On bright summer mornings, Mom scooted my sister and me outside and latched the back door behind us. When we wanted back into the house, we knocked, yelled for mom and asked permission. When daddy came home from work he didn’t have to knock, the door was always unlatched. Mom greeted him with a kiss wearing a freshly ironed floral housedress and red lipstick.
Today, like all the other summer days, mom scooted my sister and me outside after breakfast. She latched the screened door behind us. Sitting on the back porch, we attached our rusted roller skates onto worn PF Flyers. My sister wore the silver skate key around her neck tied with a dirty shoe string. I could hear the radio playing Glen Miller band music and smelled the faint aroma of bleach coming from inside the house.
Daddy was away on a business trip. Mom said he wouldn’t be home until Sunday evening. He sold Hoover vacuum cleaners. Mom said Daddy was promised a big raise if he sold a lot of them. I think she missed him when he left home because I could hear her crying through their bedroom door at night when daddy was gone.
After fastening our skates, my sister and I skated to the corner store. Mom gave us each a penny to buy candy. She said it was our allowance for drying the dishes last night. It wasn’t often that mom gave us pennies. Sometimes she just gave us big hugs. I liked pennies better.
Entering the store with our skates on, we rolled up to the front counter.
“Hello Mr. Mendez. Sally and I have a penny. Can we buy some candy?” Sally and I held up our pennies to show Mr. Mendez. He reached for a big jar of red jelly beans, my favorites. He dumped a scoopful into a white paper sack. Sally pointed to a purple sucker on the counter. She liked the color purple.
“Say hello to your mother,” Mr. Mendez said as we skated to the door.
We ate our treats on the stoop in front of the store. Then I dared Sally to race me to the corner. My sister, even though she was smaller and younger than me, won the race. She said I let her win but I didn’t.
Holding hands, we skated home. A white pick-up truck was parked in our driveway. It had ladders and paint cans in the back of the truck.
I removed my skates and knocked on the latched door.
“Mom let me in. I have to go to the bathroom.” I really did have to go but I also wanted to see who was visiting us. We rarely had visitors. Sometimes Reverend Miller stopped by after church and sometimes Grandma Jones visited. She didn’t visit often because she lived in the next state and had to take the Greyhound bus. Mom said she was old and didn’t like to travel much anymore. I didn’t like it when grandma came because she stayed a long time and I had to give up my bed and sleep on the living room sofa.
I knocked on the latched door again. “Mom, let me in.” Again, no answer. I put my ear against the screen and listened. I could hear Glen Miller’s music on the radio but no other sound.
I shouted again only this time I kicked the latched door. If she didn’t let me in soon, I would pee my pants. My sister started to cry. “I want mommy,” she said.
I sat her on the stoop and put my arm around her when the latched screen door finally opened. A tall man with dark brown hair wearing paint-covered overalls came out carrying a can of paint.
“Hello girls,” he said as he turned and smiled at mom. The man put the paint can in the back of his truck. He honked his horn and waved.
Mom held the door open for us. She was wearing a freshly ironed housedress and red lipstick.
“How about lunch?” she asked with big smile.
While we ate mom stirred a pot on the stove and hummed to a Glen Miller tune.
“Mom is that man going to paint our house?”
My mom continued to stir the pot, “Maybe.”
After lunch she shooed us back outside and latched the door.


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