o 359b4f51a22759c4 (9 page)

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He said he wished he’d been there and wanted me to tell him about it.

“Zeke Blume,” I said, you hate benefits. How come you’re so interested in this

one?“

He hesitated and then said, “Well, you know, because of how Mom got after that run in the rain last year. Remember?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I remember.”

I felt tears gather in my eyes again. I missed Zeke. I wanted to talk to him abut what had happened last night. But he’s my little brother and I also wanted to protect him.

Should I tell him? I didn’t know what to do.

“Maggie,” he said in a scared voice. “Are you there?”

“I’m here.”

“Oh,” he aid with a sigh of relief. “I thought you’d hung up on me.”

If I were Zeke and Zeke were me, would I want him to tell me about Mom? I

knew the answer was yes.

“Well, Mom’s been drinking again, Zeke,” I said.

“That’s what I was afraid of,” he said in a sad voice.”

“I want to come home, Maggie,” he said. “Tell Dad. Tell him he has to let me

come home of else—”

I interrupted him. “Zeke, camp will be over in a week. We’ll all be here when you come home. And the problems will be here too.”

“Problems?” he said. “What else is going on? You mean, like Dad being gone all

the time?”

“Yes. And I sort of have a problem too.”

I realised as I said it that I do have a problem. Not a huge problem. But a problem.

“What kind of problem?” Zeke asked in a small voice.

“An eating problem,” I said. “It’s hard for me to eat after being on a diet. I’m a little confused about food.”

“Do you have that thing where people get really skinny?” he asked. “That ‘ant-or-ex’ thing.”

I didn’t want to say the word out loud. So I didn’t correct Zeke’s pronunciation. I just said, “It’s not a huge problem. Anyway, I just want to say that I miss you, Zeke. And I am glad you’ll be home soon.”

“I shouldn’t have gone to camp,” he said.

I realised that my eleven-year-old brother thought that if he hadn’t gone to camp, he could have kept Mom from being a drunk, Dad from being an absent husband and father, and me from staying on a diet too long.

“Oh, Zeke,” I pleaded, “don’t for even an instant, think you can keep bad things like this from happening. I was here. I couldn’t keep Mom from drinking. We’re not miracle workers. We’re just kids.”

“I guess. But I can help you, Maggie. I know I can.”

“You can help me by staying at camp,” I told him. “And then coming home and

being the great brother you’ve always been.”

“Can I call you ever day until I come home?” he asked.

“Every say,” I said.

I heard reveille being played at the tennis camp. It was the trumped signal to wake up the campers. My brother, who hates to get up in the morning, had snick out of his cabin early to call me.

“You better go,” I said. “Before they think a bear stole you in the night.”

“Okay. I’ll call you tomorrow morning. Same time.”

“Same time,” I agreed.

“And Maggie, I’ll tell you a secret.”

“What?”

Zeke whispered into the receiver. “I sort of like tennis.”

“Thanks for telling me,” I said with a laugh. “How about dancing?”

“Yuck!” e shrieked..

I was smiling through tears when I hung up the phone.

Our family may have a lot of problems. But Zeke isn’t one of them.

BROKEN (WINGS)

How do angels

Know when you need them?

Do they stay and watch your every move

Or are they on call

Did I forget

To call you, angel?

I didn’t know I was in danger

That I was becoming a stranger

To myself

Now you are gone

I hold your broken wing

And wish you could be whole gain

A child’s wish

If I don’t have my angel

Who will save me?

Maggie Blume

I think I’ll work on that poem. I’ll never be a song lyric. Too personal. But it expresses how I feel.

BOOK: o 359b4f51a22759c4
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