“I know something you don’t know.”
“Don’t listen to her. She doesn’t know anything. She’s a baby.”
“She’s a girl.”
“She doesn’t even go to school yet.”
“I do too know something. You just wait. You’ll be sorry.”
“What do you know then, if you’re so smart.”
“I know… I’m not going to tell you what I know.”
“That’s because you don’t know nothing.”
“I do. I do. I know… something about Aunt Trudy.”
“You’re just saying that. You don’t know anything.”
“When it happens, you’ll see.”
“Tell us, then.”
“It’s a secret.”
“If you don’t tell us, we’ll know you’re lying.”
I had an audience. Finally. The big kids. I couldn’t let them escape. I had to say something.
“Aunt Trudy’s going to have a baby.”
“How do you know?”
“I heard Mom and your mom talking.”
To have them staring at me with admiration, to have them believe. “Aunt Trudy is getting fat.”
But then, to be found out. Two days later at the noon dinner table, my father, his mouth full of mashed potatoes and gravy: “Why are we the last to know?”
“Hmmm?”: my mother, concentrating on catching two rivulets of pablum running down my baby sister’s chin.
“What are you talking about.”
Everybody knows. But me. My kid sister, and I didn’t know.”
“I didn’t know, either. Who told you?”
“Everybody in town. When I stopped for the mail and then again at Olsen’s. Mrs. Olsen asked me if I knew the exact date because she’s crocheted a blanket for every baby born in the district in the last twenty years and she guessed she’d better get cracking. She sounded miffed that she hadn’t been told up to now.”
“For crying out loud. How did something like that get started? Trudy would have told us. Besides, I saw her yesterday and she isn’t having any babies in the near future, I can assure you.”
Mother’s attention must have been caught by my complexion, beet red, a problem that has plagued me even into adult life.
And so it was, that same afternoon, with the dishes washed and the floor swept, my mother with business-like gait, marched me off down the road, my older sister trailing behind and the baby happily jouncing in her carriage, toward Aunt Trudy’s.
That was the longest journey of my life so far.
“Cely wants to tell you something,” I heard my mother say. “Don’t you, Cely?”
I felt a push at my shoulder.
“First, come in. I have something to tell you. Oh, I was going to wait until we were having coffee but I’m too excited. I can’t wait. I’m going to have a baby! Well, Jim and I are. Jim is too, but isn’t it just so wonderful…”
The women’s voices moved off. The front screen slammed shut. My eyes dropped to a sharp crevice in the front step. Every grain in that wood was magnified and pulsating with life. I heard a fly dust off its forelegs. The air smelled sweet, of late summer ripeness. I felt wonder in everything about me. I felt wonder in myself.