Excerpt of Savvy by Ingrid Law
(Page 3 of 3)
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We were all smiling to each other around the kitchen
table at the smart way wed taken care of those beans
when Momma dropped the phone with a rattling clatter
and a single sobperfectly devastated. She sank to the
floor, looking for all the world as if she were staring
right through the checkered brown and blue linoleum
to behold the burning hot-lava core at the very center
of the Earth.
Its Poppa, Momma said in a choked voice, as her
perfect features stretched and pinched.
A gust of wind burst from fishs side of the table,
blowing everyones hair and sending our paper napkins
flying pell-mell onto the floor. The air in the room grew
warm and humid as though the house itself had broken
out into a ripe, nervous sweat, and the many dusty,
tightly lidded, empty-looking jars that lined the tops of all
the cupboards rattled and clinked like a hundred toasting
glasses. Outside it was already raining fish raindrops
hastened from a sprinkle to a downpour in seconds as
fish stared, wide-eyed and gaping like his namesake,
holding back his fear but unable to scumble his savvy.
Momma? Rocket ventured. The air around him
crackled with static, and his T-shirt clung to him like
socks to towels straight from the dryer. The lights in the
house pulsed, and blue sparks popped and snapped at
the tips of his nervous, twitching fingers.
Momma looked at Poppas empty chair and waiting
plate, then she turned to us, chin trembling, and told
us about the accident on the highway. She told us how
Poppas car had gotten crushed up bad, like a pop can
under a cowboy boot, and how hed gone and forgotten
to get out before it happened, landing himself in a room
and a bed at Salina Hope Hospital, where now he lay
broken and asleep, not able to wake up.
Dont fret, child, Grandpa consoled Momma as
though they were back in time and Momma was still
a young girl sitting on his knee crying over a broken
doll. Those doctors know whats what. Theyll fix your
fellow up in no time. Theyll get his buttons sewn back
on. Grandpa Bombas tone was soft and reassuring. But
as the strobe-like flashes from Rockets nervous sparks
lit Grandpas face, I could see the worry etched deep
into all his wrinkles.
For half of a half of a half of a second I hated Poppa.
I hated him for working so far away from home and
for having to take the highway every day. I hated him
for getting in that accident and for ruining our pot
roast. Mostly, I realized that my perfect cake with its
pink and yellow frosting was probably not going to
get made, and I hated Poppa for wrecking my most
important birthday before it had even arrived. Then I
felt the burning shame of even having those thoughts
about my good, sweet poppa and sank low in my chair.
To make amends for my selfish feelings, I sat quietly
and ate every last unwelcome green bean from beneath
my mashed potatoes, as fishs rain lashed against the
windows and Rocket caused every lightbulb in the house
to explode with a live-wire zing and a popping shatter,
sending shards of glass tinkling to the floor and pitching
the house into darkness.
Excerpted from Savvy
by Ingrid Law. Copyright © 2006 by Ingrid Law. Excerpted by
permission of Penguin Group USA. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.