Just a little glue. It beads along the fracture and I carefully daub off the excess with a swab, still paying no mind to the yammering of my boy. He’ll probably blubber and crunch up his fists because I won’t listen. The devil could learn about wickedness from that boy. From spite I don’t look at him before I speak.
“Michael, I surely do not care that you’re upset. You’ve got arms, hug yourself.”
I look away from the tea cup to see his furious little eyes. He’s talking in a little-boy growl, like an puppy defending its favorite teat. I have to close my eyes before I can even hear what he’s saying.
“… that you can just turn off when a commercial come on. Listen to me!”‘
At times like this it’s just his mother I see. It reminds me that even in the crib the boy never called like-to-like when I laid eyes on him. My cheeks are going hot, that old trail leads only to hurting.
“Listening don’t work when the traffic goes but one direction, boy. This cup belonged to my grandmother and your rambunction broke it. You ain’t civilized yourself when I asked, so I don’t see why I should listen to your puling.”
“I said I’m hungry and mom won’t make dinner, don’t that matter at all?”
“Have you forgotten where the kitchen is?”
The boy storms out of the room.
I hate the stink of this glue and sure enough, the pad of my thumb is stuck fast. Now the cup has not just a long crack but my dirty thumb to mar it. If mother were alive my hide would be tanned. Between grandma’s cup and the tick of the clock woolgathering offers a siren call but I have not the time to spare.
I put the cup with its sisters on the table, careful to press down the crease in the linen. Father will brook no lax children and I fear that my boy will need to be sent to his room. My fingers tremble, a sure sign that my nerves will betray me. From the cupboard I get my gin — almost gone now — and nurse it down a bit further. Its fire gives way to calm and I say thanks to the good lord for alcohol.
Fifteen minutes yet. Once again I retrieve mother’s will from the safe. I know my hope is vain, but to my thanks for alcohol I add a prayer of hope. I hope I can find the cryptic words that hide my salvation before father is here.