em later that you forgot.”
Nathan looked at George, “You can say it was my fault.”
Robert stood up and dragged his shirt over his head, “Come on, fellas. Time’s wasting, and I have to be home by one o’clock.”
Nathan tried as much as he could to have a good time splashing around in the pond with his friends; but, in his head, he was thinking about all the bad trouble he was going to be in when he got back home; he hadn’t even thought to leave a note. Although, he thought to himself, Mom would never care, note or not, she’s too busy being sad.
Just then George dunked Nathan under the water. Nathan came up sputtering and all thoughts of his mom were drowned out by the laughter of the boys doing what boys do best … make noise!
2 - The Fallout
Two hours later, George and Nathan left Robert and Conrad at Robert’s house; Conrad was always at Robert’s house even though he lived directly across the street from Robert. Conrad’s father was never home and his mother was always drunk; being an only child, Conrad preferred the company of his friends over the loneliness of his own home.
Walking the almost five hundred feet from Robert’s house to George’s house, both George and Nathan were having inner struggles. George knew he was in trouble because he failed to call his parents as he promised. Although, he thought to himself, if Mom and Dad were really mad at me, they would have come to the pond and made me go home, instead of swimming. George’s mood lightened a little bit and he was less fearful of the potential punishment he might or might not be facing soon.
Nathan’s contemplations were a little more complicated.
Nathan knew his mother would be awake and moving around the house by the time he got home, and he also knew that she would punish him for taking off and not letting her know what his plans were. Although, Nathan thought to himself, Mom knew I had plans to go swimming with George today. Nathan knew he was only deluding himself; he was going to have a huge punishment soon.
Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter were in the living room when the boys walked into George’s house. Mr. Carpenter spoke first, “George, you told your mother you would call her before you left Robert’s house to go to the pond. You never called.”
George replied, “Yes, sir. I’m sorry, Mom. Really, I am. Nathan and I didn’t even go inside Robert’s house. Robert and Conrad were waiting for us outside, and, well, we just made our way to the pond. I remembered once we got there that I hadn’t called you; but, well, gee, Mom, you know how it is!”
George was almost whining, Nathan cringed. If George was going to get into trouble for not calling his parents, Nathan was in even more trouble.
Mr. Carpenter spoke again, “George, stop the whining. Your mom and I trust you; but, I did contemplate going to the pond and making you come home.”
George looked contritely at his dad, and then turned his attention to his mom when his mom spoke, “George, ten-year-old boys just cannot walk here and there without their parents knowing where they are. You have to be more careful.”
George walked over to his mom and gave her a hug, “I’m sorry, Mom. I wasn’t thinking about you and Dad or that I said I would call you. I just wanted to go swimming with my friends. Am I grounded now?”
Mr. Carpenter walked over to his wife and son and tousled his son’s hair, “George, no, not this time. Yes, you worried your mother. Yes, you didn’t do what you said you would. But, you were also very honest about your motives. So, no, no grounding. This time. Don’t let it happen again.”
Turning her attention to Nathan, Mr. Carpenter said, “Nathan, are you staying for a while, or do you need to be heading home.”
Nathan looked at Mr. Carpenter trying to make out what was being said in what Mr. Carpenter did say. Did Mr. Carpenter know that he had left his house this morning without his mother’s knowledge? Was Mr. Carpenter suggesting he get on home himself? Or, was Mr. Carpenter inviting Nathan to stay and hang out with George some more?
Nathan continued to stand and stare at Mr. Carpenter, who still had his arm around Mrs. Carpenter, George had moved away and was playing with a knick knack on a side shelf, trying not to listen but listening. George wanted Nathan to stay longer, but things had changed at Nathan’s house and Nathan became more withdrawn from their easy friendship.
“Nathan?” asked Mr. Carpenter. “Did you hear me?”
“Greg, dear,” Mrs. Carpenter pulled herself away from her husband, “don’t be so harsh with him. Can’t you see he’s thinking.” To Nathan, she said, “Nathan, are you alright?”
“Um, yeah, sure. I gotta go. Yeah, I just remembered …” Nathan racked his brain for something that seemed truthful. “I just remembered that I have to clean my bedroom and dust the living room.”
Nathan turned to leave, then looked back, “Hey, George, I’ll call you tomorrow. Goodbye, Mr. Carpenter. Good bye, Mrs. Carpenter.”
Before anyone had a chance to reply to Nathan, Nathan had the front door opened, shut, and running home as though his life depended on it.
Nathan was on auto pilot, not paying any attention to the houses he passed on his way home. He had left George’s house in a fury, but by the time he had gotten back onto Chattanooga Street, he slowed down to a slow walk. He needed to go home, but he also didn’t want to get home. Not yet anyway. He knew his mom was going to go on a yelling spree; she always did, usually for the littlest infraction of the rules. Oh, how he hated his mom’s rules.
Wake up at 6:00 a.m. every day, regardless of what day it is.
Make your bed.
Brush your teeth.
Eat your breakfast without making any more noise than you need to.
No television. (In fact, every television set in the house had already been removed.)
No toys. (Nathan’s room consisted of his bed, his desk and his dresser. His sister’s room was just as bare.)
No friends over. (Nathan’s friends couldn’t understand this rule; Nathan didn’t understand it either.)
No leaving the house without permission first. (Nathan was definitely going to be in trouble.)
No staying the night with friends, for any reason. (His sister had been lucky enough to stay with a friend the previous night. Nathan wondered for a moment how his sister had gotten so lucky.)
No school activities. Just regular school work, then straight back home. (Nathan was going to play football for the sixth grade in the fall when school started back up; his mom didn’t know this yet, though.)
And on and on, the list goes. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. This isn’t allowed. That isn’t allowed.
As Nathan walked on, a single tear slipped out of his, and he whispered to himself, “Dad, why did you have to die?”
Nathan wiped the tear off his cheek; tears were something his mother didn’t allow.
As Nathan turned right, onto his street, his pace never changed, but his footsteps felt heavier the closer he got to his house. There was a car parked in the driveway as he started across the front lawn, and he watched his sister climb out. She was waving and telling her friend goodbye and thanking her friend’s mom for driving her home. It never ceased to amaze Nathan how he and sister could leave the house and turn their emotions and cheerfulness on, then come home and turn everything off.
His sister turned to look at him, “Where have you been Nathan?”
“Swimming with George, and Robert and Conrad.”
“Did Mom know your plans?”
“She knew last night when I went to bed.”
His sister looked at him with a hard glare, “Nathan, don’t play word games with me. Did Mom know about your plans this morning? You know as well as I do that what was said yesterday doesn’t amount to a hill of beans today.”
Nathan didn’t like that his sister was yelling at him, he’d get yelled at plenty by his mother, “Just shut up, Joanna! You’re not my mom, so don’t act like her!”
Joanna softened her gaze, “Nathan, look; when you mess up, it’s not just you who gets yelled at, I get yelled at, too. You get yelled at when I mess up. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is now. You can’t go around doing stupid stuff. I’m in High School now and I need to have some freedom; but, if you keep messing up, I might as well be chained to my bed.”
Nathan pushed Joanna as hard as he could, “You only think about yourself. You’re going to be in High School. You need your freedom. I mess things up for you. What about me? What am I supposed to do when you go off to college?”
“I’m not going anywhere yet, Nathan. We just have to learn to work together; okay? I promise to make a better effort; but, you have to help me out some, too.”
Nathan didn’t apologize for pushing his sister, but he did concede to her compromise, “Okay, I promise. I promise to try to be better behaved and not mess up so much. If you tell me how you got Mom to allow you to spend the night with your friend last night.”
Joanna laughed, “That was easy. I told her if I didn’t get to go to Susan’s house, I’d runaway. But, now that I think about it, I’m probably going to be grounded for a while, or worse. She’s had all night to think about it, and she’ll realize that I manipulated her.”
Nathan stared at his sister; he couldn’t believe that she was afraid to be in trouble, like him. “Joanna, what are we gonna do? Mom has changed so much. We can’t smile, we can’t laugh, we can’t go places, we can’t do this, we can’t do that. I don’t know how much longer I can deal with it.”
Joanna knew exactly how her brother felt, “Just remember, Nathan, we have to work together.”
Joanna and Nathan, together, looked at the front door to their house, “We might as well get it over with,” Joanna said.
Opening the front door, Nathan braced himself for what he knew was going to be the yelling of the century. He looked at Joanna one more time, she winked at him, and they stepped into the living room.
“Well, it’s about time!” their mother screamed. “I don’t know what the two of you are trying to do; but, don’t ever leave this house again unless I know about it!”
Joanna spoke first, “Mom, you let me go to Susan’s house last night. And, Nathan told you he had plans to go swimming with his friends.”
Nathan looked up at Joanna; she really was going to try to help him out just like she said. That made him feel better, until his mom started screaming again.
“Don’t ‘Mom’ me. From now on, you’ll say ‘Mother’; it will do you well to remember that. And, I really don’t care what you thought I knew last night. That was yesterday, this is today. Furthermore, since when did it become you two against me? Get one thing straight right now, neither one of you will ever leave this house again, unless you are going to school, and since it’s summer, that excuse is non-existent. You’ll both be excused now to your rooms. I’ll let you know when supper is ready.”
With that, their mother walked away towards the kitchen. Neither Joanna nor Nathan made any signs of moving, both lost in their own thoughts.
I might as well kill myself now, thought Joanna.
I’m still playing football. She can’t take that away from me, too, thought Nathan.
Joanna went to her bedroom, which was similar in fashion and function to Nathan’s; a bed and a desk for doing school work, and a dresser for clothing. There was nothing on the walls, her mother had taken down all her posters and pictures, telling her and Nathan that cheerfulness was not to be tolerated because it was a fallacy. Flopping down on her bed, Joanna started thinking about High School and everything she had previously hope to be able to do- get a boyfriend, be a cheerleader, campaign for Student Council; all the stuff that High School girls are supposed to do, the fun stuff with her girlfriends.
Joanna let the tears flow … quietly.
Nathan went to his bedroom. He walked over to his desk, opened the bottom drawer, and took the folded picture out. He thought about tearing it up; but, he couldn’t stand the thought of losing his dad forever. He shoved the picture into his backpack; he’d take the picture to school and leave it in his locker, at least then he wouldn’t have to worry if his mom- Excuse me, mother -he thought sarcastically, found it and got rid of it. Flopping on his bed, he started thinking about when school started in the fall, he was going to play football whether his mother liked it or not. He just had to play football; all his friends would be on the football team and he already felt alienated by them.
Nathan let the tears flow … quietly.
3 - Running Away and Homeless Shelters
Each summer day that came and went seemed harder than the one previous. Nathan did his very best to not upset his mother, as did Joanna. Try as each child might, though, their mother progressed in her depression, hardly getting out of the bed.
The telephone became a source of contention for their mother. Nathan’s friends were always calling to see if he could go to the swimming hole. Joanna’s friends were always calling about a new fashion to try out for school. Their mother finally disconnected the phone service, and Joanna and Nathan complained about it for a week.
“Mother!” cried Joanna. “It’s not fair! It’s just not fair! School starts in not more than a month and a half and I need to be able to coordinate outfits and activities with Susan and the others.”
Nathan was a little less subtle, “Mom, if we don’t have a telephone, George is going to be over here all the time making noise. A phone will keep things quieter.”
Their mother stood her ground, “There will no longer be a phone. Whatever is important enough to talk to your friends about, you can talk to them at school. And, Nathan, if I see so much a hair from your friend’s head, you will be in more trouble than you could ever imagine. I do not want to hear not one more word about a telephone.”
The television set in the living room was the next thing to go.
“Gee, mother, we never had the television on unless you allowed it, and we always kept the volume down. I don’t have any of my toys anymore, and you won’t let me go to my friends’ houses. How’s a guy supposed to keep himself busy?”
Joanna added her thoughts, “Mother, it really is not fair. I’m in High School now, and for Social Studies we are going to be required to comment on current events.”
Their mother looked at them with glazed eyes, “I am sorry to have had to do this to both of you; but, really, all that is ever on television is really loud cartoons or depressing news. I do not care to hear either.”
Joanna sighed, “I don’t know what’s happened to you, Mother; but, you can’t make us be depressed just because you are. We hate it just as much as you that Daddy died; but, life goes on. We’ve mourned, and now we live. Wake up, Mother, just wake up.”
Nathan watched his mother take three strides to where Joanna stood. You’ve done it now, Joanna, Nathan thought to himself. His mother slapped his sister; there was a big red handprint on Joanna’s cheek, but Joanna didn’t cry. Joanna glared at her mother, her mother turned to go to the kitchen, and Nathan ran to his room … crying.
When had things gotten so bad for his mother, and for him and Joanna? He was only ten years old; he should be out playing and being rowdy with his friends, but, here he was, watching his mother slap his sister, something that had never happened before.
Nathan couldn’t wait for school to start. Perhaps then it would be better. Perhaps then his mother would get past her grief. Perhaps then he and Joanna could have the life they had before their father died back. For now, all hope was gone.
Nathan heard his voice though it sounded like it was coming from far away.
That voice again, such a sweet voice. He didn’t want to open his eyes; he wanted to only hear that sweet angelic voice in his mind.
Nathan opened his eyes, sitting up in his bed. The room was dark. Joanna was sitting next to him. He knew now why the voice sounded so sweet, it was his sister’s voice, but it seemed too quiet and sad, like his mother’s.
Wiping the sleep away from his eyes, Nathan asked, “Joanna? What … What’s wrong?”
Nathan could see tears streaming down Joanna’s cheeks, “Nathan, listen to me. I’m running away. I can’t live here anymore. Mother has never hit me, or you, before. If she’s done it now, she’ll do it again; mark my word. Please, stay in your room for the rest of the night, and when you go down to breakfast in the morning, just say I’m not feeling well and will be in my room for most of the day. Just don’t tell Mother that I ran away.”
“Joanna? Where are you going? To Susan’s? What about school? Can I come with you? Maybe you can take me to Robert’s house, and I can live with him? Joanna, what’s wrong with Mother?”
“Nathan, enough with the questions, you’re not a baby anymore. It’s time that you grew up.”
“Joanna, you can’t go! Joanna, you can’t leave me here with Mother by myself.”
“Nathan, hush, you’ll wake Mother up, then we’ll both be stuck here.”
A noise came from down the hall. Nathan quickly flopped back down on his pillow and Joanna quickly ducked behind Nathan’s bed.
Then all was quiet again.
Joanna got up and laid her hand on Nathan’s shoulder, “Nathan, be good. Good bye.”
Nathan considered running to get his mother even as he watched Joanna walk out of his room. He stayed very still and quiet, not daring to breathe, while he listened to what he thought were his sister’s footsteps. He wanted to get out of bed and run after her; but, she was right, if he did that, he would be sure to make noise and wake his mother up … then the both of them would be in trouble. He silently wished his sister good luck and, just as soon as he thought he would the click of the front door as it was being shut, he shut his eyes and fell back asleep.
He had just gotten to sleep when he heard his mother screaming downstairs. Nathan rubbed his eyes in the early morning light and checked the small alarm clock by his bed; 6:30. As Nathan contemplated his alarm clock and how his mother insisted he and Joanna have perfect punctuality, he heard his mother screaming again. She probably found out about Joanna running away.
Nathan dressed quickly and headed to the kitchen, stopping dead in his tracks when he saw a policeman in the kitchen trying to calm his mother down. Sitting at the table was Joanna, she had been crying.
“Ma’am,” said the policeman. “You need to calm down so we can get to the bottom of the trouble.”
“Mother?” Nathan asked. “Is everything okay?”
His mother laughed, “Is everything okay? Now that’s about the funniest thing I’ve heard in my lifetime.”
Nathan didn’t understand sarcasm, but he did understand his mother being upset. He looked at Joanna’s tear-stained face; she looked back at him shaking her head.
The policeman was talking again, “Mrs. Jenkins, I’m sure this was just Joanna’s way of getting attention. She’s okay now. I’m sure you’re glad to have her home. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Thank you, Mr. Huxley, but no. We can take care of things on our own. Thank you for bringing Joanna home.”
Nathan looked sharply at his mother; he had never heard her say “Thank You” to anyone. It sounded strange to his ears.