It seems I double-booked myself for this week’s post, so I’ll do something I haven’t done yet: taking a previous prompt response and going further. I was surprised how easy “Grape Juice” came, so I tried extrapolating. I’m not too confident about this piece, but it’s a first draft, and I’m surprised, again, at how easy it came along.
This week I also had guest post published with The Wacky Writer on admitting I’m not good at writing description of a place and why that’s not such a bad thing. You’ll notice I didn’t do much describing on this week’s post either and focused on dialogue to move along the story – that’s what I enjoy about writing, moving along the story.
Happy reading, and please do pay The Wacky Writer a visit.
From that first sleepover on a school night, Milo and Kenny ate lunch together every day. When Milo brought a can of La Croix in his lunch box one day and let Kenny try it, Kenny had made a face like when Milo had asparagus.
“It kinda tastes like when I burped grape juice at your house that time.”
Milo had laughed and taken a sip of the drink himself. “You can’t say that! This flavor is my favorite!”
“Want to try mine?” Kenny handed him a green can with golden letters. The can was cool and the bubbles tickled Milo’s nose as he took a sip.
“That’s gingerale! But why does it taste funny?”
“Funny? That’s what gingerale tastes like.”
“That’s not like the one we have at home. You can have some today if I can find it in the garage.”
Kenny smiled and said, “I’m bringing Hungry Hungry Hippos.”
“You don’t want to play Sword Escape? I can’t pass the dungeon level.”
“But you said you’d never played Hungry Hungry Hippos!”
“It just sounds like a game for little kids.”
Every day since that first sleepover, Kenny came over Milo’s house. He didn’t come over on some weekends, except for that one time Mom had gone to pick up Kenny from his house to take them to the zoo. Kenny had brought his address and his mom’s phone number written on his notebook the day before. Mom had called Kenny’s mom to ask if Kenny could come to the zoo.
When they’d gone to pick him up, Milo was looking for houses and yards, but he only saw buildings with lots of doors and windows on them, with stairs in the middle. The very top of the buildings were pointy like Milo’s and his neighbors’ houses, and when Mom was parking, Kenny came out one of the doors, jumped up and down and waved. He looked funny bouncing behind the banister.
“Stay here, honey. I need to talk to Kenny’s mom before we go.”
“Can I go too?”
“No, you stay here.” Mom left then, and the doors of the car clicked. Milo couldn’t see much from the backseat, but the top of Mom’s head showed on top of the railing and a lady’s face outside the open door Kenny had come out from. After a minute, the door closed and Mom turned and walked to the stairs in the middle of the building. That’s how you get up there.
Milo was worried Kenny couldn’t come out after all because he hadn’t seen him behind the railing, so when he came down the stairs next to Mom, Milo smiled and scooted to the next seat so Kenny could climb in.
“Hi!” Kenny said and grabbed onto the door to climb inside the car.
“Hi, Kenny!” When both boys were sitting and had their feet dangling off the seat, Milo said, “Mom, can I come over Kenny’s next week?”
Kenny started bouncing on his seat and clapping his hands. “You can finally see my room!”
“Seatbelts, both of you, please,” Mom said and turned on the car. “Kenny would need to ask his Mom first, and you have really slacked off your piano lately, Milo. You need at least two days next week, and both of you need to do homework. Mrs. Myers has already called me to say your homework is always only half way done for math, and you haven’t spent much time outside.”
“We can be outside when you’re over my house,” Kenny said. “There’s some grass on the back and we can play catch.”
“We’ll see,” Mom said. “Now, seatbelts, or we’re not going anywhere and they’ll be out of popcorn and ice cream at the zoo by the time we get there.”
It took two weeks after the zoo visit for Milo to be allowed to visit Kenny’s house. Mom said they couldn’t have a sleepover that time, but that they could have dinner before he got picked up.
Kenny’s room was smaller than Milo’s, and his bed wasn’t as comfortable. He had posters on the walls, of video games and basketball players, and he had a laundry hamper in the corner of the room. His computer had a bigger screen than Milo’s, but it was black and not gray and Milo’s had a white apple on the back. Kenny’s desk was brown and had chips on the corners, and the chair looked like the ones in Milo’s backyard.
‘So what do you want to do?” Kenny asked.
“I dunno. What do you usually do when you’re here?”
“Change my clothes before going to your house.”
“What other games do you have besides Hungry Hungry Hippos?”
“All the other ones have missing pieces or they’re boring, like Uno,” Kenny said and sat on the floor. “We could play catch?”
“I don’t know. Mom told me not to go outside.”
“I don’t know. She said we could play catch at my house next time.”
Kenny didn’t say anything and plucked a thread from the carpet. He pulled and pulled and there was a rip.
“Oops,” he said. “Crap. My mom will kill me.”
“Put the laundry hamper on top of it,” Milo said. “Then just carry the laundry down and don’t let her come into your room.”
“We carry laundry to the car,” Kenny said. “Then we drive to the laundromat.”
“What’s a laundromat?”
“It’s a place with a lot of washers and dryers where we do laundry. We use quarters.”
Milo stayed quiet and watched Kenny pluck out more threads. There was brown floor peeking out and dust coming off every thread.
“You know how in your house there’s only one of each? In a laundromat, there are rows of them on top of each other. My mom lets me ride around in the carts sometimes.”
“Why are there carts?” Milo asked.
“To get the laundry around,” Kenny said and looked up. He suddenly stopped plucking and he looked at Milo. “There’s a cart from Giant in the back! We could go ride it!”
Milo smiled and was almost off the bed, but he stopped. These were his favorite jeans that Mom let him wear to Kenny’s, and he didn’t want to get them dirty.
“C’mon!,” Kenny said. “It’ll be fun. Then we can have pizza bagels.”
“I’ve never had pizza bagels!” Milo stood up and followed Kenny. They went out the front door and down the stairs Mom had come up the day of the zoo. Then they ran to the back and saw the grocery cart.
“Get in,” Kenny said. “I’ll push you down the hill.”
Milo climbed in and twisted so he was sitting cross-legged in the basket. Kenny was at the handle, pushing, but the cart didn’t move much. Milo was bouncing inside the basket once Kenny got it going, but it was fun. They made it to the small hill facing the parking lot where Mom parked and Kenny let go. Milo rolled down and let out a scream. Kenny couldn’t have heard him, but Milo’s scream was cut off when the cart suddenly stopped and tipped forward. He felt a pain on his knees and hands, and when he tried turning around he couldn’t for the cart on top of him.
Kenny was next to him, trying to lift the cart off him, but he couldn’t, and Milo started crying. He couldn’t hear what Kenny was saying, but then the cart was off him and Milo got up.
“I’m sorry, momma,” Kenny said. “We wanted to take turns down the hill.”
“What if I hadn’t pulled up just then, Kenny?” Kenny’s mom was yelling. “My shift ended early and I come home with dinner and you’re out here with your little friend.”
Both boys looked down and sniffed. Milo wanted to go home.
“Get inside,” Kenny’s mom said. “Wash up and set the table. We’re having fried chicken.”
On the way up the stairs, Kenny asked, “Have you ever had fried chicken?”
Milo shook his head and wiped at his eyes. His t-shirt was dirty and his jeans were dusty. His palms had scrapes, and when he walked up the stairs he saw the rip on his jeans and little tiny rocks on the cut. Milo wiped at it but it really hurt his knee.
“Ow!” He yelled and the tears started coming again. “My mom won’t let me come over again.”
“It’s okay, Milo, don’t cry,” Kenny said when they had walked through the front door. “We’ll wash our hands and I’ll wipe down your jeans. I get dirt off jeans all the time – I always roll down that hill.”
“Okay,” Milo said and wiped his nose and rubbed his hand on his t-shirt. At least fried chicken sounded good. Mom didn’t let him eat anything fried.