Facts and Fictions of Minna Prattby Patricia MacLachlan
Minna wishes for many things. She wishes she understood the quote taped above her mother's typewriter:Fact and fiction are different truths. She wishes her mother would stop writing long enough to really listen to her. She wishes her house were peaceful and orderly like her friend Lucas's. Most of all, she wishes she could find a vibrato on her/em>… See more details below
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Minna wishes for many things. She wishes she understood the quote taped above her mother's typewriter:Fact and fiction are different truths. She wishes her mother would stop writing long enough to really listen to her. She wishes her house were peaceful and orderly like her friend Lucas's. Most of all, she wishes she could find a vibrato on her cello and play Mozart the way he deserves to be played.
Minna soon discovers that some things can't be found-they just have to happen. And as she waits for her vibrato to happen, Minna begins to understand some facts and fictions about herself.
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Melinda Pratt rides city bus number twelve to her cello lesson, wearing her mother's jean jacket and only one sock. Hallo, world, says Minna. Minna often addresses the world, sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. Bus number twelve is her favorite place for watching, inside and out. The bus passes cars and bicycles and people walking dogs. It passes store windows, and every so often Minna sees her face reflection, two dark eyes in a face as pale as a winter dawn. There are fourteen people on the bus today. Minna stands up to count them. She likes to count people, telephone poles, hats, umbrellas, and, lately, earrings. One girl, sitting directly in front of Minna, has seven earrings, five in one ear. She has wisps of dyed green hair that lie like forsythia buds against her neck.
There are, Minna knows, a king, a past president of the United States, and a beauty queen on the bus. Minna can tell by looking. The king yawns and scratches his ear with his little finger. Scratches, not picks. The beauty queen sleeps, her mouth open, her hair the color of tomatoes not yet ripe. The past president of the United States reads Teen Love and Body Builder's Annual.
Next to Minna, leaning against the seat, is her cello in its zippered canvas case. Next to her cello is her younger brother, McGrew,- who is humming. McGrew always hums. Sometimes he hums sentences, though most often it comes out like singing. McGrew's teachers do not enjoy McGrew answering questions in hums or song. Neither does the school principal, Mr. Ripley. McGrew spends lots of time sitting on the bench outside Mr. Ripley's office, humming.
Today McGrew is humming the newspaper.First the headlines, then the sports section, then the comics. McGrew only laughs at the headlines.
Minna smiles at her brother. He is small and stocky and compact like a suitcase. Minna loves him. McGrew always tells the truth, even when he shouldn't. He is kind. And he lends Minna money from the coffee jar he keeps beneath his mattress.
Minna looks out the bus window and thinks about her life. Her one life. She likes artichokes and blue fingernail polish and Mozart played too fast. She loves baseball, and the month of March because no one else much likes March, and every shade of brown she has ever seen. But this is only one life. Someday, she knows, she will have another life. A different one. A better one. McGrew knows this, too. McGrew is ten years old. He knows nearly everything. He knows, for instance, that his older sister, Minna Pratt, age eleven, is sitting patiently next to her cello waiting to be a woman.
"Unclothed Woman Flees from Standard Poodle," sang McGrew, reading the headlines. "Boa Constrictor Lives in Nun's Sewing Basket. Sit down, Minna Pratt," he sang on.
"Hush up, McGrew," said Minna. "A mysterious woman just got on the bus. Number fifteen."
"Mysterious how?" sang McGrew, ending on a high note just above his range.
"A fur cape, gray braids, one earring," said Minna. "That makes seventeen earrings total on this bus. "
"Emily Parmalee just got her ears pierced," said McGrew in his speaking voice. "She's meeting us at the bus stop."
Minna snorted, but not unkindly. Emily Parmalee was the catcher on McGrew's baseball team. She was, like McGrew, small and squat, with an odd sense of humor. Often she caused Minna to laugh so hard that she had to lie down on sidewalks or crouch in soda shops. Minna smiled, thinking enviously of Emily Parmalee, rushing toward womanhood faster than Minna, her ears already past puberty.
The bus jolted to a stop and Minna leaned herhead against the window and thought about herlesson. Minna never practiced, except for the shorttimes when everyone was out of the house. Whenno one was there, she could play bad notes withoutanyone calling out or McGrew humming them intune as a guide. Minna never needed to practice,really. She could, in the presence of her cello teacher,Mr. Porch, summon up the most glorious notes;pure, in fact, surprising even Minna. She playedbeautifully for Mr. Porch, mostly because she wantedto make him smile, as somber as he sometimes was.Also, she felt sorry about his name. Porch. Ve-randah might have been better. Or even Stoop.Porch was a dismal name. For a sometimes dismalman. McGrew called him Old Back.
Someone pulled the bell cord and it was their stop. McGrew folded his newspaper under his arm, reaching over to the seat across the aisle to snatch The Inquirer, forbidden at home even though it had the best headlines. Minna propped her cello on her hip and pushed through the crowd.
"Pardon. I'm sorry. Excuse."
The beauty queen woke up, closing her mouth and gathering packages. The past president of the United States put Teen Love and Body Builder's Annual carefully between the pages of his Atlantic Monthly. The king scratched on.
Emily Parmalee was at the bus stop with the shirt of her long underwear worn on the outside and brand-new holes in her ears.
They always greeted each other as if they had been lost on the prairie, smiles and exclamation points. A matched pair of luggage, thought Minna.
"Hallo, Emily," said Minna. "I like your ears."
Emily Parmalee grinned.
"I'll have feathers within the month, " she said matter-of-factly.
Minna pulled her cello up the steps to the conservatory. The sky was gray, with low clouds, like in an old painting.
"I'll be forty-five minutes today, an hour at the most," Minna called.
"That's all Old Back can take," said McGrew, sitting down and taking a very black banana out of his jacket pocket.The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt. Copyright © by Patricia MacLachlan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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