I can’t remember when Mom married Ronald, I was only two. But I do remember my real Dad coming around. And how he used to set me on his knee and start bouncing while singing, “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain” in a Johnny Cash voice. Imagining I was riding six white horses, I’d cry, “Faster, Daddy, faster.” And his leg would jiggle so much I’d teeter before falling off in a heap of giggles.
Once, while rolling around in a fit of laughter I looked past Dad at the popcorn ceiling and noticed a long crack from one side to the next. “Look Daddy, a river.”
His tickle hands halted, and he froze, staring at that crack for the longest time. Then he stood and walked away. Kept right on going out the front door.
Pretty soon after that, I started riding a stick horse.
Dad sang, “We’ll all go out to greet her when she comes,” but he hasn’t greeted me in so long I can’t remember.
I wonder what I did wrong.
Anyhow, once during a visit to Aunt Kay’s when I was supposed to be sleeping, I crept down the hall to listen to her and Uncle Mike rant about Ronald and Mom.
“Just call me Ronny, like Governor Reagan,” Kay mocked.
“Ronny, my ass. He thinks he’s hot shit because he drives a Lincoln and lives in The Estates,” Mike said.
“Did you see her face?”
“She tries to cover it up with make-up, but I know.”
“Asshole,” Mike said.
I knew what the make-up was covering. The same thing our perfectly mowed lawn and etched concrete patio did. The same thing shrouding our windows. Mom was just as skilled at curtaining her face in Cover Girl beige as she was in sewing flawless window coverings.
And we all pretended to believe that the discolorations beneath the foundation were just smears, places she hadn’t expertly applied the make-up.
Like today when I got back from camp.
Yeah, if my real dad was here, he’d kick Ronny’s ass. Lay him flat. Wrap Mom up in his strong arms, (They were strong, weren’t they?) and whisk us away to a place beyond the mountain.
The previous is an excerpt from my nearly complete novel, Bong Years.
About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry, Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward co-wrote Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet, and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net