Extra Short Story: The Growing Season

After a good rainstorm, Alisha loved to go out and tour from puddle to puddle in her bare feet, feeling warm water and cool mud squashing around her toes as she splashed the water here and there.  The humid air of a summer storm hanging around her, the heat clinging to the day like a comforting hug.  Alisha sometimes just sat at the edge of really big puddles and hung her feet in them, poking one foot then the other out of the water, all brown and dirty with mud.

After a June full of rain, the grass and dirt were almost always soaked, so Alisha was sitting on a concrete curb and letting warm gutter runoff sluice over her feet when her daddy came home from work that night.

“Alisha, is your mom in the house?” Daddy asked.

“No Daddy, she is over at Mrs. John’s house” Alisha returned, “she went there before the rain.  Did you see the big storm Daddy?  Did you see all the lightening?”  Alisha ran over to her Daddy’s car door and met him with a hug around the waist.

“Yeah, I was in the office when it was raining, it sounded like a hundred drummers were practicing on the roof!” Daddy said, he gathered his bag and coat from the car and went inside the house.  Alisha followed behind, wiping her feet on the grass as she went.

Daddy dropped his bags by the front door and hung up his coat, pulling a large brown envelope from the inside pocket and walking into the living room.  Alisha had already taken his favorite easy chair and had turned on the TV.  A newscaster looked out from the screen, reading from paper:

“…another record rainstorm in the lower part of the province, over 5 centimeters of rain in just under 2 hours…Spongebob, get out of my bedroom”  Alisha had switched the channel.

Daddy snatched the remote from Alisha and switched back to the newscaster.

“Daaaaddy!” Alisha yelped, “I wanted to watch Spongebob!”

“Alisha, honey, go get your Mom and ask her to come home as soon as possible” Daddy sat in his chair as Alisha got up and sloped out of the room, looking over her shoulder at the TV.  The newscaster was still reading from the paper:

“…fears among local farmers that the growing season will be completely ruined by further rain…”

Alisha hummed the Spongebob song as she wandered towards Mrs. John’s house accross the street, splashing in as many puddles as she could along the way, making careful effort to keep her shorts dry as she did.

Alisha knew she could just walk in to Mrs. John’s house, but didn’t feel right doing it.  Alisha knocked on the screen door and called through it, “Moooom, Daddy says you gotta come home right now!”  Alisha’s Mother came down the stairs to the landing and paused.

“Bye Glady’s, Jerry’s home!” she waved up the stairs to Mrs. John.  Galdys John was a childless widow of some 16 years, longer than Alisha’s Parent’s lived on the street, but Alisha’s Mommy had taken up with Mrs. John as a sort of surrogate daughter, visiting with her and taking care of her.  Alisha liked Mrs. John, but wasn’t as comfortable or close with her as her Mommy.

“Alisha, you should come in and say hi to Mrs. John when you come by, I know she likes to see you” Mommy said.

Alisha didn’t say anything, she just splashed from gutter to gutter, and ran ahead into the house.

“Mommy’s here, Daddy” Alisha yelled when she came into the house.

Daddy got out of his chair and met Mommy as she came into the house, giving her a big hug and then taking her into the kitchen at the back of the house.  Daddy closed the door and Alisha could hear them talking about something, loudly.

Alisha switched the TV back to cartoons and watched the last few minutes of Spongebob before MegaMonkey came on.  MegaMonkey was Alisha’s favourite show because they told you how to make stuff out of garbage and old bottles and things.  Alisha turned up the volume during the theme song:

“Mega, Mega, Mega Monkey May-hem.

Mega, Mega, Mega Monkey Fakes them,

Mega, Mega, Mega Monkey Makes them go, home, quick!

Mega, Mega, Mega Monkey Builds Stuff!

Mega, Mega, Mega Monkey Fixes Stuff too!

Wouldn’t you like to be a Mega Monkey Too?”

Alisha always yelled the last part, since she really wanted to be a Money too.

“Alisha!  Can you keep it down a bit?” Daddy yelled from the kitchen.

“Yes Daddy!” Alisha yelled over her shoulder, intent on the Mega Monkey show.

The Mega Monkey was trying to grow a new kind of Banana on Monkey Island, but his field kept on getting washed out by flood when it rained.  Mega Monkey built a big dome for his field that he could open and close when he wanted.  At the end of the show, they showed you how to make a little dome of your own out of a pop bottle and some dirt.  You just poured some dirt and a seeds into a  cleaned out bottle and added water when it looked dry.  The bottle was a “little green house”.

Alisha ran into the kitchen, Mommy looked sad.

“Mommy, I need a big pop bottle to make a green house”

Mommy looked in the recycling and pulled out a cleaned out cola bottle and handed it to Alisa.

“Thanks Mommy!” Alisha called over her shoulder as she bounced into the back yard to find the right dirt to plant in.

Daddy followed Alisha out into the Yard and stood on the deck, staring out over the farmer fields on the other side of the highway.  It was warm and humid, even as evening set in.  The rain did nothing to relieve the heat and moisture that had hung over the town since late May.  Daddy watched Alisha search around the Yard, with some interest.

“Alisha, what are you looking for?”

“I’m looking for the dirt with white stuff in it, like Mega Monkey had”

“Dirt with white stuff in it?  You mean potting earth?”

“No Daddy, I want to plant flowers, not pots!”

“Alisha, we can go to the store for what you need, we’ll get seeds there too!”

“Yay!” Alisha ran up to Daddy and grabbed his hands with dirty fingers.  “Let’s Go!”

Daddy led Alisha to the kitchen and washed their hands.  Daddy, Mommy and Alisha went to the store and on teh way Mommy and Daddy talked about food prices and rain and weather.  Alisha wasn’t very interested in that stuff, all she wanted to talk about was her new greenhouse and how she would plant peas and potatoes in it.   Mommy carefully explained that Alisha couldn’t grow vegetables in the bottle, because it was too small.

“Can I get a bigger bottle then?” Alisha asked as they walked into the store.

“Maybe honey,” Mommy replied, “but I think you should try growing a flower or two before you get to vegetables”

Alisha looked at all the seeds with Mommy while Daddy went and got the special dirt for her greenhouse.  Alisha chose a purple flower that said African on it.  Mommy thought it was going to be a pretty flower and Daddy took it all to the lady at the counter and paid for it all.

Daddy carried the dirt home and Alisha carried her seeds, splashing in the puddles but keeping care to keep the seeds dry until it was time to plant them.

Daddy cooked supper in the Kitchen, Mommy helped Alisha put the dirt in the bottle and mixed in some seeds with it as it was poured in.  Alisha added the water and put the bottle out on the deck, she stared at the dirt willing the seeds to sprout before dinner time.

Dinner time came and went and the seeds didn’t sprout.  At eight o’clock Daddy and Mommy put Alisha to bed and Mommy read her a story from the Mega Monkey storybook Alisha had got from the Library the day before.

“… and when the Rubbish was piled higher than the house, the Mega Monkey sorted it out and put the useful rubbish in one pile and the recycling in another. ” Mommy read until Alisha fell asleep, kissed her on the forehead and went back into the living room to sit with Daddy.

Alisha dreamed about dirt and rain that night.  She had wanted to dream about her new flower, but only dreamed about getting dirty and wet.

When Alisha woke up, it was rainy and grey outside, but still warm and humid.  Alisha went downstairs and got her cereal out and ate a bowl before going into the living room and watching cartoons.  Her Daddy had already left for work and Alisha was pretty sure she heard her Mommy in the basement, doing laundry.

“Mommy?” Alisha Called, looking for reassurance, “Mooooommmmmmy!”

“Alisha, what is it?” Mommy called from the basement, “do you need something?”

“No Mommy, just checking where you were!” Alisha yelled back.

“Okay honey, just come down if you need anything.” Mommy called.

Alisha set about studying the morning kids shows for anything about green houses or purple african flowers, but she couldn’t see anything about them.  So Alisha went out back and stared at her bottle for a while, hoping she’d see a little shoot from her flower.  Seeing nothing, she gave up and went looking for puddles to play in until lunch.

So the days went by, Mommy and Daddy talking more and more about food prices and rain, Alisha playing in the puddles and waiting for her flower to grow.  After a couple of weeks, with no flowers Alisha had almost forgotten what was supposed to be growing in the bottle when a green shoot had suddenly burst out of the dirt overnight, surrounded by friends.

Alisha ran back into the house and called for her Mommy to come see the flowers that were growing in her bottle.  Mommy came out to the Yard and looked at the thin green shoots and nodded appreciativley.

“Well, Alisha, it looks like your flowers are coming, did you remember to water them a bit?”

Alisha nodded and showed how wet the dirt was.

Mommy made a special salad lunch that day and Alisha took her little greenhouse over to Mrs. John to show it off.

“That’s lovely Alisha, what kind of flowers are you growing?” Mrs. John asked.

“Purple African flowers Mrs. John” Alisa smiled at her bottle, “I’m gonna grow potatoes next!”

Mrs. John smiled at Alisha and patted her on the arm.  Mommy and Mrs. John chatted about the rain and how Daddy was worried about how much more rain there would be.  Alisha excused herself and took her bottle home to the front step.  The street was full of warm wet puddles that needed to be splashed in.

When Daddy got home that night he had another envelope in his pocket and this time both Daddy and Mommy were looking worried, they took Alisha into the kitchen and sat her down.

“Alisha honey, we’re going to have to turn off the cable for the TV for a little while” Mommy said.  “We’ll still have the DVDs and tapes of your shows, so you won’t miss them, but you won’t have the cartoon channels any more”

“Oh, okay Mommy” Alisha didn’t watch TV that much. “Can I still watch Mega Monkey?”

“No honey, not on regular TV, that channel is on cable”  Daddy said.

“Why can’t I watch Mega Monkey?” Alsiah said, becoming upset, “was I bad?”

“No Honey, you weren’t bad, Mommy and Daddy have to make some changes and one of those is that we can’t pay for some things anymore”

“Daddy can just work more!” Alisha was crying, she didn’t want to stop watching Mega Monkey

Daddy and Mommy hugged Alisha close and told her that they would try and make sure that she got to see Mega Monkey and that they loved her very much and that she wasn’t in trouble at all.  Alisha cried a bit more, until her face was red and she had a bit of snot dribbling from her nose, but eventually she understood that she wasn’t being punished and that Mega Monkey would be back soon.

After another beans and rice for dinner, Alisha went out front and sat on the curb until dark, splashing her feet in the puddles in the gutter.  Mrs. John came over from her house and sat down next to Alisha and began to dip her shoes in the puddles.

“Mrs. john, you’re gonna get your shoes all wet!” Alisha laughed.

“Oh, it’s okay, they are old shoes anyway.”

Mrs. John relaxed her feet into the puddle and let them soak up the warm water.  Alisha laughed at this and poked her toes in and out of the water, making little waves that lapped around Mrs. John’s feet. Mrs. John smiled at this and watched the sun set over her house, a dry night for once.

Mommy and Daddy had come out and were sitting on the front step, Daddy was looking at Alisha’s greenhouse.

“Alisha, your flowers are growing!” Daddy called.

“I know Daddy” Alisha called over her shoulder, kind of annoyed that Daddy hadn’t already noticed.

Daddy took the greenhouse inside the house.  After he came out he said to Alisha that he would need her help buildling a big greenhouse that weekend.  Alisha hopped up from the puddle and ran over to her Daddy, wrapping her arms around his waist and hugging him tight.

“Oh Daddy! Can we grow flowers and potatoes and things in it?” Alisha asked.

“Yeah, we’ll grow some vegetables and flowers in it.”

Alisha whopped with joy and ran over to tell Mrs. John about her new greenhouse, Mrs. John just smiled and listened while Alisha told her about her big plans.

Alisha couldn’t sleep that night, while she thought about her new greenhouse.  She hd almost forgotten about how she couldn’t watch Mega Monkey anymore.

Alisha and her Daddy built the greenhouse that weekend, with some help from Mrs. John’s friend Jasper and Daddys’ friend Steven.  Alisha got to plant some more purple flowers and take her green shoots out of her little greenhouse and plant them in the big one.

Daddy and Mommy were very happy with the new greenhouse, but always seemed to get sad around dinner time.  The next week, there wasn’t any cereal in the Morning, Alisha had to have some toast for breakfast.

Alisha didn’t mind.

Daddy had started riding a bike to work, to save money on gas he said.  He sometimes had to ride in the rain and wore a big yellow rain slicker when he did, but he always got a wet bum from it.

Sometimes Mommy didn’t eat breakfast or lunch with Alisha.

One day, the weeke before the tomatoes in the greenhouse were ripe, Alisha heard Mommy crying about being hungry one morning before Daddy left for work.

Alisha told Mommy that she could have her toast that morning, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Alisha hugged her Mommy and told her that she could sell some toys so they could go to McDonalds for lunch.

Mommy cried a little bit and said that they could go to McDonalds for lunch as a special treat, and that Alisha didn’t have to sell a toy.   Mrs. John came along and even bought Alisha a happy meal.  Alisha went into the play area.  Alisha could see that Mommy was crying a little again and Mrs. John was hugging her around her shoulders.  Alisha came back to the table and hugged Mommy too.

“What’s wrong Mommy?” Alisha asked.

“I’m just a little sad, we’ll talk about it tonight when Daddy comes home, okay?” Mommy said, wiping her eyes.

“Alisha, why don’t you show me how high you can climb” Mrs. John said.

Alisha ran back into the play area and climbed to the very top, when she looked down Mrs. John was clapping for her and waving.  Mommy was smiling up at her and took her picture with a little silver camera.

That night when Daddy rode home on his bike, he had a big brown envelope and he looked very unhappy.

“Alisha, Mommy and Daddy have some bad news to share with you.  Daddy’s company has closed down and we are going to have to move soon.”  Daddy said.

“Where are we going to move?” Alisha asked.

“Mommy and Daddy are going to look for a new house this week, but we won’t move soon”

“Is it because of the food, do we have to move because of the food?” Alisha asked, becoming excited.

“Well, that is part of it Honey, everything is so much more expensive out here in the country, my boss says that if I want to keep my job we will have to move into the city”

Alisha thought about this for a bit and said “will they have cereal in the city?”

Mommy hugged Alisha close and kissed the top of her head.  “yes sweetie, they have cereal and Mega Monkey too!”

Alisha was fine with this and excused herself to go out to the yard and the greenhouse.

Her purple flowers were in full bloom.