Miss Adderstone glared at Molly with her dull, black eyes. Her face heaved in a monstrous way as her tongue dislodged her teeth and moved them around in her mouth before settling them back down on her gums. She thrust the toothbrush at Molly.
"This week you will be toilet monitor. I want the toilets spotless, Molly, and this is the brush you'll be using. And don't think you can get away with using the toilet brush, because I'll be watching you."
Miss Adderstone gave one last, satisfied suck on her teeth and left the room. Molly slumped down onto the side of the bath. So the something that she'd felt was going to happen tonight was simply trouble. She stared at her toothbrush, hoping that her friend Rocky would let her share his.
As she picked at a loose thread on her balding old towel, she wondered what it would be like to be wrapped up in a fluffy white towel like the ones in TV ads.
Softness is the sign,
Everyone feels fine,
Wash your towels in . . .
Molly loved ads. They showed how comfortable and happy life could be -- filled with friends -- friends who were always happy to see Molly when she visited them in her mind.
Wrap yourself in luxury time
Molly was shaken from her towel daydream as the evening assembly bell rang. Molly winced. She was late, as always. Always late, forever in trouble. The other kids called Molly 'Accident Zone,' or 'Zono,' because she was so clumsy and accident-prone. Her other nicknames were 'Drono', since people said Molly's voice made them want to fall asleep and 'Bogey Eyes,' because her eyes were dark green and close together. Only Rocky, her best friend, and some of the younger orphans called her Molly.
Molly put her pajamas on quickly and opened the bathroom door. Across the corridor, which was now full of children stampeding downstairs, Molly saw Rocky's dark-brown face, framed with black curls, beckoning her to hurry. As she crossed the corridor, two older boys, Roger Fibbin and Gordon Boils, pushed her roughly aside.
"Get out of the way, Zono."
"Move it, Drono."
"Quick, Molly!" said Rocky. "We can't be late again! Adderstone will have a fit. . . . Mind you, then," he added, "she might choke on her false teeth." Molly smiled. Rocky always knew how to cheer her up. He knew her so well.
Both Molly and Rocky had arrived at Hardwick House ten summers ago. A white baby and a black baby.
Molly had been found in a cardboard box on the doorstep, while Rocky had been found in a baby carriage in the parking garage behind Briersville police station.
Miss Adderstone didn't like children. And of all children, she didn't like babies most. To her, they were noisy, smelly, squelchy creatures, and the idea of changing a diaper filled her with disgust. So Mrs. Trinklebury, a widow from the town, had been employed to look after Molly and Rocky. And because Mrs. Trinklebury named children after the clothes or the carriers they arrived in -- like Moses Wicker, who'd been found in a basket, or Satin Knight, who'd come dressed in a nightie with satin ribbons -- Molly and Rocky were given exotic names too.
Molly's surname, Moon, had come from 'Moon's Marshmallows,' which had been printed in pink and green on the sides of her cardboard box cradle. When Mrs. Trinklebury found a lolly stick in the box, she called the baby Lolly Moon. And after Miss Adderstone forbade Lolly as a name, Lolly Moon became Molly Moon.
Rocky's name came directly from his red baby carriage. On its hood had been written 'The Scarlet Rocker', and so the baby boy had become Rocky Scarlet.
Mrs. Trinklebury wasn't very clever, but her sweet center made up for her simple nature. And it was very lucky that she had taken care of Molly and Rocky when they were little, because with only bitter Miss Adderstone in charge, they might have grown up thinking the whole world was bad and have turned bad themselves. Instead, they were bounced on fat Mrs. Trinklebury's knee, and they fell asleep to her singing. She made them laugh and wiped their eyes when they cried. And at night, if they ever asked why they had been doorstep babies, she told them that they were orphans because a naughty cuckoo had knocked them out of their nests. Then she'd sing them a mysterious lullaby. It went like this.
"Forgive, little birds, that brown cuckoo
Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism Copyright © 2002 by Georgia Byng HarperCollins Publishers
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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