By: Rebecca Harville
“NCIS is about to come on,” Tom said.
Rikki nodded, looked over at Sara and said, “You know what that means.”
“No,” Sara begged, “I’m in the fourth grade. I can stay up later than nine o’clock. ‘Sides I want to see Daddy on TV.”
“Nice try,” Tom interjected. “Remember what happened last week with Mommy’s act. Go brush your teeth.”
Sara turned to her mother.
“Don’t look at me,” Rikki said. “He’s right.”
Sara huffed and stomped her feet all the way to the bathroom. Rikki had to follow after her because of Sara’s tendency to not brush her teeth—last time at the dentist, Rikki was told Sara had three cavities. Three. She was smart like her mother, what with Rikki trusting her to brush her teeth, only to make her look like a fool. But now Rikki made sure the little girl never outsmarted her, unlike in the past.
Sara brushed her teeth, making sure to turn to her mother in order to show the foam that the toothpaste produced. After she rinsed, it was time for her to be put to bed.
The bedroom was pink—bubblegum pink walls, pastel pink bedding, and hot-pink furniture—decorated with paintings that Sara was in progress of finishing on the walls. Rikki got a sickly-sweet taste in her mouth every time she walked into the room. She hated the color pink, but it was Sara’s room. Sara liked pink. Rikki gave her the freedom to pick whatever color for her walls and furniture as a base for her wall paintings and yet be furniture paintings, and she choose pink.
“You know the drill,” Rikki said. “You wanna read?”
“No,” Sara declined.
“Oh? Is tonight a Bach or Mozart night?”
“Tonight a Joni night?”
Sara shook her bright blonde head.
Again, Sara shook her head.
“Please, don’t tell me KidzBop.”
Sara giggled but still shook her head.
“Well, I guess that means your relax-hour will be terminated for tonight,” Rikki said as she headed for the door but then looked back. “However, you have until I get to the door.” Rikki’s hand was on the light-switch.
“You want t’play one lie, one truth?” Sara asked.
“You mean two truths and a lie?” Rikki responded, turning to face her.
“Too much work,” Sara said with a wave of the hand. “One lie and one truth is easier.”
“Alright,” Rikki said with a shrug, heading to sit criss-cross on the bedsheets, “who’s going first?”
“I don’t feel like going yet.”
“Fine,” Rikki took a few seconds to think about it and decided to go with her fall back situations since this was the first time she’s ever played this type of game with Sara. “I accidentally punched someone in the throat over a cupcake, or I stole an Etch-a-Sketch by accident.”
“Okay, how do you steal something by accident?” Sara asked.
“You don’t get to just ask questions with this game,” Rikki declared, wide eyed. “That’s not how this game works. I say the choices, and you say which one is the lie.”
“No, I get to ask questions,” Sara stated. “How do you steal something by accident?”
“Alright, you want details or water-down?”
“I was around five years-old,” Rikki began, “so it was in the early ‘90s—your momma’s not that old.
“Anyways, I didn’t know any better. I didn’t even know what I did was wrong. It was just supposed to be a ‘special’ day. I was getting my ears pierced, and for some reason, my family and my mom’s friends were making it out to be some sort of rite of passage.
“The day didn’t truly start for me until we were in my mom’s old golden Camry. The one thing I remember about that car from that time was my car seat. It was one of those big kid car seats—the one where you just used the regular old seatbelts to buckle in—and was black with a bright blue spot where the ass goes. The fact that it had two cup holders was a big deal for me even though I accidentally melted some candy in one of them to the point where I wouldn’t open that one or even look at it. However, the thing that my mom talks about whenever talking about that car is how she always had a wooden spoon next to the emergency brake in case my brother or I were making too big of a ruckus and she needed to spank one of us since finding a switch on the side of the road would be too exhausting for her. Thinking back on it, this was before she would really use it. That was after the divorce.”
“Now, this has started to turn sad.”
“You want the story or not?”
“Ah’ight so, in the car with me wasn’t just my mom. My brother was there. He was ten at the time, so my mom couldn’t just leave him at home with no supervision, especially since my dad was probably sleeping off a hangover like he usually did on Saturday mornings. My brother and I couldn’t’ve been any more different. I was night. He was day. He had an unruly mop of blonde hair and same color eyes as the sky on a sunny day while I had hair so dark that looked like I accidently burnt it on an ironing board and eyes so brown that if it didn’t have white in them would look like I had taken out demon’s eyes and put them in my eye sockets. He would try to help someone if they had fallen while I would laugh my ass off. The only thing people would say that applied to both of us would be we would become lobsters if left outside for more than thirty minutes even with the use of sunscreen.”
“Why do you and your brother look so different?”
“When have you seen my brother?”
“You showed me a picture of him when we were on the bus that one time. You said that I looked like him.”
“Oh, true,” Rikki said with a nod. “Anyway, you know how I grew up in a small town, right?”
“Well, the closest mall to my town is about, I don’t know, fifteen minutes from the house I grew up in, and that mall is pretty small. I mean, it was a sad day when Wendy’s left the food court but a mortherfucking joyous one when a Chick-Fil-A came in—two years after? Yeah, two years after.”
“Where’s the stealing?”
“I’m getting to it, God!” Rikki cried. “ Okay, we all get to the mall. We get into Claire’s—the only place my mom thought was child friendly enough for ear piercing. It was also cheap. My mom walks over to the counter to ask for, ‘her little daughter to get her ears pierced.’ The Claire’s employee sits me down in the designated ear piercing area onto, what my memory serves me, the highest fucking chair to ever be a high chair and tries to explain to a five-year-old the importance of after-earring care. A five-year-old. I just wanted my ears pierced. I didn’t want all that responsibility thrusted onto me.
“So, I’m sitting in the chair after all of that is explained to me, and the girl pulls out a black marker, which was obviously to mark where the piercing is going to go. But, I didn’t know that. I thought she was going to draw something on my face with it. I mean, it is the perfect opportunity to draw a moustache on a little kid’s face, but no, she just stamps one small dot on each ear and then goes for the gun and puts it up to my ear and then…”
Rikki started to lean towards Sara, and Sara mirrored. Suddenly, Rikki clapped loudly, causing Sara to jerk back, and then said. “I got my ears pierced.”
Sara’s face was boiling with a fiery passion as she grabbed the pillow behind her and started to hit Rikki with it, “You stupid fuck!”
“Okay, Okay!” Rikki shouted once she got tired of being hit and tried to distance herself from Sara. “Don’t cuss. It’s not nice.”
“Well, you do it all the fucking time. You and Daddy even call each other ‘stupid fucks.’”
“Touché,” Rikki said, playfully pinching Sara’s nose. “Getting back to the story, my mom followed the employee to the cash register to pay, and she forced me to follow.
“Now, we’re at the register, and I see the Etch-a-Sketch. It was a beautiful purple miniature Etch-a-Sketch. At that point in my life, I only had two Etch-a-Sketches, and they weren’t even mine. They were my grandparents’, and I had to share them with not only my brother but also my two cousins. Now, one of those Etch-a-Sketches was green, and the other one was red. But, this one was purple—my favorite color at the time. I just had to have it. So, I put the purple Etch-a-Sketch onto the counter for the cashier to ring up and put it in the plastic shopping bag after my mom pays for the piercing kit.”
“Okay, how did you not know that you stole it?”
“I don’t know. I thought a packet of gum type deal, ya’ know, where they let you walk out the store with it in your hand.”
“But, you put it in the shopping bag as you were leaving the store.”
“Have you never heard of waiting to get home to cherish the toy?” Sara just squinted her eyes when Rikki made that remark. “Anyway, on the car ride back home I am just waiting to play with the toy. I was so happy about the toy that I was looking at the bag every single minute so much so that it seemed like the car ride would never end.
“But, we got home. I get it out of the bag and start playing with it and that’s when my mom decides to notice the toy. Knowing she never bought the toy, she goes, ‘Rik, where did you get that toy?’”
“No,” Sara gasped.
“And, my eyes are wide open at this point, and I’m like, ‘You bought it when I got my ears done.’
“She’s like, ‘No, I didn’t. I just paid for your ears.’
“So, she rushes me back to Claire’s and forces me to go in with her and explains what happened.”
“What they do?”
“Nothing. They said, ‘It happens all the time, and it’s okay.’”
“Didn’t you get punished?”
“What kind of question is that?” Rikki retorted. “Of course, I got the whole shah-bang—several whuppings, standing in the corner, not talking to me for a week, you name it.”
Sara’s eyes were wide with mortification, given that Rikki never did anything like that to her, and there was a pause for a beat before Sara murmured, “Truth.”
“What?” Rikki asked perplexed.
“That one’s the truth.”
Realization flooding back to Rikki’s face as she said, “Oh, right,” and in a stroke of lighting, her face went back to neutral as she spoke, “No.”
“That one was the lie.”
“How could that one be the lie? It was so nicely told and everything. It wasn’t like a watered-down version.”
“Have I never told you to base all your lies on something that’s true? I did steal the Etch-a-Sketch. It just wasn’t by accident.”
“I feel so cheated.”
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks.”
“So what happened with the cupcake story?”
“The guy jokingly reached for my cupcake, so my hand automatically formed a fist and hit him in the throat.”
Sara crossed her arms and huffed.
“What can I say? It was a reflex.” Rikki then leaned towards Sara, poked her in the arm, and whispered with a smile, “You don’t take momma’s food. Sleep tight, baby.”
Rikki stood up and headed for the door.
“You wouldn’t do anything like that if I did something like that?”
“Babe, you called me a ‘stupid fuck’ earlier, and what did I do?”
“Nothing? Oh well, I thought I was scolding you. Maybe I should start being more like my mother, but if I wanted to do that, we would have paint over your paintin—”
“I’m good. I would like to keep on painting.”
“That’s good. I quite like your paintings. You ready to go to bed now?”
Sara lays back, putting the covers over her head.
Rikki left the room, turning off the light and closing the door behind her.