That night at the dinner table, I told my family about Anna and Vladimir.
“Anna and Vladimir Knight,” Cousin Ray said, word by word. “Those two kids are mostly quiet and keep to themselves. Anna is mostly shy; she doesn’t have any friends, and doesn’t open up real easily since she is often bullied. In fact, the poor girl was bullied so much, she had to be home-schooled.”
“Poor, Anna.” Jordan said. “I wish I could be her friend.
I thought about the books Anna had given me.
“Anna gave me some books to read,” I said. “They’re really good.”
Two of the books that were Anna’s were a book of poems, while the other two were two books that I never read before. One was Night train to the Stars by Kenji Miyazawa, and the other was Kiki’s Delivery Service written by Eiko Kadono. I only saw the movie version of Kiki’s Delivery Service but never read the novel version of it. I wanted to know why would Anna wanted me to read the four books she had given me.
I decided to read the books to find out.
After dinner, my family and I watched a movie that Cousin Ray rented from Netflix. The movie was an old black & white horror movie. I didn’t care too much for the movie, so I started reading one of Anna’s book of poems. On the next page was a poem entitled ‘Outsider’. As I read the words, I felt movement at what Anna was saying in her poem.
There was a loud scream in the room. The scream came from me because my dog Potato had licked my foot. Screaming, I leaped up from the couch, tossing the book out of my hand. T.R. was next to me and jumped up, tossing the bowl of popcorn in the air. The popcorn got on everyone. Potato had a feast of the popcorn on the floor.
“Butterfly, look at this,” Daddy groaned.
“It’s okay; I’ll clean up the mess.” Miss Carla announced.
“No, Carla. Let me do it.” Cousin Ray volunteer.
The movie was postponed. Daddy made me stay behind with Cousin Ray to clean up the mess I’ve made. In the middle of sweeping, I gave my cousin a sly smile.
“I can be a bit of a klutz sometimes,” I told him.
“So you say?” he replied.
“Yep, I couldn’t even bowl a strike to save my life.”
Cousin Ray stopped cleaning up and walked over to me. As I swept, he placed a hand on mine. I looked into those blue eyes of his.
“I don’t think of you as a klutz at all,” he told me, “I think of you as a funny teenage girl who was sent from above to make the world smile.”
I looked at my cousin and felt my heart flutter. I knew what my cousin said was the most beautiful ever. As I smiled at Cousin Ray, I felt millions of butterflies slow-dancing in my stomach.
Cousin Ray spotted my book on the floor. He went over and picked it up off the floor. “I believe this is yours, Mademoiselle,” he said formally.
I laughed as I placed the book on the coffee table. Without another word, we went back to cleaning up the den.
Cousin Ray and I didn’t finished cleaning until midnight. I was very exalted when I got to my room. I collapsed on my bed, rolled up the covers and drifted off to sleep. In my dream, I was walking hand-in-hand with my cousin along the sandy shores of the beach.
July fourth was the day that I longed for. It was Indepandce Day and Cousin Ray’s birthday. With the lack of sleep still lingering me, I got up from my bed and grabbed some fresh clothes to wear. I went down the hallway to the bathroom to take a shower. In the shower, I washed myself clean. I washed off the dirt, old oils and other filth off me. I am reminded of old saying that a teacher once told me, ‘A dirty body has a dirty soul’.
I went down to the kitchen and smiled warmly at my family. “Good morning, everybody,” I beamed. I breezed in and kissed everyone. “Wow, my dear! You seemed to be quite happy this morning,” Daddy replied.
As I sat down, I sang a song for Cousin Ray for his birthday.
God bless, you!
On this day!
Happy, happy birthday and many more!
“Happy birthday, Ray!” I said.
Then T.R. and Jordan sang their version.
Happy birthday, it’s your stupid birthday.
Boy, you’re really old.
Cousin Ray chuckled at the song. “Guys, you think I’m that old?” Cousin Ray said to my brother and sister. “I just turned thirty today.” We all laughed at the hidden joke that Ray gave us. Cousin Ray stood up and lifted up his coffee mug. “Well, I’m officially 30 years old today.” He chimed.
“To thirty years,” Cousin Ray said. “May I have many more years of good health.”
“To thirty years!” we said, chinking our glasses together.
“Let’s have a picnic for Cousin Ray.” T.R. said.
“Honey, I’m not so sure that a picnic would be apperate for Cousin Ray,” Daddy said, “I just heard on the weather report that it was going to Rain today.”
“But, Father,” T.R. said formally. (T.R. sometimes called Daddy ‘Father’ when she wanted something from him or if she was upset with him. Most of the time she liked to call Daddy ‘Father’ to sound more mature.) ,”Cousin Ray would love to have a rainy day picnic for his birthday. And besides, he’s only thirty once in his life. Let’s have a picnic for him. Would you like that, huh Cousin Ray.”
T.R. batted her eyelashes at Cousin Ray. Her hypnotic brown eyes entrapped my cousin into doing something that he haven’t done in his life. With her bright, brown eyes and beauty, T.R. could get you to do what you wanted to do. My sister was a young Cleopatra.
Ray took one look at T.R. and made his decision.
“Okay, let’s do it!” he said.
To Be continued/Stay Tuned!