Let’s get back to Milly. . .if you need a reminder, you can start here.  Then go here.  In essence, we’re now to Chapter 2.

Milly, Daryl, and Dad worked hard to get every thing put in place in their new house.  The living room transformed from an empty shell to a cozy room with rugs and a sectional couch.  Dad’s rust colored recliner got an optimal position in front of the TV.  Above the mantelpiece hung a large photograph of MIlly, Daryl, Dad, and Mom.  Milly stared at the picture, burning the image into her memory.  Mom was wearing a royal blue dress, her hand rested on Milly’s shoulder and her smile verged on a laugh.  The picture was only six months old.“Hey, Button,” Dad called from the kitchen.  “You about ready to go fill out that library card?”

Milly blinked.  “Yeah, let’s go.”

“What’s Daryl doing today?”

“Oh, he went to meet those guys from his baseball team.” Milly twisted a strand of hair around her index finger, chewing on the ends.

“Don’t do that,” Dad swatted her hand.  “Why don’t you go to the ball park sometime?  Daryl says they have slides and swings on the other side of the out field.”

She shrugged, pulling the wet ends of hair through her fingers.

“Maybe when school starts?”

They pulled into the library parking lot.  The tiny library had wooden steps leading to the front doors.  The windows had pictures of flowers and butterflies stuck to the them.  A cowbell clanged as they walked inside.  The wood floors shone under the glossy polish and it smelled of lemon dusting spray.  The sun filled the room through large windows in the back.

IN the middle of the room an older lady sat at a desk.  She smiled as they got closer.  Her hair was peppered with gray and pulled back at the sides with clips decorated with daisies.  Glasses hung from a hot pink string around her neck.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you before with any of the school classes.  You’re in the fifth grade?”

Milly’s eyes widened as she nodded.  “I start in two weeks at Rollins Elementary.”

“Oh, great! You’ll love it.  I’m Mrs. Grey.  Welcome!”

“Dean Ashton.  This is my daughter Milly,” Dad shook Mrs. Grey’s hand.

“I want a library card,” Milly said.

“Well, of course you do,” Mrs Grey opened a drawer and produced a mint green card.  Her pen had a yellow fuzzy head on top.  “Now let’s see, name, grade, um address?”

“Oh, um, 526 Brooklyn Drive,” Dad told her.  “Milly you can tell her anything else.  I’m going to go see the sailing books.”

Mrs. Grey directed him to the non-fiction hobbies section.

“Now, we can really get to know each other,” she winked at Milly.  “What’s your favorite color?”

“Purple.”

“Good choice.  Now what’s your favorite game to play with your mother?”

Milly’s face grew very warm and tears welled up faster than she could take in a breath.  She saw Mrs. Grey’s brow crease with concern before she pulled a strand of hair into her mouth.  Mrs. Grey reached across the desk and caught Milly’s hand.  She squeezed it and waited for Milly to say something.

“Our favorite game was to imagine what the clouds looked like.  We used to play it in the car or just go outside and lay on the ground,” Milly swallowed.  “But she died in a car accident in May.”

“Oh, child, I’m so sorry.  It must be very hard.” Mrs. Grey paused.  “I lost my mother three years ago.”  She patted Milly’s hand.  “So, you must like to read.  This must be the first place you’ve come since getting here.”

Milly shook her head.  “I went to the drug store with my brother the other day.  Dad says the have real fountain drinks, but we just got the regular kind.  Reading is my favorite thing to do though,” she gushed.

Mrs. Grey laughed.  “Yes, they do have fountain drinks and ice cream floats.  You’ll have to try them some time.  What’s the last book you read?”

Charlotte’s Web.  It was great.  But I felt bad for Wilbur when Charlotte died.  Of course, she did leave all her babies and three stayed with him, so that was good.”

“It’s one of my favorites, too.” Mrs. Grey got up from the desk and put her arm around Milly’s shoulder.  “Let me show you where you can find the books you’ll be interested in.”

She led Milly to a back corner.  A large window looked out over old railroad tracks.  There were cushions piled up under the window and low shelves surrounding the corner, making into a type of room.

“The library used to be a train depot.  But no trains come through anymore.  I think it makes a perfect library,” Mrs. Grey explained.  “Especially for the children.  They get to imagine inside Rollins’ history.”

She stopped beside a blue bookshelf.

“These books are probably about your level.  You might want to read Missing May or Dicey’s Song. If you like Charlotte’s Web you should read others by E. B. White.  He wrote Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan.  You just take your time.”

“I’ve never heard of any of those.  What are they about?”

“Well,” Mrs. Grey started, “Missing May is a beautiful book about a girl and her uncle saying good-bye to someone very special.  Stuart Little is a mouse’s adventures. But Stuart is no ordinary mouse.  The other two are about overcoming fears and problems.  When you’ve picked something we’ll go check on your dad and see how he’s doing with those sailing books.  Maybe you’d both like a snack too.”

Milly raised her eyebrows.  Food in a library? She’d never heard anything like it.  She picked Dicey’s Song and a book about ballet then they found Dad in an easy chair on the other side of the hobbies section.  He was reading a book about building decks.

“I thought maybe we could expand the deck in the back yard.  It would be perfect for cook outs if it was a bit bigger.”

“The Kelley’s always talked about doing that but never got around to it.  Good people, always making plans,” Mrs. Grey smiled.  “Milly and I thought you might join us for a snack.”

“I’d love to!”

“The old depot used to have a little diner bar.  When we converted the building we turned the area into a small kitchen so we could have treats for the kids on special occasions.  Plus a lot of town meetings are held here, so it works out well.”

“This is the neatest library I’ve ever been in,” Milly said in awe.  “It doesn’t even matter that it’s smaller than Elkton’s.  They didn’t have lots of windows and a kitchen.”

Mrs. Grey took them to the kitchen and poured some grape Kool-Aid and got some fudge-striped cookies from the cabinet.

“So, Mr. Ashton, what will you be doing here in Rollins?” she asked.

“Oh,” Dad started, brushing crumbs from the corner of his mouth.  “I’m the new principal at Rollins High School.  I’ll be starting work in a few days.  Long before Milly has to be back in class.” He tugged her hair.

Milly nibbled slowly around the edges of her cookie and brushed his arm away.

“It’s so nice to meet you! I know you’ll do great things for our high school.”

“Thank you.  I’m looking forward to the new challenge.  I only wish,” he paused, glancing at Milly uncertainly.

“Milly told me that you’ve had a terrible loss recently.  I imagine it’s going to be hard to start new right now.”

Dad only nodded and looked gratefully at Mrs. Grey.  Milly folded the corners of her napkin over and over until she could hold the napkin in her hand without it being seen.

“She also mentioned a brother?”

“Yes, Daryl.  He’s thirteen and as Milly says ‘thinks he’s somebody’. He’s playing baseball with some neighborhood kids.  LIkes to be outdoors, play video games.  Not like Milly who reads everything she gets her hands on.” Dad smiled. “You have to be grateful for the differences in your kids.  Keeps life interesting.”

They all finished their cookies and headed back to the desk.  While Milly filled out the check out cards for her books and the bell clanged behind her.  Mrs. Grey looked up to greet the newcomer.

“Why, hello, Peggy.”

“Hi, Mrs. Grey.  I brought back my books.  Dad sent his, too,” said a red haired girl.

“Thank you.  Peggy, I’d like you to meet Milly Ashton.  She’ll be in your grade when school starts.”

The girls smiled at each other.

“Where do you live?” Peggy asked.

“On Brooklyn Drive.  We just moved here a few days ago.”

“Neat.  I live on Liberty Place.  It’s two streets over from Brooklyn.  I got to go now.  My mom’s waiting in the car.  I’ll see you later.”

Milly watched her leave and then said good-bye to Mrs. Grey.  “Thank you for the cookies and drink.”

“My pleasure.  I hope you enjoy the books.  You come back in any time you want, even if you just want to sit in the window.” She shook Dad’s hand again and patted it with her other hand.

Milly went to the horse swing when they got home and started reading Dicey’s Song, but she couldn’t concentrate.  She went upstairs and got her diary.

      Today, I got my library card.  The librarian, Mrs. Grey, is very nice. I told her about Mom.  I’ve never told anyone before, but I thought it’d be OK with her.  She didn’t make me talk about my feelings or anything like that.  She told me about her mom.  I also met a girl named Peggy who might be in my class.  She seemed OK.  She had really red hair.  It was neat.  I think I can go read my new book now.  Mrs. Grey suggested it.

 

 

 

Advertisements