The Playthings of God (pt5)

She asked Mom about it, because bringing it up to Dad was something she did not want to do. He expected so much of her and she still had no idea what she really wanted.

“Patty becoming a vet is nice and all,” Mom said, “but I would choose something that would be useful. Like my being a seamstress. I no longer work fully as a seamstress, but having done so before having you has certainly helped with our family, hasn’t it?”

Natie nodded. “I guess.”

“Then how about becoming a cook? You can help me more with the meals. See if you enjoy it.”

Natie did that, because spending time with Mom was fun. And while they were doing that, Mom spoke more about cooking than she did about the upcoming Cleaning. If she focused on that, really tried hard, then she was very tired by bedtime and all Dad would do was take her book from her bag and read her whichever story she asked him too.

“Dad? Patty said I’m too old for bedtime stories now.”

“Don’t be silly. You will never too old to have a story.”

Natie wondered if cooking would be anything like a bedtime story. Putting in the ingredients. Letting the fire change it. But in the end she would rather climb a tree and press flowers. That was where she was when the Cleaning commenced.

Attention returned

The bartender was shy. That was the only explanation.

He’d seemed so certain, standing behind the counter. With the orders coming in and out, with the crowds giving their stories. He stood there, face like a stone that somehow was welcoming to all who knew him.

But now the child stood in the back with the bartender as the older man showed (mainly through gestures) how to use the stove. The child watched with awe- both the usage of the appliance and how the walls of the man, once so sturdy, shook when faced with being the one scrutinized.

The child listened and then reached for the spatula, only for the bartender to shake his head. The child found himself wearing an apron. The cloth had been hastily tailored, fixed for his height. Just for him.

A small smile rose on his face, looking up at the bartender.

The bartender smiled back.