We sat around the kitchen table painting little metal miniatures.
The screen door opened and closed, distracting me from work at hand. Host turned around and said “Hello.” He looked back to me to explain, “This is our friend, Mary,” as a little girl looking about 9 came in the door.
“Are you still in Girl Scouts,” asked Host.
“No; I’m getting ready for school coming up soon,” was the lisped reply. I didn’t know the two were mutually exclusive. Live and learn.
“What grade are you going into?”
“Sixth.” I was shocked. I had to up my approximation of her age to at least 11. When I was in sixth grade, the girls were…bigger.
“Wow! Sixth! So, what have you been up to lately?” Host kept going. He’s a great host, I had to give him that, whether the guests were invited or not.
“I was at camp, but I feel off the horse.” I hoped it was really a pony and low to the ground. The girl was thin and not very tall. “And, I split open my knee. Twice.”
“Same knee,” I asked, interested.
“Yes.” Of course. She used the singular, “knee,” not “knees.” She went back to the porch after the cats.
“Is she missing some teeth,” I wondered. I wasn’t sure sixth graders had missing teeth and wondered what caused the lisp.
“No, she always talks like that. I’m not sure why.” He turned to the porch. “Be careful of the cat. She doesn’t really like anyone in her face.”
“OK.” This was followed a couple minutes later by a hiss, and the little girl came back into the kitchen. She stood there watching for a little while before asking, “do you have a Band-Aid?” Host asked to see the wound. It was 3-4 inches long along her arm, red, and deep. She hadn’t said a word. From what I had heard so far, she was used to getting injured.
“And some antibiotic ointment,” I suggested, looking at the scratch. The last thing these kind people needed was this little girl getting an infection from their cat’s scratch. They came out of the bathroom a few minutes later with two big bandages on her arm. It looked like she was wearing a large, tan armguard. “That is stylish,” I offered. “Everyone at school will be wearing them soon.” I didn’t think she should think about taking them off. From what I could tell, she might want protection over her entire body.
Quickly forgetting the scratch, she wanted to tell us about her newest pets. “I have two mice. Want to see them?” Her enthusiasm couldn’t be dampened. She ran home to get the cage. Mrs. Host didn’t look excited for the prospective visit.
The little girl turned with two mice in a cage, eagerly sharing the names. She wanted to take them out so we could hold them, but the idea was emphatically shot down. We didn’t want mice loose with cats around was the reason given.
“Which one is Domino,” Host asked out of politeness. She opened the cage and reached in to point. Just saying the white and black one was Domino apparently wouldn’t have gotten the point across. Daring opening the cage was much more her style. She was quickly thanked and instructed to close the cage. I expected to see the mice loose before I left.
The phone rang. Host engaged in a brief conversation, and then came back into the room. “That was my sister. She’s coming over to see what painting miniatures is all about.” Wow. This was becoming a popular house. I didn’t know painting was a curious spectator sport.
“It’s not usually this busy here,” Mrs. Host assured. It must be me. Or the full moon.
A while later, the sister shows up. She comes in the door, “why is there a little girl running around your back yard?” All I could think was, there…it happened…the mice escaped. I looked at Host to see any indication that we should go help scour his backyard for fuzzy, spotted vermin.