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Nine-year-old Amber Brown faces further complications because of her parents' divorce when her father plans to move back from Paris and she must decide which parent she will be with on Thanksgiving.
Amber Brown Is Feeling Blue
"Ta-da, dinner is served." Brenda, my Amber-sitter, comes into the living room. This week her hair is lime green and spiky.
I am lying down on the floor, doing my homework.
Brenda claps her hands. "Tonight I have made an amazing meal. I call it 'Mischief Night Delight.'"
If she thinks that this meal is amazing, that makes me more than a little nervous. Brenda thought it was perfectly normal when she made "Tuna Fish Delight." That had little chunks of celery and marshmallows in it.
I look up at Brenda.
She's wearing shocking-pink tights with a huge T-shirt, one that says PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS. Mom and I gave it to her for her birthday last month.
I, Amber Brown, picked out the T-shirt.
I'm wearing the one my mom bought for me to wear when Brenda comes over to Amber-sit. Mine says NEEDS SUPERVISION.
Sometimes my mom thinks that she's very funny.
I get up, and we go to the kitchen.
Brenda has the table all set. "It's the Mischief Night menu."
I look at the table. In the center, there is chili made with ground meat. In the middle of the meat, on top, she has placed two gumballs, which look like eyes.
Avocado halves are filled with green Jell-O.
She's even used the plastic pumpkin that my mom will fill tomorrow with the candy that we're giving out for Halloween. It's filled with cauliflower.
"It looks like the pumpkin's brains. Isn't that cool?" Brenda looks pleased with herself.
The cauliflower is steaming and looks very squishy, and there's tomato sauce poured over it to look like blood.
"Yum," Brenda says.
I just look at it.
"Yum," Brenda repeats.
Brenda pretends to read from a menu, even though it is actually a serving spoon. "What would you like to order from our liquid list? Our milk is very good this year."
Whenever I see someone in a movie ordering wine, the waiter always says things like, "This is a very good year."
Somehow I don't think old milk would be too delicious.
"Actually, the milk is a very good week...this one," Brenda says.
"Fine." I look at the meal. "Then I will have a glass of milk. Which milk, do you think, goes better with this food? Chocolate? Vanilla?"
"Might I suggest the strawberry? It would look good with the orange of the pumpkin, the brown of the meat, the red of the pumpkin blood," Brenda says, going over to the blender and putting in some milk and some strawberries.
We sit down to eat.
I stare at the meal, but don't eat anything.
"It won't kill you. I promise." Brenda starts eating. "Yum."
Brenda said "Yum" the time she ate the tuna-and-marshmallow meal. THAT was definitely not a "Yum" meal.
I take a tiny taste of each thing.
It is an amazing meal. What is amazing is that it tastes good.
"So, what are you going to wear tomorrow for Halloween?" I ask.
Brenda smiles. "For Halloween, I'm going to dress 'normal.' I'm going to wear a wig that is normal color and has a normal boring cut. And I'm going to wear one of my older sister's normal dresses and a pair of heels. That will be my costume."
I tell her what I'm going to wear even though I'm keeping it a secret from everyone else. No one else will know until tomorrow.
"So," she says, changing the subject, "when is your dad moving back here from Paris?"
"In just two weeks." I clap my hands. "I can't wait."
Brenda grins at me. "You are so excited. Tell me about your dad." Because Brenda became my Amber-sitter after my parents divorced, after my dad moved to Paris, she's never met him.
I describe my dad. "He's not real skinny. He's not real fat.... He's got a real nice smile when he's happy.... Sometimes he tells very corny jokes.... He's losing his hair.... only when I tell him that he says that it's not lost, that it's just flown off in a hairplane."
Brenda smiles. "He sounds funny."
I nod. "He is...or, he was. I've only seen him twice since he moved to Paris...once in England...and a couple of weeks ago, when he came back to see about his new job...and to see ME. But we talk on the phone all the time, and he says that when he moves back, he's going to spend a lot of time with me...he's going to take me on trips, to the movies, to lots of places...and when he gets an apartment, it's going to have two bedrooms so that I will always have a place to stay with him. And I can pick all new furniture and decorate it the way I want."
"Cool." Brenda takes a sip of her strawberry milk. "You're lucky."
I look at Brenda and think about how she has no father because he was killed in a car crash almost a year ago, before I knew her.
She looks sad.
I reach over and pat her on her hand. "When dad moves back, I'm going to ask him if you can do some stuff with us...not as my Amber-sitter, but as my friend."
Brenda puts her hand on top of mine. "If I had a sister, I'd want her to be just like you."
"Me too," I say. "If I had a sister, I'd want her to be just like you."
I pat her hand again and then stand up. "I've got to get something. I'll be right back."
Running up the stairs to my room, I open my closet door, and take a box off the top shelf.
I haven't shown it to anyone else yet. It's like it was my own little secret, my own little private special thing.
There's no way I can show it to Max, the guy my mom is going to marry.
I don't think he's going to like it either. I think he's gotten used to being the only grown-up guy in my everyday life.
Rushing down the steps with it, I put the box on the table, and open it up.
Inside it's the "Countdown to Dad" book, which I got in the mail last week.
My dad made it for me.
It's made out of construction paper and has four pages.
The first is the cover. On it, he's written "Countdown to Dad" and drawn lots of hearts.
The other three pages are made up to look like a weekly calendar, with numbered squares. The numbers go from twenty-one to zero. In each square is a picture of Dad and me. There's also a tiny box where I can check off each day when it's over. The first photo is of the day when he and Mom brought me home from the hospital when I was a baby. Mom took that picture (and most of the others). The rest of the pictures also show Dad and me together. As the countdown goes on, I get older and Dad gets balder. The next-to-last picture is labeled "One more day until I'm back and can hug my little girl." It's a picture that Aunt Pam took of my dad and me when we were in London. I have chicken pox scabs on my face. The last picture is one that Brandi took of my dad and me at the bowling alley, when he was here to visit and work out moving back.
On the "Zero Square," he's written "Reunion" and he's drawn more hearts.
Only fourteen more days to check off...I can't wait.
Posted January 10, 2011
ambers parents are divorced. ambers dad is comiing
over for thanksgiving. amber needs to decide who to stay whit. she chooses her dad.
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Posted July 12, 2010
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