Darnay Road 1

We live in the biggest house this side of Darnay Road. Every time after the two-fifteen chugs through town the Mr. Softie truck comes and I get one quarter and a dime out of the penny jar. I know it's dumb to call it a penny jar when it holds all kinds of silver money but that's what we call it, the penny jar, cause my granma is the one who started it in the depression. If you don't know what that is, it's this long time ago when people didn't have any money and they were poor and put cardboard in their shoes. If they had shoes probably.

So I run to the corner and wait for the truck and it always pulls up there and I get a cherry bomb pop or a chocolate swirl cone. Alice gets a banana pop or a vanilla cone and we sit on my porch steps and lick, lick, lick. She always talks too much and whatever she gets it melts onto her hand and one time it got on her dress and she couldn't play flashlight tag that night and I had to hide without her and I got so scared when Disbro Peak found me hiding in our favorite place, behind the washtubs by the back shed, I peed my underwears a little and I took them off on the backporch and stuck them in between the pop bottles so Granma wouldn't know but then I forgot and she found them and said Miss Bella we do not take our undies off on the backporch mercy me.

I go to the Catholic school and we're almost out for summer vacation. Every day when I get home I lay my schoolwork in a fan-shape on the kitchen table cause every paper has a star and they are all colors. I like purple best until I see the red. I like the gold ones too but mostly red is my favorite color and cherry. I like cherry anything at all.

My best friend Alice likes yellow and banana. Every year her mother makes her a banana cake for her birthday but I always get cherry with cherry cream cheese icing and my name in chopped up cherries. My name is Bella with two l's and that's good because L is my favorite letter. My whole name is Bella Christine but Granma says there aren't enough cherries at Moe's's store to spell all that so she just puts Bella. My last name is Swan so don't even think about it.

My room is pink too, and my bed has a dust ruffle with two ruffles. Alice May has one ruffle and hers is white and she spilled Kool-aid on it at the beginning of spring and she got a spanking. She says she did and I believe it. I just have to stand in the corner though cause Granma can't hit me on account of my eyes. She says they are just too beautiful.

We are nearly out of school but we still have the parade and the school picnic and it will be the best picnic there ever was. I am going to walk with Alice May and we are working on our banners. Each of us makes a banner to hold out of cardboard and broom handles and crepe paper that always fades on our hands. Mine is red and white and on it is a big picture of a cowboy roping a cow that Granma let me cut out of Look magazine. And I cut out words Granma traced that say, "Yipee-ki-yay School's Out."

Alice May's is yellow and white and she has pictures of flowers on hers and it says, "Have a Blooming Good Summer."

I have five whole dollars saved for the picnic. I've been saving all year. Alice May has three dollars and seventy-two cents so we are going to put that money together and divide it right down the middle. Right down it. We are going to ride the tilt-a-whirl twice, the wild pussy-cat once, and go through the haunted house which is really the top dusty floor of our school and the old stage made to look frightful by the eighth graders who'd as soon scare your liver out of your throat as look at you.

Alice says it really is haunted up there because she has looked up during recess and seen the face of Sister Mary Sponza our second grade nun who died during the school year when we were just seven years old, right there in the window. Sister Sponza came to school without her habit, just a veil she clutched under her chin. After that we didn't have her again, and then she died.

Now she haunts that top floor and Alice May sees her sometimes still clutching that veil that barely covers her bald head. Alice May also sees her Granma Ninny or Nettie, she calls her both. She says Granma comes at night and sits on her bed and smiles at her. That scared me so bad I slept with my Granma for a week until she said I couldn't no more cause I kick her all night.

I was going to be a nun but now I'm going to be a movie star or a folk singer. I haven't decided. But Alice May and I have many songs we've learned and she sings soprano and I sing alto. She says I sing like a boy but Granma says I do not sound like a boy at all I sound like a girl who is nearly nine who has a nice full voice and then she says I kind of sound like Patti Page, but Alice says Ricky Nelson.

Alice May slapped me once, so I pulled her hair. But we were way younger then. But sometimes she makes me mad and Granma says we must take a break. I watch her from my window then. She lives across the street in big gray. We call my house big white.

When Alice plays by herself without me it makes me sad.

She looks too small and I don't know what she's saying cause she always talks to herself and she needs me to remind her it looks crazy.

Our favorite games are paper dolls, the Lennon Sisters are best. We divide those two each. And our Barbie dolls. Alice May got black haired Barbie and I got blonde hair Barbie. She has three outfits for hers and I have two. Hers is Barbie and mine is Barbra. That way we can tell them apart. I wanted Barbie, too, and I called it first but that's what she slapped me about and she was sorry so I said okay I'd be Barbra cause Barbra Stanwyck is okay and blonde.

I hate, hate, hate boys. They are stinky and dumb. I was in love with Timothy Bart last year but this year I think he has cooties. But he won't leave me alone he always tries to walk home with me. So me and Alice run.